[ONGOING still March 2017: There is a City of Tempe McClintock Project Page which is updated has has a long history section]
McClintock Drive resurfacing project, city of Tempe, AZ completed July 2015 — added left buffered Bike Lanes (LBBL) between Guadalupe and Broadway Roads, (the southbound side actually begins 1/2 mile north of Broadway at Apache) which incidentally crosses a major freeway interchange, US60. This is another in a series of “innovative” bicycle infrastructure projects recently completed in the City of Tempe.
The overriding goal of such projects is to make people who won’t now ride feel safer, then — the theory goes — the increased ridership will eventually increase actual safety via the Safety in Numbers hypothesis. I have a lot of intellectual troubles with this; e.g. there’s never been a causal relationship established with SiN, and bike-MV overtaking type collisions are known to be rare in urban environments; the flip side being that angle-type collisions where any turning or roads cross are common (see Crash History, below)… a type of crash that, if anything, a buffered bike lane makes more likely.
In any event, all such projects meant to increase participation carries creates additional, um, additional challenges for lawful cyclists because of the conflicts manufactured at driveways and intersections.
Just to point out, there is no vertical element (at least not yet! But see below) between the right general-purpose travel lane and the newly created bike lane, so it does not fit the definition per FHWA guidance as a separated bike lane whose definition is:
A separated bike lane is an exclusive facility for bicyclists that is located within or directly adjacent to the roadway and that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic with a vertical element. Separated bike lanes are differentiated from standard and buffered bike lanes by the vertical element. They are differentiated from shared use paths (and sidepaths) by their more proximate relationship to the adjacent roadway and the fact that they are bike-only facilities. Separated bike lanes are also sometimes called “cycle tracks” or “protected bike lanes.”
The AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, 4th Edition, offers these cautions on marked bike lane “buffers”:
Striped buffers may be used to provide increased separation between a bike lane and another adjacent lane that may present conflicts, such as a parking lane with high turnover or a higher speed travel lane. The benefits of additional lateral separation should be weighed against the disadvantages; a buffer between the bike lane and the adjacent lanes places bicyclists further from the normal sight lines of motorists, who are primarily looking for vehicles in the lanes intended for motor-vehicle travel, and buffers between the bike lane and an adjacent travel lane reduce the natural “sweeping” effect of passing motor vehicles, potentially requiring more frequent maintenance (p. 4-18).
Other random thoughts.
Here is a city PR release and a fact sheet that has quite a bit of detail on it like traffic volumes along all segments of Mcclintock comparing 2004 to 2014; There is a project page at the City’s website. “McClintock Drive between Broadway and Guadalupe roads has seen traffic volumes, on average, decrease by a total of 22 percent since 2004 (see Table A, of the fact sheet). This decrease is largely attributed to the completion of the urban freeway network and an increase in the number of commuters choosing alternative modes of travel”. And “The total project cost was $1,704,547” but no further details there, one wonders if this was TQ or CMAQ?
Like other arterial roads in Tempe, this road is very wide with a high speed limit (45mph throughout, I think)
The old configuration was sometimes 3 thru lanes in each direction, and other times 3X2; and formerly no BLs in this area. The volume on this arterial (like others in Tempe) has dropped markedly since the freeways have been completed and widened (SR101, and US60).
The road is sometimes exceedingly wide — at the intersection with Baseline Rd, there is now: two thru lanes in each direction, a double left turn only lane, a BL and buffer space in each direction, and a RTO lane. It’s about 100′ wide curb-to-curb. Phew.
From what I’ve gathered, the street engineers in Tempe are under some sort of speed illusion — claiming high speeds “helps traffic flow”; which is odd since above some speed (40mph?) road capacity decreases (because drivers will allow disproportinately more distance between vehicles as speed increases), and anyway, capacity is constrained by signalized intersections. The 35mph “at all times” speed limit adjacent to all schools along arterials was instituted years ago, and as things turn out, traffic has not gridlocked. [see for example Rural Road, a major N/S commuting corridor] between Ray and Warner Roads; Corona High School]
Just north of the project area (between Broadway and Apache) there is a particularly nasty bit of arterial where McClintock goes underneath RR tracks. CORRECTION: The southbound lane begins at Apache, not Broadway; but the northbound lane does end at Broadway. Interesting note: City of Tempe bans (banned?) sidewalk riding through the underpass; here is a shot of northbound looking north (sign: “Bicyclists on Sidewalk MUST dismount and Walk ENDS”) and northbound looking south, where there are standard bikes/wrong way. Ride with traffic signs.
This is in the area of Baseline Road. McClintock Drive is otherwise very straight but has a significant bend in it. I would have to double-check but I believe they maintain the high speed limit of 45mph used elsewhere on Tempe arterials (wrong: because in one of the pics shows 40mph).
Bicyclist Crash History
There were 66 reported Bike-MV crashes from 2009-2015. A couple occurred after the re-stripe, but neither was relevant to the BL
A few facts from the crash data there:
- The single fatality, a bicyclist crossing McClintock at Alameda was killed by a driver who ran the red light.
- The single incapacitating injury was to a wrong-way sidewalk cyclist struck in a crosswalk.
- At least 48 (of the 66) involved a cyclist who was riding of the sidewalk (i.e. sidewalk, driveway, crosswalk. It’s probably higher, as not all are coded completely).
- A bicyclist was found most at fault a whopping 80% of the time (53 of 66); usually due to wrong-way sidewalk riding.
- 85% were in daylight (56/66).
- none involved a cyclist riding in the road being hit from behind or sideswiped (as expected, perhaps, as presumably proportionately few cyclists ride in the road here). There is one sideswipe in the dataset, but it occurred on Guadalupe Rd.
The main claim for BL safety improvement would be to hopefully shift cyclists from the problematic position of sidewalk to the more-visible position of roadway. Whether this happens remains to be seen. Another claim for improvement is simply to be safety in numbers — a proven, but non-causal, effect.
See this comment, below, for details on how this dataset was extracted (it uses a rectangular lat/long), between just SW of Guadalupe and McClintock, and just NE of Broadway and McClintock. See this other comment for the quantity of all crashes: 66 / 28 / 1393 (bike-MV / ped-MV / MV). As is usual, the vast majority of crashes are MV-MV (or single MV only).
Wither South Tempe?
McClintock Drive has had BLs forever south of Guadalupe Rd to the city boundary (with Chandler AZ, which for some odd reason doesn’t have BLs on any of their N/S arterials?). They have been there for so long, must be decades since the asphalt has been resurfaced and is in dire need of a full resurfacing.
There is also an ~500′ stretch of “fake bike lanes” on McClintock at Elliot put there to allow McClintock to unneccesarily have 3 through lanes in each direction — this should be fixed immediately. The volumes in no way support any need (if there ever was) for the extra lanes. Referring to the fact sheet, above, the segments south of Guadalupe have seen a dramatic decline in 10 yr traffic volume, averaging 33% reduction in the Ray to Guadalupe segments — and are much lower than the more northerly segments.
And the horrendous situation at Warner and Kyrene, a couple of miles away in South Tempe, persists to this day.
Update: Tempe to add “candlesticks” to McClintock Drive as buffer between bikes and vehicles
Per City of Tempe announcement 10/12/2015. This would make these lane, then, “separated” per the FHWA Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide‘s definitions (see above). Here is Tempe’s announcement, note it covers 2 miles (the two busiest) of the ~ 4 to 4.5 miles of project:
As part of Tempe’s commitment to providing travel options for all modes of transportation, the city will build on its recent reconfiguration of McClintock Drive by adding “candlesticks” between newly added bike lanes and vehicle travel lanes. The city plans to install candlesticks, vertical barriers, along McClintock Drive between Southern Avenue and Baseline Road to create more of a separation between bikes and vehicles.
Tempe is adding the candlesticks as a pilot program to address concerns that drivers are using the new bicycle lanes for vehicle travel…. Following installation of the candlesticks, the city will observe driver and bicyclist behavior and work with the bicycling community to determine their effectiveness.
The “candlesticks”/posts were added in early December, 2015, see pic above. Lots of comments in response to Kolby Granville’s Facebook page picture. I have to assume, but don’t know, that City of Tempe is going to do traffic counts, and queue length, etc; but no idea when that data would come out. Again, may of the stories sound rather fantastic; “Now it takes me 1/2 hour to drive on McClintock” or whatever.
Before/After Traffic Studies
Are buried in a very long Trans Committee agenda packet from March 8, 2016; begins on p. 57 of the packet, and is/was agenda item 4. Here’s a better .pdf with just the Traffic study materials but also includes citizen feedback (in case this pdf disappears, i saved it as mcClintockBikeLaneTrafficStudy.PDF)[To look up Transportation Committee packets, go here, and then by date, e.g. the 3/8/2016 packet is listed there. There will be a 10/11/2016 that’s not linked yet that has updated McClintock info. There is a city council work session and meeting scheduled 11/3/2016 that will re-visit the situation. There is a note below in Nov 2016 Updates about how to get the correct links to Tempe City documents]
McClintock Dr Before/After Travel Time Comparisons, University Dr to Baseline Rd (p. 77) showed an increase in MV average travel time during peak periods of between 0:14 (that’s zero minutes and 14 seconds (SB, AM peak) to the worst increase of 3:21 (SB, PM peak). So, overall, no it doesn’t look like this is causing anyone to spend an “extra hour every day” in their cars, or that there are “mile and a half backups” caused by the reconfiguration. There is also data comparing Rural to McClintock from Guadalupe to University (4 miles), that was gathered this February (i.e. not before/after). It shows Rural is, as would be expected, to be comparable to McClintock, about 10 to 13 minutes at peak times average depending on direction.
Complaints tend to be hyperbolic, here are some samples (my emphasis):
Resident states that the added bike lane has added 30 minutes to their morning commute. They also stated that they have never seen a bicyclist on Mcclintock…
…I have seen the traffic backed up all the way to Ray from the freeway [yikes; that’s 4.5 miles, and 3 of the 4.5 miles were two lanes before the project, and remain 2 lanes]
in the morning you can’t take a left off of Carson because traffic is so backed up… Baseline to the 60 is bumper to bumper in the morning
decreased the lanes of traffic on McClintock from 3 down to 2 thus creating massive traffic back‐ups during morning and afternoon rush hour.
added 30 minutes? Never seen a bicyclist? 4.5 mile backups? Also, regarding complaints of trouble turning onto the area, this comments from before the project “Trying to exit from Carson Drive to head north on McClintock Drive in the morning is difficult due to the northbound McClintock Drive traffic stacking up in all lanes”, or “At the Fry’s at McClintock and Baseline it is nearly impossible to make a right turn out of Fry’s between 3 and 6 let alone a left hand turn”; “it is almost impossible to try to get out on McClintock from either Minton or Carson at the present time…” suggests perhaps there’s a different need/solution (additional signals?). There are a handful of other McClintock photos in the public album; Near fire station AM Peak showing a virtually empty road, and near Carson AM Peak also showing virtually empty road.
ROAD TAX — There’s a whole strain of these misguided souls who cling to the believe that they, as drivers, are paying for roads:
My gas tax pays for rds. Will there be a bike tax?…
…Until bicyclists start paying a tax for bike lanes…
When I register my vehicle I pay a tax. Do bikers pay for the use of the road?
And then, there is the stupid… they say you can’t fix stupid, and they’re probably right. The stupid — it burns! :
It IS a well know fact that more accidents occur between cars and bicycles in bike paths along busy streets, instead of having those cyclists on the WIDE sidewalks, separated from car traffic!
A few rare admissions in some of the negative comments; Tempe is a cut-through (the first commenter also mentions that it takes him 20-25 minutes to drive the 4 miles to work, and he can’t bicycle because it would take longer):
…Along with Tempe residents affecting this flow, commuters must travel through Tempe to get to their work if they want an alternate route to the freeways here, which never move…
…McClintock is also a flow through road from the 202 heading south, because the 101 freeway jams all the time at rush hour
Here is one somewhat tangentially related nugget of information:
The city of Chandler informed Tempe staff that in response to numerous complaints about bike lanes in Tempe terminating at the Chandler border, the city of Chandler will be narrowing medians on McClintock Drive and on Kyrene Road in order to accommodate bike lanes from the Tempe border south to the Loop 202.
Nov 2016 Updates
There is a Tempe City Council work session & regular meeting scheduled for early November 3, 2016 where the removal of the present striping will be discussed — presumably to revert it back to the old plan that existing before the resurfacing. The easiest way to find the detailed (and excellent) city-staff prepared information which includes descriptions, traffic flows, volumes and speed, and a limited amount of safety data — Click on the Tempe City Clerks link for Council Meetings and agenda. And from there locate the agenda for the date of interest — in the agenda, find the item of interest which will be a link, e.g. McClintock Drive Street Configuration Impacts, and upon clicking a list of associated documents will appear in the right-pane. For reference, the prior meeting where this was discussed was 3/17. — THE TRICK WITH THESE LINKS it to right click / copy link, and not follow the link from the city’s website because one the link is followed, it redirects to a cached copy of the document in the “SIRE” system, and those links go dead quickly —
The summary city-staff prepared packet for the 11/3 work session has the “dirt”: the worst-case commute (e.g. a Chandler, or south Tempe resident who works in Tempe, and chooses to use McClintock Drive to commute instead of the 101) which is and was Southbound PM added about 1.5 minutes per mile, from 2:29 to 4:01. The 2nd worst case is Northbound AM, was slightly longer. The “reverse” commute (i.e. from Tempe towards Chandler) was presumably unchanged, or nearly so. So the worst case motorist commuter who doesn’t want to use the freeway is seeing an average of, say, 6 minutes round trip added to their commute.
By the way, there’s no explanation of what Optimal means; but 1:32 converted is 39.1mph. So optimal must mean “speeding” to city staff, since the posted speed limit is between 35 and 45mph, and that would allow NO time to be stopped at signals, which is of course unrealistic.
By the way, Valley Metro buses average 15mph (4 minutes per mile) including stops and including stopping in any and all traffic conditions. Which is incidentally what most bicyclists manage.
Also in one of the many attachments is the details of a survey (it was attachment 8 and 9 of the 11/3 work study session) commissioned by the city conducted by Behavior Research Center to get citizen input on congestion. Interestingly/curiously, the Rural intersections were quoted as the worst, along with “have you been delayed by a bus”.
The ignorance (or duplicity) revolving around the idea that it’s safer for bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk is disheartening; virtually all of those who spoke in “against” the bike lanes brought this up. One gentleman even claimed (in paraphrase) “the entire length of McClintock… has wide/8′ sidewalks … and a dashed line should/could be painted dividing the sidewalk between pedestrian and bicyclist use” [the wide/8′ business is not true, by the way].
There was a reasonably balanced 11/17/2016 AZ Republic article about the meeting published a couple of weeks after, here’s a few snippets:
“We knew going into this there was going to be some increase in congestion. It would be naive for us as engineers not to believe that,” said Julian Dresang, city traffic engineer. “But we believed it wouldn’t be ridiculously large, and we’re seeing that, for the most part.”…
Tempe resident Shannon Jenkins said she bikes about 140 miles a week in the city delivering sandwiches.
“I will never bike on a sidewalk, it’s not safe. You can’t get in a left lane to turn. Cars pull up right in front of you,” she said. “I’m a 120-pound girl and I’ve been cursed, sworn and spit at … and I’m supposedly the danger?”
March 2017 Updates
I attended the first hour of a public meeting held 3/25 ; one of two to present material prepared by city staff (along with a consultant they hired, Dibble Enginering). The same material was presented at both. Eventually (april) this will make its way to city council. The material is all linked at the city’s McClintock Drive project page.
The direction given to city staff was broadly to
- Restore travel lanes
- Retain bike lanes (well, as much as possible?)
Tellingly, safety wasn’t a priority. I’m sure if you asked the councilpeople individually, they would insist that of course safety comes first. It doesn’t. “Improving flow” comes first. All else is secondary. Only reducing peak motorist speed is likely to improve traffic safety.
In any event, along most segments of the 3.5mile project area, adding lanes means widening; which means very costly. Staff prepared multiple options, often 3, for 5 segments and usually north and southbound could vary. That mean hundreds possible of combinations! Costs estimates range anywhere from $0 (leave as-is) to $5M. It’s not just a money thing, the most invasive would, in addition to the usual construction headaches, leave the street an uglier place, with the loss of mature trees and landscaping space.
Even spending the $5M couldn’t entirely meet the goals at the two bridges because it’s assumed they cannot be changed, the most constrained is the RR underpass between Apache and Broadway, the the other is the bridge over US60.
Staff (Shelly S and Julian Dresange) did a good job, by the way, of explaining in a matter-of-fact way that bicyclists have a right to ride in the road; this came up in the context of possibly removing the existing buffered BL (southbound) under the RR bridge and adding a sharrowed third lane.
Apropos of nothing in particular, the interchange area with US60 is part of the state highway system and as such belongs to ADOT, so there must have been an “Intergovernmental Agreement”, a document which “define(s) funding and maintenance responsibilities with local governments for bicycle facilities within State highway right-of-way”, per ADOT’s MGT02-01 Bicycle Policy.
MapMyRide / Strava
I don’t really understand what I’m doing with Mapmyride… heretofore I’ve only ever used it to log/record my rides. The app refers to this as a “workouts” which of course follows a “routes”. Any user can also create a “course”; when any user subsequently traverses the course with the app active, statistics are kept. I created two courses to cover the extent of the buffered bike lane. This is in no way a substitute for a bike count, but maybe this would be helpful to visualize who’s using it?
So the way these things work, see this helpful explanation, is anybody using the app who happens to traverse the course shows up; they don’t have to know about it, e.g. I’ve been unknowingly traversing the Warner: I-10 to McClintock course so often that I am a “guru” of the course!
On Strava, the same idea is called a “segment”:
There are also Strava heatmaps with aggregated data from all their users; at the moment, these two links will zoom in directly to show the area involved. Orient by looking for US60 (going east and west) and SR101 (going north and south, 1 mile to the right of McClintock):