[tabi] from today's Democrat: a good article on the new lanes

  • From: "Allison and Chip Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 6 Oct 2010 19:50:44 -0400

Whoever was in charge of publicizing this project never, in anything I saw
about it, mentioned the added pedestrian safety benefits; the opinion piece
in the Democrat today does a great job of reminding everyone of the needs of

It's progress, on two wheels
Tennessee Street changes can make travel better for all

 It's the old saying: Everyone wants progress, but nobody wants change. So
ought to be applauding - not snorting - at the city's plan to create
bus/bike only
lanes on Tennessee Street from Ocala Road to Monroe Street. Reducing six
lanes to
four and using the other two for bus/bike-only lanes is a change. But it
should make
Tennessee Street a safer, less-congested road that encourages more bus and
bike ridership.
That would be progress.
The state owns and maintains Tennessee Street, which is also U.S. Highway
90. But
city and Florida State officials have sought changes since 1995, when a
college student
was struck by a car and killed as he tried to cross Tennessee Street. If it
already evident, that incident underlined the dangers of a busy highway
a major college campus.
The city proposed the bus/bike lane concept as a pilot project when the
state Department
of Transportation announced plans to resurface Tennessee Street in 2014. The
"construction" involved is painting the outside lanes to show they're
intended only
for buses and bikes. Now was the time to test the bus/bike lanes to see if
they should
be incorporated into the resurfacing.
The city will hold public meetings for six months, then submit the project
to the
DOT for approval. If approved, the lanes would be created in summer 2011.
That would
provide two full school years to gauge their success.
"I think we can make a difference - and part of that is I don't see an
said Gabe Menendez, the city's public works director. "Nobody
 in their right mind thinks Tennessee Street is not going to get more
All this is a way to reallocate space so we can get the most people moved
Seventy percent of FSU students live within a mile of campus. City officials
a reserved lane would allow buses to move along Tennessee Street every 10
and encourage more students to ride buses to campus rather than drive cars.
hope it also will encourage more students to ride bikes to campus and
further reduce
automobile congestion.
But it's as much about safety as moving people. The sidewalk in many places
on Tennessee
Street is only four feet wide. Sidewalk pedestrians have been sideswiped by
mirrors. In 1996, a pedestrian was killed when a car jumped a curb at
Tennessee and
"This will create a buffer between moving traffic and the sidewalk," said
Tampa bicycle
and pedestrian consultant Bruce Landis. "That will benefit the pedestrians'
and safety."
The plan calls for special striping and emblems that clearly identify the
lanes - and alert motorists not to drive in them. Cars, though, will be
to make right turns from the bus/bike lanes.
Many other cities in the U.S. and Europe have instituted such bus/ bike
lanes, as
well as other measures aimed at making roads more welcoming to all modes of
Tampa recently narrowed a section of busy Nebraska Avenue (U.S. 41) from
four lanes
to three lanes with wider bike lanes. Total vehicle collisions dropped from
174 per
year to 45 per year, and vehicle collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists
practically eliminated.
"Tallahassee's plan is really a
 hybrid," Landis said. "It's bringing in good aspects that have worked
around the
Critics sneer there will be bus-bike collisions in the new lanes. Bikers and
say the 10-minute spacing between buses plus frequent stops by buses leaves
of time and room for bikers to safely travel.
"I have ridden these kind of bike lanes in Germany and France and didn't
find them
hard to use," said Hans van Tol, chair of the local Committee for a Bikeable
"There's normally not too much conflict, and the moving speed (of buses and
is about equal."
Critics are certain losing two car lanes will bring traffic to a standstill.
Menendez said a DOT study shows there will be no significant change in the
flow of Tennessee Street. And Tennessee Street already narrows from six
lanes to
four lanes at the east (Monroe) and west (Ocala) without bottlenecks.
"The (bus/bike lanes) are a benefit - to motorists," said Chris Lacher,
of the Capital City Cyclists.
"The cyclists and buses are not in the motorists' lanes."
Critics say the pilot project represents "social engineering," as if there
is something
nefarious about encouraging more people to ride bikes and buses. But
everyone pays
taxes, and taxes pay for roads. The roads should be built to benefit
"It is social engineering," van Tol said. "On the other hand, you can say a
lot of
road building is for cars. And building for cars is social engineering."
So what the heck: Let's give progress a chance.
_ Contact Senior Writer Gerald Ensley
 at (850) 599-2310 or

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  • » [tabi] from today's Democrat: a good article on the new lanes - Allison and Chip Orange