Thursday, July 24, 2014

New cycletrack streamlines intersection


William Evans and Travis Cosgrave ride along the updated cycle track at Sycamore Lane and Villanova Drive. The track includes bollards to separate cyclists from motorists. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | July 11, 2014 |

One of the city’s overarching bicycling goals is to close gaps in various city bikeways, making the act of cycling around town safer and easier.

The intersection of Sycamore Lane and Villanova Drive was — until this week — the end point for a bikeway that crossed over Highway 113 and traversed through Sycamore Park, but ended at Sycamore Lane.

Bicyclists traveling east-west or west-east were left to their own devices to figure out how to get to and from the bikeway in order to cross over Highway 113 or go to Villanova Lane for points east. The larger bikeway ran from West Davis to East Davis and connected some schools and parks.

The disconnect at Sycamore Lane and Villanova Drive so vexed city transportation planners they were able to convince the city council to appropriate $18,000 in special transportation funds largely derived from gas taxes to fix the problem by installing what’s called a cycletrack. Actions like that are called for in the city’s Beyond Platinum Bicycle Action Plan, a city bicycle planning blueprint. The project also passed through the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee on May 5.

The Sycamore Lane cycletrack allows bicyclists to go north or south protected by a line of small bollards that clearly separate vehicles from bicyclists. There is also a clear right turn directional path for cyclists to get to Villanova Drive.

“Now, cyclists heading to Villanova from the bike path may legally travel north up Sycamore and then turn right to head east on Villanova,” Davis Active Transportation Planner, Dave “DK” Kemp, wrote in an email. “This brings all the turning movements for vehicles and bicycles to an all-way stop controlled intersection. Prior to this installation, bicyclists would awkwardly travel across two lanes of traffic just south of the intersection and would encounter close calls (collisions) with vehicles.”

The city used green markings to spotlight zones where bicycles and vehicles share space, called “conflict zones”, and put in directional chevrons to offer turning guides for cyclists.

“This increases overall safety by creating a heightened awareness for all road users and increased visibility for bicyclists,” Kemp wrote.

This improvement is like a technique that was installed on J Street at Drexel Drive in East Davis. Once again, the city mended an uncomfortable gap in the bikeway network.

More than complaints, the city knew exactly how big the problem was at Sycamore Lane by gathering objective information. In May, the city installed automated bicycle and pedestrian counting hardware in Sycamore Park.

“From May 2013 to May 2014, this segment of bike path experienced 645,000 bicycle and pedestrian trips (figure includes both directions or one-way trips),” Kemp wrote. “Approximately 123,000 of those trips were made by pedestrians, 522,000 trips were made by bike. During one week in May 2014 (May 19-23). This route experienced 12,700 trips. (In total) 1,900 pedestrian trips and 10,800 by bike.”

City staff recently received grant funding to install more counters at other strategic locations around the city to measure bicycle and pedestrian trips.

In an interview, Kemp said the exact design of the cycletrack took months from its start in the fall of 2013 until its installation this week. Installation took one day of work.

“It’s a primary goal of the Beyond Platinum plan to reduce crashes in the city,” Kemp said.

— Reach Dave Ryan at or call 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews


Discussion | 12 comments

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  • RobiJuly 11, 2014 - 8:20 am

    The new installation is GREAT! My daughter and. Ride to and from CCE from Stonegate every school day and this bottleneck always seemed pretty haphazard. I've ridden East out of Sycamore Park and gone both north and south on Sycamore since the new paint. The northbound lane and bike stop at Villanova are a pleasant surprise. Most noteworthy however are the pickets/bollards dividing the car lame from the bike lanes. I drove south on Sycamore last night and was impressed by what an attention getter they are. Watch for our hot merge at 8:20 as soon as school's in.

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  • jwJuly 11, 2014 - 9:49 am

    I believe ryan means to say in the paragraph about heading north legally on sycamore that you turn right on villanova and head west.. Villanova ends at sycamore so not possible to head "west" but rather east.

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 11, 2014 - 1:29 pm

    JW, your east vs. west point, which is right, has since been corrected.

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  • B. CarfreeJuly 11, 2014 - 12:13 pm

    This pathetic implementation is exactly why Munich, and much of Germany, has been removing these two-way cycletracks over the past few years. Since they began removing them, they have seen their cycling modal share jump from a pathetically low 5% to 20%. Yes, that's higher than Davis currently has. Of course they don't put in illegal part-time bike lanes like Davis did on B St either. The far simpler, safer and more effective options available were to either: 1. Regrade the location where the bike path meets Sycamore and put in a traffic circle. It would need to be narrow enough to slow the motorists, but since there's a stop sign forty feet away, that shouldn't be much of an issue. 2. Close the intersection at Villanova and Sycamore to motorists heading east/west. That would allow the stop signs to be placed at the bike path, leaving one standard three-way stop intersection. This segregationista implementation does nothing for cyclist safety while adding risk and time to the trip for cyclists. I guess that is what one should expect when the roads department it populated by motorists who cannot conceive of inconveniencing the car addicts. No wonder our cycling modal share is less than a third of what it was when we were the Bike Capital of the World, an unofficial title we lost over a quarter century ago.

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  • AnonJuly 11, 2014 - 12:29 pm

    Davis is attempting to make roads "multimodal", so they can be shared by all, which includes cars, bikes and pedestrians. I love what they have done at the corner of 1st and B. It is much clearer where bikes and cars are supposed to go, and is much safer. The same sort of green markings as shown above were used. We all have to learn to share the road, whatever mode is chosen to use.

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  • WDEJuly 11, 2014 - 2:24 pm

    Wow, only took a year of study and $18,000 to figure out they should paint lines allowing kids to do exactly what they've been doing for 30+ years (ride north on the west side of Sycamore for a few dozen feet before crossing). Strange that their analysis was dependent on the amount of bicycle and pedestrian traffic rather than the number of incidents, but I guess when no incidents came to light they had to come up with some excuse for implementation.

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  • Steve GJuly 12, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    WD - I regularly run down Sycamore to the park path, and would not say most of the bikers were turning left from the bike path and going (illegally) north on Sycamore to get to Villlanova or Brown, i.e., taking the exact route of this new bike track. Many were traveling on the sidewalk, which creates the risk of collisions with pedestrians. A lot of seniors use the sidewalk from Brown to the park, including several with walkers and motorized mobility chairs, or who use canes. If the bikers now stay on the road, this will be a great improvement for peds, too.

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 12, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    I think Steve G. is right on this one. Additionally, other kids going to Villanova Drive from Sycamore Park would cut across Sycamore Lane, right where the bike path meets the sidewalk. The problem with that approach is that there is a lot of automobile traffic running north and south when school is about to start and when it lets out in the afternoon. So if kids cut across Sycamore, they run the risk of getting hit by a moving car which never saw them coming. This new set-up gives them a much better, safer and legal option, and it does not inconvenience others.

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  • John GallagherJuly 11, 2014 - 4:54 pm

    Seems like it would have been a WHOLE LOT more cost effective and safer to direct Villanova bike traffic through the Brown Drive cutout 300 feet west; and then to the stop sign controlled intersection at Sycamore/Villanova. This way the bikes have the distinct impression that they are under no obligation to stop prior to crossing Sycamore - but I guess that's the Davis way also

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  • Chris DJuly 12, 2014 - 10:03 am

    John - Are you referring to the Sycamore/Brown intersection that is North of the Sycamore/Villanova intersection? The park, and a connector from the park path to Brown, are west. I live on Brown and do not think it would be any safer to move the bike path terminus up there. Since Sycamore, Brown and Villanova do not intersect in a perfectly straight manner, crossing from Brown to Villanova, or the reverse, is always tricky. People are used to seeing bikers, especially kids, crossing in the crosswalk where the bike path ends, so it seems a safer spot. It would be a good idea to ask the City to put a stop sign coming off the bike path to cross Sycamore. Also, I think they could quickly recoup the $18k cost of this project by posting a police officer to ticket the countless bikers who roll right through the stop signs on Sycamore, and I will suggest that.

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  • John GallagherJuly 12, 2014 - 12:24 pm

    "Also, I think they could quickly recoup the $18k cost of this project by posting a police officer to ticket the countless bikers who roll right through the stop signs on Sycamore, and I will suggest that." Great suggestion - - they could likely recoup within a month!!

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 12, 2014 - 2:42 pm

    John, I think your Brown Drive suggestion is interesting. However, I don't think it would work, unless the paved path on the north side of Sycamore Park were removed (and blocked with trees or some other barrier) from Sycamore Lane west to where there is a northbound entrance onto Brown Drive. I think those going on to Villanova would instead just keep going east there. And if you did remove that portion of the pathway, you would then create an inconvenience for pedestrians going east or west, who would have to use the entrance/exit to Sycamore Park which further south. ................ Ideally, the southern wing of Brown Drive and Villanova would have been constructed originally to line up, and the northeast exit from Sycamore Park would have been diagonal to that intersection. But that was not done originally, and it cannot be remade that way now. So I think this is a good and realistic arrangement.

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