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 [email protected] or call 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews