Bikes officially allowed on river path… temporarily

This sign was recently pasted over the metal signs prohibiting bikes between Campbell Avenue and Mountain Avenue on the south side of the Rillito River Path.

The signs say bikes are allowed on the dirt part of the path temporarily. However, this part of the path will be closed once the construction on the north side is complete (around June), then crews will pave the section and it will be open to everyone to use.

The county decided to allow bikes on the dirt section while the north side is closed so cyclists weren’t forced to cross the Campbell Avenue bridge which isn’t friendly to cyclists.

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jkandell
jkandell

Can anyone tell me the condition of the Rillito bike path on the south side between Alvernon and Dodge? Coming west, there is a paved portion east of Alvernon, behind the colorful shops at Paradise Falls Dr (e.g. Integrative Pain Management). There is a bridge going under Alvernon, then .... ?

zz
zz

The bridge is 57 feet wide. The right travel lanes are 13 feet, the left travel lanes are 11 feet. The left turn lane is 9 feet. Can we not narrow the travel lanes to 10 feet each and the 'turn' lane to 8 feet and get a 5 foot bike lane on each side? I know 10 foot travel lanes are frowned upon, but could there not be an exception for 400 feet of bridge. It seems having cars drive past their turn point, then doing a U-turn puts them out more than dealing with a narrow lane for that short distance.

Matt Zoll
Matt Zoll

We can't quite go as narrow as 8 feet for a left turn lane; the narrowest is actually 9.7 feet per engineering guidance. A delivery truck, for instance, is about 8.5+ feet wide when you include the mirrors so it wouldn't be able to use an 8-foot left turn lane. I wrote a policy for the city to permit 10-foot lanes on roadways with speed limits of 35 and below, so they do have the ability to do that on Campbell Ave. However, even with 10-foot travel lanes and a 10-foot center turn lane we still wouldn't have enough room for bike lanes. That's why the U-turn option is being evaluated. After doing observations and counts at the location on the north side, there were only an average of 22 vehicles turning left at the location during the peak weekday travel period from 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. It was actually much fewer vehicles than I anticipated. As the city Traffic Engineering Division evaluates the U-turn option, they'll look at all the issues affecting driver, pedestrian and bicyclist safety. For comparison, there are many locations regionwide on divided roadways where U-turns are necessary in order to access local businesses and residences.

Matt Zoll
Matt Zoll

Incidentally, one thing to be evaluated is how much storage space is necessary for the left turns. I only observed one time where there were 3 vehicles stacked waiting to make the left turn, and they were only delayed a few seconds. There is a little space on the north side of the bridge where it flares out, which provides a short storage area. The extra width there would allow bike lanes and then on the bridge itself the two-way left turn lane could be eliminated (still need to deal with the south side too). If the city decides that would be sufficient, then they wouldn't need to go with the U-turn option.

Matt Zoll
Matt Zoll

I've been working with the City to restripe the bridge and do additional minor modifications to get bike lanes across it. The existing two-way left turn lane across the bridge is obviously not necessary. However, at the north end and south end there are left turns into an office park (north side) and trailhead (south side). Sometimes the northbound drivers back up a short distance onto the bridge. We're working on a concept to have drivers go further north and do a U-turn to go back a short distance and then turn into the office park, and on the south side to construct a new entrance further south so drivers making a left can be located off of the bridge. This would also help reduce turning conflicts with northbound left turns into Trader Joe's. There's not currently funding identified to do the improvements but hopefully we can pull that together soon. If you have any further questions please contact me at 243-BIKE (2453).

Martha Retallick
Martha Retallick

The Golden Gate Bridge has extra-wide sidewalks to accommodate walkers and bicyclists. Perhaps something like this could be done for the Campbell Avenue bridge.