Nearly 100 residents, cyclists and city officials met Thursday night for an open house to discuss the proposed bike boulevards along the Grant Road corridor.
The bike boulevard routes would follow Copper and Flower Streets which are north of Grant Road and Seneca Road which is south of Grant Road. (Learn more about the project and download the plans)
City of Tucson bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, Tom Thivener, gave a 20-minute presentation about bike boulevards followed by a question and answer session.
Thivener said he was thrilled with the crowd.
“It was a fabulous turnout,” Thivener said. “People had really good questions. We had a lot of neighbors here who shared with us their concerns with the current conditions on the corridor.”
One of those neighbors asked what happens to property values when bike boulevards go in. Thivener responded that it hadn’t been studied, but anecdotally, officials in Portland say the houses along bike boulevards have risen in value.
Local resident Sue Myers quickly responded to that, saying the rise in values meant property taxes would also go up.
Her husband Bill Myers said after the meeting that they were on social security and couldn’t afford to pay more taxes.
I don’t care what they say, if it is considered an improvement, our taxes are going to go up,” Sue Myers said. “We can’t afford it. We are on social security.”
Several residents asked about maintenance costs and expressed concern that they would have to foot the bill of the upkeep.
Thivener said the city was already maintaining existing roads, which elicited chuckles from the audience.
Some homeowners were also concerned about removing stop signs and replacing them with yield signs because they feared it would encourage speeding through their neighborhoods.
“For us, that is the fear,” Andrew Jones, a representative of the Palo Verde neighborhood said after the presentation. “We just had thousands of dollars worth of signs donated and money put in for that and now they are going to replace them all.”
Jones said if they could figure out a way to slow the traffic from Catalina High School and Pima Medical Institute on Seneca, they would be more than happy to have the street turned into a bike boulevard.
Thivener, who is working with an outside design firm, set up a 10-foot long photograph of each of the two bike boulevards in the meeting room. The photos included each of the new road treatments along the route. Thivener asked the people at the meeting to write on the photos about potential concerns and issues.
The Myers were the most outspoken critics of the boulevards.
They said they already had about 30 cyclists using the street outside their home and they said often they don’t stop at the stop signs and ride on the wrong side of the street.
Bill Myers also said more bicyclists would make it hard to get out of their driveway and require them to go too slow.
“If they are doing five or six miles an hour you got to go along in first gear in your car behind them,” Bill Myers said. “That is bull. That is absolute bull. If they are going to be riding here they need to be off to the right so you can pass them. With this (the bike boulevard), they take up the whole damn road. There is no sense in that.”
Myers said the road was wide enough to pass cyclists except for one block where the road was narrow.
Sue Myers said she doesn’t like the plan.
“I’m a Taurus and Taurus people don’t like change,” Myers said. “We don’t. We have a real nice neighborhood just the way it is. They should put it somewhere else.”
Dyer Lytle lives near the proposed routes and said he thought the bike boulevards sound like a great idea.
“Generally I support anything that increases bicycle use in Tucson or anywhere,” Lytle said.
Thivener said the city would look at the comments submitted by the open house attendees and encouraged people to also comment on the plans online. The routes do not have funding, but he said having a plan in place and support from the community would make it easier to secure grants for the projects.
“There seems to to be vast support for this type of facility in town and definitely along these two corridors,” Thivener said. “I really can’t wait until we get these two put in.”