New bike lanes coming to Highland Avenue

Soon it will be a little more comfortable for cyclists heading north on Highland Avenue into the University of Arizona campus.

The City of Tucson received Regional Transportation Authority money to improve the intersection, which primarily consisted of creating a bus pullout on the north side of Sixth Street just west of Highland Avenue.

According to Tom Thivener, the city’s bike and pedestrian program manager, there was money left over which allowed them to push back existing curbs to add a bike lane on one side of the road.

Thivener said he chose to add the bike lane in the northbound section because of bike count data which showed it had twice as many people riding on the sidewalk after the bike lanes ended a few hundred yards before the intersection.

“On site visits we would see people pulling up on the sidewalk just south of the rec center,” Thivener said.

Diahn Swartz, a traffic engineer for the city said the project had been delayed because of a conflict with the University, who wanted to postpone the construction until after the opening of the new rec center.

Swartz said they are also adding a ramp cutout for students who are riding southbound to the rec center.

She said many students would ride on the eastside cross walk to get to the bike parking, but with the new cutout, cyclists can stay in the southbound travel lane and make a left through the cutout which leads directly to the bike racks.

Neither Thivener or Swartz were sure when the project would be completed.

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3 comments
A UA Student
A UA Student

Two months later, they've finished paving over the road expansion (the Rec Center's sidewalk was needlessly very wide anyway). As someone who lives in and bikes from the south of the U of A, I love this improvement. Beforehand, cars would often dangerously try to pass me if I was in front of them; and if I was behind them, I couldn't get to the "Push this for green light" button for bicycles at the intersection's curb. They still haven't painted any bike lane lines, though. It doesn't matter that much anyway.

James
James

I used to live off of Highland south of campus and my brother still does so I use that route frequently. When bike traffic is high during certain light cycles the bike box is used pretty much as it is intended, which is good to see. One major flaw I think in that particular bike box is that the nearby dorm construction, as well as Tucson streets amazing ability to fall to pieces in short amounts of time (presumably from lack of water and then flooding), has caused the bike box at times to be almost non visible (i.e. the green looks more black than green). This is when I see careless motorists pull up in the green rather than staying back. I think because it is such a narrow slow street in the first place that it generally works. The sharrow south of the intersection (southbound) might be even more valuable than the bike box itself though. Personally, I think both Highland and Sixth Street should become as slow to traffic and as ped/bike friendly as possible. With such high pedestrian volume, the streets should be set up to be as safe as possible for people.

James
James

I was hoping this is what they were doing. But, people are still going to regularly ride wrong way in the crosswalk and up the sidewalk. I think that kind of thing just comes with a mass of inexperienced student riders. The question now is, are they going to put in a bike box in front of traffic like the other side of the street, or am I going to have to be careful not to get right hooked even when I was already stopped at the light?

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