Road runner: Tucson is adding new bike boulevards to get more of us on 2 wheels

2013-01-28T00:00:00Z 2013-01-28T12:14:14Z Road runner: Tucson is adding new bike boulevards to get more of us on 2 wheelsBecky Pallack Becky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A new network of bicycle boulevards is coming to Tucson this year.

The city of Tucson and the Regional Transportation Authority signed funding agreements this month, and construction should begin this fall.

Bike boulevards could really change the way you get around.

"One statistic always stands out to me, which is 40 percent of all trips in the U.S. are under two miles but up to 90 percent of those are by car," said Ann Chanecka, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator at the city Transportation Department.

"The whole bike boulevard initiative is to try to get people to try either biking or walking for some of those shorter trips."

What is a bike boulevard?

It's a residential street where bicyclists who don't want to ride in bike lanes on major streets next to speeding traffic can ride safely.

Bike boulevards are marked by signs and have signals for safe crossings at busy intersections. Plus, they prioritize bikes by slowing down or diverting cars.

"We've added a lot of bike lanes, and it's great. One thing we've realized, though, is our ridership hasn't really increased," Chanecka said. "Less-confident riders need routes in which they feel safer. So the city's been turning its priorities to trying to provide some of these safer, low-stress routes in hopes to attract more riders.

"In Tucson, we have a lot of busy corridors with a lot of traffic, and so we're trying to look at this as an alternative network," Chanecka said.

Next month she'll be kicking off a bike boulevard master-planning process, and you'll be able to weigh in on how these bikeways can help not only bicyclists but also pedestrians, bus riders and kids.

The master plan will prioritize routes and connect more parks, schools, libraries, major employers and grocery stores.

ROAD Q

S.J. Rinker is puzzled by the lack of signs of progress at the Grant-Oracle intersection project. "Could you please enlighten those of us affected by this project?"

A: Crews found a number of complicated utility surprises when they dug into the streets, said city Transportation Director Daryl Cole. The utility phase of the project has taken longer than expected, but it's nearly done, and construction soon will be back on schedule, he said.

Send your Road Q questions by email to roadrunner@azstarnet.com or to 4850 S. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ 85714. Please include first and last names.

Tucson's designated bike boulevards

• Fourth Avenue/Fontana Avenue between University Boulevard and Prince Road.

• Third Street/University Boulevard between Oracle and Wilmot roads.

Those coming soon

• Liberty/San Fernando Avenue, covering just under five miles between 44th Street and Los Reales Road as an alternative to Sixth Avenue and 12th Avenue.

• Copper/Flower Street, covering about 5 1/2 miles between Oracle and Swan roads as an alternative to Grant Road.

• Treat Avenue, covering about six miles between the Rillito River and Barraza-Aviation Parkway as an alternative to Country Club Road. The Treat bike boulevard "goes within a quarter-mile of 13 schools and five parks, and intersects with 11 bus lines, so Treat is a real good north-south connection through town," says Ann Chanecka, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator at the city Transportation Department.

• Fifth Street, covering just under two miles between Main and Highland avenues as an alternative to Sixth Street.

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