What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

15 June 2016

Bicycles & My Hometown

I have to give lots of kudos to my hometown for being a good place for biking and walking. First of all, it's flat (okay, the city shouldn't really get congrats for that), and since the city was built before cars were invented, neighborhood streets are small, have sidewalks, and people drive at (mostly) reasonable speeds through most of town.

Even the two highways that connect through town aren't terrible for riding, although I much prefer using the sidewalks if I have to ride there. The city being built pre-cars works two ways here: there is no space to install any more infrastructure on the two main arterials, because the buildings are built right at the sidewalk. So, the city can't put in a protected bike lane, but neither can they widen the road to encourage more high-speed traffic.

The crown jewel of the good things here for active transportation: we have a gorgeous rail-trail right through the middle of town, and a couple more multi-use paths near schools and the library.

Bicycle facilities in Greenfield, Indiana, according to
Google maps.

So while I was strolling along one day last week, I wondered, What would I do next? Be warned that these thoughts do not come from a professional city planner or engineer--they're just next steps that I would love for the city to take.

First, obviously, the multi-use path on Broadway should connect to the east-west rail trail at the bottom of the image. And really, it almost does. There's a sidewalk that picks up on the south side of the high school and continues down to the trail that works great. Similarly, by all rights the connective bit between the two north-south multi-use paths along McKenzie Street in front of the library should be dark green as well--it's the same path. So, what's lacking?

  1. That connective bit of sidewalk directly in front of the high school (instead of routing folks into the parking lot); 
  2. An ADA ramp on the bit of sidewalk that leads from the street to the trail at the far south end of the street--and whatever engineer didn't do that to begin with probably needs a Gibbs-slap; 
  3. Signage indicating that this is a bike/ped path, preferably with wayfinding elements like how many minutes' walk it is to the high school, or the library, or the trail.
Next, I would put in a multi-use path the length of 200 N/New Road, to help build up the network and to increase access to employment centers and the junior high school. Right now, there's nothing, which is a gross disservice to the folks who live and work there, and it's something that should have been installed when developers started building in that part of town.

After that, the city should begin designating bike routes (more signage!) and looking after sidewalks on the other north-south streets. Obviously this city was not well planned, since there are so few through streets in town, but on the upside that leaves neighborhood streets very quiet and easy to bike or walk on. This is a huge advantage that should be played upon for active transportation.

And finally, all those goofy little subdivisions that don't connect to each other? Stick in some bike/ped paths connecting them to give people more access to easy walking and biking spaces, but without increasing car traffic in neighborhoods.

That's what my non-engineer, non-city-planning self would do if it were up to me. What would you do in your hometown?


Crystal Collier said...

Sounds to me like you should get in touch with your city planners. =) My home town is expanding by the second. Next year we'll have a movie theater within walking distance, and by fall we'll have our first couple stores a mile away. The hard part has been patience...since we've been in the house almost two years with no shopping nearby.

Bikers... You know those crazy group bikers? The ones who go cross country? We get those all the time around here and they always take the WHOLE road, even though there's an 8 foot wide walking/biking trail on the side of the road. Go figure.

Su Wilcox said...

I'm not planning on being here long enough to talk to my city planners. This is purely a wish list.

Is there a speed limit on your multi-use trail? That's usually the reason those folks ride in the road--because they can go faster than the speed limit on the trail. Or if it's a hassle to get on and off the trail as they enter/exit town.