During a recent walking tour and public presentation, Charlottesville officials gained community feedback for plans to widen sidewalks, add bike lanes and increase safety as intersection improvements move forward for Monticello Avenue. It is a designated Entrance Corridor to the city, part of U.S. Bicycle Route 76 and a route for students attending Clark Elementary School.
“Since 2003, adding bike lanes to Monticello Avenue has been on the plan,” said Amanda Poncy, the city’s bike and pedestrian coordinator. “We wanted to take the opportunity to talk about some key intersections, particularly related to school arrival and dismissal.”
During the meeting, two design alternatives for Monticello Avenue were presented to the public by the Toole Design Group.
“The first [alternative] is the ultimate biking scenario that sacrifices parking on one side of the street,” said Patrick Baxter, a designer with Toole Design Group. “Alternative two does its best to maintain parking along the entire corridor as it is today, fitting in bike lanes with the existing travel lanes.”
One solution to maintaining on-street parking without compromising the safety of cyclists is a climbing lane.
“Climbing lanes are [bike lanes] only in the uphill direction, because they’ll be going the slowest,” Baxter said. “The downhill bikers share a lane with traffic, but they’re moving faster and so it is more comfortable.”
Toole Design Group is a design firm that specializes in multi-modal transportation. The firm is being paid for various projects in the city, including a $50,000 streetscape of Elliott Avenue near Oakwood Cemetery, $50,000 sidewalk improvements for Cherry Avenue and a plan to improve a crossing of Dairy Road over U.S. 250 Bypass at $50,000.
The design options for Monticello Avenue also include additional funding to redesign intersections that make student usage safer and more comfortable as they walk Clark Elementary.
“We received Safe Routes to School funding for the intersections of Monticello Avenue and Sixth Street and Monticello Avenue and Rialto Street,” Poncy said.
Safe Routes to School is an organization advocating for children to walk or bike to school for the health and well-being benefits. The funding will go towards improving bike and pedestrian access at the two intersections, just one and three blocks away from the school.
People take a walking tour of Monticello Avenue to view current intersections and talk about bike lanes and pedestrian crossings on Monday. Photo: Ryan M. Kelly, The Daily Progress
Several intersections were also given greater attention by the consultants as part of the long-term plans along the avenue.
“We identified [three] pedestrian hotspots where you need more than just paint to cross,” said Baxter. “These plans probably won’t be included in the initial phase, but are longer-term recommendations.”
The designs suggested bringing the curb further out to help pedestrians check traffic from both directions before stepping out on the street.
The intersection of Carlton Avenue and Monticello Avenue was briefly discussed as one potential long-term project.
“I don’t feel that motorists are at all thinking about pedestrians,” said community member Alex McGee. “When I’ve lived in other cities, they have used [a big flower planter] to make a motorist slow down and feel like they’re in a place that is human. It would be a physical obstacle, but a beautiful physical obstacle.”
Other suggestions for increasing pedestrian visibility and safety included flashing lights, re-painting the crosswalks and signage indicating the entrance into a neighborhood.
The meeting is not the first of the city’s community engagement and outreach initiatives for bicyclists and pedestrians. The city also is gaining input from community members through online interactive mapping survey that allows people to identify common bike and pedestrian routes or problem areas.
On June 18, the results of the survey map with be reviewed and discussed during a public workshop.
The city and consultants will use the community feedback as they continue to develop plans for Monticello Avenue and the 2014 bicycle and pedestrian master plan.
The master plan, anticipated to be completed this winter, is focused on implementation, creating connections that broaden and make safe the on- and off- street networks previously identified in a 2003 plan.