A State DOT Designing a Protected Bike Lane? It’s Happening in Kalamazoo

Part of Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo will get a road diet and a new protected bike lane, under plans approved this week. Image: Alta Planning + Design via Mlive.com
Part of Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo will get a road diet and a two-way protected bike lane in a redesign put forward this week by the city and Michigan DOT. Image: Alta Planning + Design via Mlive.com

A tipster in Chicago sent over these images of an impressive street redesign planned for downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan. The treatment shown above — a two-way parking-protected bike lane with planted pedestrian islands — will apply to about a mile of Michigan Avenue, near Western Michigan University. Protected lanes would continue north on Rose Street and east on Water Street, linking up to the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.

What makes this project especially unusual is that it is being led jointly by the city of Kalamazoo and the Michigan Department of Transportation. Generally, state DOTs have been obstacles to protected bike lanes, not leaders. Plans call for removing one traffic lane on Michigan Avenue, a state road, and 20 to 30 parking spots on Water Street, reports Emily Monacelli at the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The Michigan Avenue redesign is part of a larger bike network being developed with extensive public input. Planners told Monacelli that feedback since the design was unveiled has been very positive.

However, the project isn’t exactly on the fast track. Before implementation, it will undergo a two-year design phase, the Gazette reports.

  • Gezellig

    “With large numbers of motor vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians you’re faced with two choices. Time separation via signals might work OK for safety but it introduces delay.”

    That kind of delay can be significantly reduced through smart timing such as Green Waves. If you’ve biked in the Netherlands on cycletracks along busy arterials you’ll notice, too, that delays tend to be minimal due to smart timing even when going through many signalized intersections.

    Even here in SF I definitely notice how pleasant it is biking down Green Waves as everyone gets to sail through green after green. Friends I’ve introduced biking to here have consistently mentioned experiences like that as pleasant surprises. I’m sure we’re not the only ones.

    Btw the biggest issue the Interested But Concerned routinely mention is safety, not concern for delays at lights–they’re already used to that as a given when they’re drivers, pedestrians, bus-takers, etc.. Add in a Green Wave and you’re already pleasantly exceeding expectations and getting people places faster.

    When space and resources allow, occasional grade separation can indeed be great, I’m not discounting that. But on a pervasive basis it’s not the low-hanging fruit of getting lots more people to bike.

  • lop

    Not overnight, and probably some good projects will still get turned down but there will be support for further cycling facilities. My point is if all you care about is that the city build cycling facilities fast enough for you to enjoy them you are likely to be disappointed. A better system twenty or thirty years out is much more feasible.

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