Grand Avenue is undergoing a transformation between Van Buren and Roosevelt with the replacement of a
motor vehicle standard travel lane with a bicycle only travel lane and on-street parking in each direction. The average daily traffic volume on Lower Grand has dropped from over 20,000 per day in the 1980’s to 11,500 per day in 2011.
This is beneficial for bicycle travel because it will slow motor vehicle traffic and provide a designated space for people to travel separated from traffic on their bicycle. As good as it is for bicycle use, it’s even better for people traveling on foot. Parked cars provide an excellent buffer from moving traffic that enhance safety from the occasional wayward vehicle and it provides added distance between moving traffic and the human scale of the street.
What’s lesser known is these types of projects have historically been beneficial for motorists as well. Speeds are typically slower (this example in Seattle saw average speed drop from 42 to 33 MPH. Posted speed limit is 30…), reduce the number of collisions, and do not reduce traffic flow when appropriately placed. In fact, replacing a four-lane road with one lane each direction and a center turn lane can actually improve traffic flow because drivers turning left no longer impede traffic flow [that isn’t the case here; Grand was two lanes each direction and a center turn lane. The reason it works on Grand is due to the low traffic volumes.].
As of now I haven’t seen or heard of any improvements to connect the new green lanes with other bicycle routes or the Downtown core. This means once one arrives at Van Buren, the rider is forced to join mixed traffic between 7th and 6th Avenues. Fillmore doesn’t have a signal crossing 7th Avenue, so even if you’re able to find Fillmore off Grand Avenue (hint, it’s accessed via 9th or 10th Avenues), good luck crossing 7th during rush hour. Even though it’s not connected yet, the Grand Avenue green lanes are another piece of the puzzle being built to connect Downtown and its adjacent neighborhoods by active transportation modes.
***UPDATED THURSDAY MORNING AT 8:33. NEW WORDS ARE IN ITALICS, AND “MOTOR VEHICLE” HAS BEEN REPLACED BY “STANDARD” IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH.