First, if you’re not sure what the pilot is, see here.
One of the few protected bike lanes in Vermont is up for a vote this coming Monday. In preparation for the city council meeting, held at 7 p.m. on Monday at City Hall, the Burlington Department of Public Works (DPW) released a package of materials on their webpage. In this package are the survey results from the online community survey they released in mid-September and wrapped up on October 2nd as well as updated data reports collected by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC). Below we begin to examine the survey results from the 2000-plus that filled it out and the data that the CCRPC has released.
One of the most intriguing results we see is that (above) the results from all respondents show 43 percent satisfaction in the protected bike lanes. However, when surveying just those who said they’d biked recently on North Avenue, that number jumps to 68 percent. Meanwhile, level of comfortability and a general safe feeling remained high among that community (which, by the way, is over 1200 people of the 2000-ish that we’re surveyed).
And, 78 percent of everyone felt safer as a biker.
The spike in satisfaction by those who actually bike the corridor and who actually use the bike lanes shows that the major opposition of the bike lanes are just from those who drive by and don’t even use them. They seem to be more concerned with things like their travel time.
Keep in mind, though, one of the major goals of the pilot is to calm traffic in an effort to discourage speeding, make the corridor safer for both car users and to those who bike and walk it. Going into this pilot the DPW forecasted expected travel times along the corridor to increase by about a minute for both AM peaks (7-9 a.m.) and PM peaks (4-6 p.m.), and barely at all for off-peak times. What they’ve found is that the average AM peak travel times have hardly increased, by at most 20 seconds, on average, despite the pilot’s implementation (below).
Average PM peak travel times have increased a bit more, with northbound times increasing by about 70-80 seconds. This is only 10-20 seconds more than what they’ve forecasted. See below.
Meanwhile, cyclists using the road have nearly doubled, and pedestrians have seen a slight increase as well (below). These numbers are based on the average of four intersections during peak hours (so, four hours total, 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.). Before the pilot we were seeing 9 bikers per hour on the road, now we’re seeing more than 17 per hour.
So, the data shows that travel times have increased, but as expected and in line with the project goals of traffic calming and increasing the safety of the roadway. The bikers have also increased along the corridor, likely because they feel safer and more comfortable as the survey reflected. Keep a look out for more on North Avenue! And, if you’re so inclined, come out to the city council meeting this coming Monday where they’ll vote on whether to keep the pilot through the winter!