The biggest disappointment, by far, was the removal of the protected bike lanes. The survey results are said to have determined them a failure, but were they? These results, which I analyzed (optimistically) here, showed that there was a general trend of dissatisfaction with the protected section of the bike lanes. They were considered to be aesthetically displeasing. They were also cited as making it hard for people to pull over for emergency vehicles.
This is pathetic. We rid the corridor of one of its safest features because it is vaguely unsightly? If we want Burlington residents to feel safe (and actually be safer) on North Avenue we have to do all we can, whether or not people find it pretty. North Avenue wasn’t exactly pretty to start with. As for the inability of pulling over for emergency vehicles, there are ways to remedy this, too, such as widening the space between each delineator.
One resident stood up during the public forum this past Monday to share his thoughts. He mentioned his resentment of the billions to trillions of dollars that have been spent on motorized transportation infrastructure in the past. Then he said he sees the pilot as an opportunity to improve bikers’ lives by a tremendous amount. This benefit for them is so great and unrivaled when compared to the slight discomfort the delineators/armadillos deal to drivers.
I did appreciate a sanguine comment from DPW Director Chapin Spencer about moving forward with the pilot. He referenced new roadway design, new delineators or a lift of the curb in the buffer space as possible responses to the discontent of the ones in place now. This reminds me that the pilot is an ongoing research project that will see many changes and gives me hope that there may be solutions that are better for this section that still provide the same level of safety.
Counter to our previous understanding (and others, VPR aired the same assumption), there was no vote as to whether the pilot would remain in place for another four months. Instead, the Council has adopted the recommendations made by the Burlington DPW. This meeting merely served as a check-in for if the pilot were to be a major failure they would’ve been able to remove it as this point.
The DPW will retain the North Ave configuration until June of 2017, with another checkup mid-March. They will release paper and phone surveys around this time. They will also be making signal and other minor changes as data piles in.