Columbia's Bicycle Boulevard successful, city looking to expand

Columbia, Missouri's Bicycle Boulevard has been a success, cutting motor vehicle traffic on the route by 45 percent while more than doubling bicycle traffic. The city is looking to expand the Bicycle Boulevard and/or add other Bicycle Boulevards around the city.

This successful project should provide a good model that other Missouri cities can duplicate.  The Link in Springfield is another similar project underway in Missouri.

Columbia's Bicycle Boulevard, on Ash and Windsor Streets in Columbia, works as many Bicycle Boulevards do, by restrict left turning and straight through movement by motor vehicles onto the Bicycle Boulevard at major intersections.  Other features, like giant murals painted on the road at intersections, help the road become a neighborhood amenity rather than simply a traffic sewer.

The result is a street where motor vehicles are allowed but the street has become more like a quiet neighborhood street with reduced traffic and reduced speed.  

For bicyclists, the street becomes a low-traffic, through route.  The same intersections where motor vehicles are restricted from turning gives special priority to bicycles to help get them across College Avenue, a busy street that was previously difficult for bicyclists to cross.

Now College Avenue has an area in the median set off by yellow plastic reflective poles that allows bicyclists to cross two lanes of traffic to the safety of the median before crossing the remaining two traffic lanes.  The result of these improvements is an easy, direct route for bicyclists between the Benton-Stevens Neighborhood and downtown Columbia.

(The streetview image of the area to the right shows the College Avenue crossing from Ash to Windsor before the Bicycle Boulevard improvements. The Columbia Tribune Diagram, below left, shows how the protected median works to improve the crossing for bicyclists.)

According to the Columbia Daily Tribune article about the Bicycle Boulevard:

The city also measured lower speeds for motorized traffic on the boulevard, with average speeds decreasing from 26 miles per hour in spring 2010 to 24 mph this spring. And residents living near the bike boulevard report liking what they have seen: A city survey revealed overwhelming support for the idea, and an overwhelming majority of respondents agreed the boulevard improves the image of the neighborhood.

“It’s beneficial to the neighborhood in other ways,” GetAbout Columbia Manager Ted Curtis said. “Even people who don’t bike tend to like it.”

Find out more about Bicycle Boulevards on or at Wikipedia. Creating a world-class bicycle and pedestrian network in Missouri is one of the four key objectives in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.  Bicycle Boulevards could be an important part of that bicycle/pedestrian network in many Missouri cities.

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