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Franklin Street Feasibility Study—Phase 2

By November 16, 2015Our Position

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is pleased to offer the following comments on the Franklin Street Feasibility Study-Phase II.

  1. In general, the primacy and importance of motor vehicle travel seems implicit throughout this document.
  2. In general, especially in the opening sections of the study, the deficiencies of bicycle and pedestrian accommodation in the corridor seem under-stated. For example, on page 23, under the description of Bike/Ped Accommodations under Roadway Characteristics Section 2.4, there is no mention of the lack of bike facilities or even shoulders on Franklin Street; the first mention of those deficiencies is page 29.  The Bayside Trail Crossing is not called out as a completely deficient bicycle crossing (and frustrating pedestrian crossing) due to the two phase crossing and the smallness of the midpoint refuge.  It is not until page 30 that the study acknowledges that “the character of the roadway is generally felt to be appropriate only for experienced, confident cyclists and pedestrians” –this statement should lead the section on Bike/Ped Accommodations on page 23.
  3. The methodology for arriving at the count values for bike/ped usage in Section 2.5.3 is not mentioned. Electronic counts?  Manual?
  4. Regarding specific design features for the proposed reconstruction:
    1. We applaud the inclusion of bicycle lanes on the redesigned roadway, but we have some concern over whether a 5 ft bike lane with a 3 ft buffer may be treated like an additional lane by aggressive drivers. Some sort of vertical buffer treatment (e.g. tubular markers, or flexible wands like those at the Westbrook St./Rt 295 exchange) would provide an extra measure of separation and comfort for less experienced people on bikes.
    2. We have concerns over the location of a bicycle lane to the right of lane where right turns are permitted. We generally prefer bike lanes to the left of right turn only lanes, or on street guidance (SLMs, advisory bike lane) that encourages bicyclists to take a more centered position in combined through/right turn lanes.  Although the proposed design puts bicyclists ahead of motor vehicles by using bike boxes, the bike lane is still to the right of the combined lane and such a configuration puts the bicycle rider in a position where right hook collisions are possible (see, for example, the proposed design of the bicycle lane at the intersection of Franklin and Cumberland). We recommend a loop sensor in the bike lane that would activate a sign reading “Turning Traffic Yield to Bicycles”.  “No Turn on Red Signs” should be posted all locations where bike boxes are used to prevent motorists from entering the bike boxes before the signal turns.  For a possible alternative treatment, see the PACTS Guide on “Bike Lane Transition Through Turn Lane”, page 44.
    3. We have reservations about the use of bicycle boxes at intersections, as it is not clear how the problem of vehicles proceeding as a rider attempts to enter the bike box just as a signal changes will be addressed. These bike boxes are also of no help for left turning bicyclists, as vehicular cyclists will use the left turn lanes and no cyclist should make a left turn from a right lane.  We wonder if two stage turn boxes (aka “queue boxes”) might be considered for less-confident cyclists who wish to make left turns.  “No Turn on Red Signs” should be posted all locations where bike boxes are used to prevent motorists from entering the bike boxes before the signal turns.
    4. The BCM welcomes any design that can safely separate bicycle traffic from motor vehicle traffic, which we feel will have the most utility to less-experienced and less-confident bicycle riders.
    5. We applaud the re-connection of streets throughout the corridor.