It is fall, which means it is that time of year when the city starts up the repaving program of local streets. I am still amazed with the accuracy and speed with which the paving contractors can mill up the old street, remove it and lay down a nice new ribbon of pavement. The work they do is pretty impressive.
This year, as part of the program, it was reported that bike lines are going to be added along Adams Street north of Staunton and Riverside drives. In all honesty, this makes quite a bit of sense. That portion of Adams Street has a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, but the way it is built with two lanes of traffic in each direction, it feels more like a small super-highway. Going 25 miles per hour is a true exercise in restraint.
The new bike lines will eliminate a lane of traffic and hopefully slow down some of the traffic, which should certainly help with safety. Given the street’s location near the junior high and high schools, it makes sense to keep traffic slow. The bike lanes will also help with students riding their bikes to school.
These new bike lines make me think it other places are ready for these bike lanes as well. It’s no secret that communities around the country are adding bike lines to their streets to promote the use of bicycles and to make streets safer by slowing traffic down. Perhaps the next best place for bike lanes in our community is right in the heart of our downtown.
I really think we have one of the most attractive downtowns that can be offered. One of the charms of our downtown is the nice, wide streets. But, in reality those wide streets almost act as a tool to get people out of downtown as quickly as possible. Add to the four lanes of traffic all across Main and Market streets, these streets certainly don’t seem to make bicycles as welcoming as possible.
Maybe the good men and women that run this city should consider adding bike lanes downtown? Taking it a step further, maybe we could add these bike lanes by getting ready of the angled parking that is located throughout downtown. I will be the first to admit that I take every precaution I can take to stay away from the angled parking downtown. Backing out into two lanes of traffic just seems like a bad idea.
So, if the angled parking is eliminated and replaced with parallel parking, all of this leads to the big question, where does everyone park? Maybe this becomes the catalyst to build a parking garage in downtown.
Now, there has been study after study after study on the vices and virtues of a downtown parking garage. While I haven’t read those surveys, I think it is safe to say that if the study would have warranted a parking garage, some action would have happened.
At the same time, there are other activities that have happened to increase parking. The city did purchase properties on Mulberry Street near the police department that will eventually become more parking. Great for the east side of downtown, but it still seems a far ways from Market Street and West Main Street.
But, as we look at traffic in downtown Troy, there are some real opportunities to make things better. Eliminating traffic lanes and angled parking and putting in bike lanes could have a tremendous effect on growing our downtown to make it more of a welcoming destination. At least, our infrastructure wouldn’t be built in such a way to get people through downtown as fast as possible and would rather encourage folks to stay downtown and enjoy what the environment has to offer.
Regardless of what happens downtown, bicycles are going to be more and more part of our transportation system. For the safety of drivers and bicyclists, it is in our community’s best interest to ensure that everyone can travel our streets in safety.
William (Bill) Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at [email protected]