July 31, 2012

High Street On-Street Parking

Things are changing in Columbus. In Summer 2011, COTA released a downtown operations plan which included various proposals to divert buses from High Street in order to allow for on-street parking. Ultimately, the study indicated that none of the alternatives were sufficient to allow for on-street parking. John Wirtz of Xing Columbus has an excellent overview of the COTA Downtown Operations plan.

One thing which was not discussed in-depth was the option adding parking without modifying COTA. This is likely due to the amount of buses going downtown. The Short North has unrestricted on-street parking, but it's not quite like downtown:

Now city planners are discussing adding on-street parking to High Street during off-peak hours. Peak hours are 7:00 - 9:00 AM and 4:00 - 6:00 PM. While I have my doubts that the convenience for people parking would add more store traffic than the people inconvenienced using transit, but I really just want to discuss the bike options. Let me repost the options:

The options are:
  1. 10' turn only lane  |  10' travel   |   10' bus/parking   |  5' bike lane on curb
  2. 10' turn only lane  |  10' travel   |     5' bike lane      |  10' bus/parking  
  3. 10' turn only lane  |  11' travel   |   14' bus/sharrows/parking
Due to bus conflicts, I would knock the first option right out. As we can remember, there is no bike/bus conflict; the buses (understandably) go into the bike lane:

Option 2 is interesting but due to the conflicts of cars parking, car doors opening, and buses merging into and out of traffic. Without research, I feel like drivers would give less room to someone in a bike lane than someone in a sharrow traffic/parking lane.

Option 3 is likely the best although it's odd that the travel lanes have increased from 10' to 11'. I would have preferred that the bike / bus / parking lane would have 15' instead of 14'.

Finally, I think the best option for bikers and transit users would be either Option 2 or Option 3 without on-street parking. Buses will be forced to merge into and out of traffic with higher frequency than in the Short North which will delay transit users and may increase the risk to cyclists.

Cool link of the day: A poster of New York City with ONLY bike lanes:


  1. Option 3 looks like the best choice to me.

    Option 1 is not designed to meet minimum width standards. There should be a three foot minimum buffer between parked cars and bikes if the bikes are in a curb lane. It also presents too many conflicts with stopped buses.

    Option 2 squeezes a minimum width bike lane between too minimum width travel lanes. Furthermore, the minimum width for a bus lane should really be 11 feet instead of 10 feet. This option doesn't give bikes enough lateral clearance. And there is research showing that bikes get less clearance from drivers with bike lanes than without bike lanes.

    1. Do you know if there's any research given to cyclists who are using a shared lane (i.e., sharrows in a parking lane)? I would presume that the distance between car and bike in a travel lane vs shared use sharrow lane would be similar to the distance between a car and bike in a travel lane vs. bike lane as mentioned in the Atlantic Cities, but I could see how some psychological differences would change passing distances.

  2. I have seen some research on the lateral position of cyclists and clearance given by passing motorists, but I can't seem to find it. IIRC, bike lanes reduce the clearance given by motorists, but there was no evaluation of the safety impacts. The marked bike lane lines could just let people make more accurate judgments about their lateral position, allowing them to pass more closely, but still safely. I believe I also have a friend working on a similar study right now. I'll ask.

    Also, sharrows shouldn't be installed in a parking lane. They should be centered four feet from the face of curb if there is no parking or four feet from the edge of the parking lane (11-12 feet off of the curb). Sometimes they can also be placed in the middle of the right-most travel lane.

    1. Followed up on the research my friend is doing. It's just for lateral position of cyclists in bike lanes of different widths, not for bike lanes vs. sharrows.

    2. Is there much research into the lateral position of cyclists with respect to sharrows? This is the closest I've seen to a document which covers it:



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