October 9, 2012

Sullivant Avenue Bike Treatment

Sullivant Avenue is a road which travels east-west through the hilltop. According to MORPC compiled crash data, it is the 2nd most dangerous corridor for bicyclists/pedestrians in Franklin County.

As Xing Columbus noted, the analysis of the data misses the frequency of crashes. In other words, are high crashes due to there being a large number of pedestrians/cyclists on the roadway or is it due to a small number of pedestrians/cyclists navigating in a dangerous roadway design? Regardless of the answer, Sullivant Avenue is higher than most other corridors with respect to fatal crashes involving pedestrians/cyclists and the 5th highest with incapacitating crashes.

Most of this segment is a 4-lane road with peak-hour parking restrictions. The City of Columbus proposed a road diet between Hague Ave. and Yale Ave. with permanent parking on one-side of the street, a center turn lane, and a travel lane in each direction. The area in question would cover most of the area analyzed by MORPC. Outside of the MORPC area, the City primarily proposes sharrows with limited areas of a share-use, off-street path to get people from Georgesville Road to downtown.

Sullivant Avenue very much follows a grid system which means there are a lot of intersections which mean people are turning a lot. The implementation of a center turn lane should alleviate side-swiping and people continuously merging lane-to-lane to avoid other motors turning. 

Sample of the grid on Sullivant avenue
As a cyclist I believe that the road diet would marginally increase safety for cyclists at best. But the safety of pedestrians (one-less lane to cross) and motorists (fewer chances to make risky decisions) make this a worthwhile endeavor for the City to pursue. The City indicated that traffic analysis was done to determine that Level of Service would not be significantly impacted by the road diet.

For now, however, the City will have to hold its plans on any road diets. The City asked the Greater Hilltop Area Commision (GHAC) to adopt the plan. Chuck Patterson, the President of the GHAC, provided me the following information regarding the last meeting held:

"The Sullivant Ave. transportation plan was not adopted by GHAC. This was not so much because of bike lanes as it was concern over having only one lane of traffic moving in either direction on Sullivant Ave..

Mr. Popa [of Division of Mobility Options] indicated that the city was also aware of the prudence of waiting to see the as yet unknown impact of casino traffic in the area before moving forward with a new plan. We do expect to revisit ideas for this corridor in early 2013 after some new statistics are available and the city has had the opportunity to revise or maintain their vision for the area. 
There were 14 members in attendance at this meeting. The vote was structured as 'To approve as submitted the Sullivant Ave. transportation plan'. The vote tally was 13-1 with Mr. Boggs being the affirmative vote."
I have no plans on changing my commute one-way-or-the-other based on Sullivant Avenue bikeway improvements. But in the meantime, I plan on analyzing crash data to determine if there is a high rate of car crashes in addition to pedestrian/cyclist related crashes.

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