Saturday, October 03, 2015

All we do is win-win-win

Napoleon Avenue Roadway Configuration Image.png

They're saying the new plan is full of win
City officials released a compromise plan for Napoleon Avenue on Thursday that would maintain the size of the neutral ground and add a bike lane — without reducing the number of lanes dedicated to traffic or parking.

The idea is to reduce the width of both traffic and parking lanes by 2 feet each, rather than eliminating lanes altogether or reducing the size of the neutral ground.

The final configuration will be two 10-foot-wide vehicle travel lanes, one 5-foot-wide dedicated bicycle lane and one 7-foot-wide parking lane in each direction. The neutral ground will be restored to its original, pre-construction width of 47 feet

This is a win-win-win for area neighborhoods, motorists and cyclists,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release. “By working together, we feel confident that this roadway configuration is a reasonable accommodation for all interests.”
Is that really a "win-win-win"? Sounds more like nobody got what they wanted. Unless you count the portion of the neighborhood that wanted to make sure they didn't shrink the neutral ground, I guess. Although that wasn't the neighbors' only complaint and I'm not even sure that was their first priority.

They were also worried about the bike lanes. Specifically they were worried that a bike lane on a street like Napoleon Avenue was bound to produce a safety hazard at major intersections as they have in other places around town.  Another issue with the proposed bike lane was its placement between a lane of traffic and the on street parking which is also something that happens all over town despite being a clear safety hazard. 

Both of these issues are also frequently raised by cycling advocates to little avail so it's hard to say that this is really a "win" for them either. All they're getting now is another unsafe bike lane jammed in next to two 10 ft wide lanes of traffic which, by the way, is also not quite in keeping with the "best practices" standard for a trucking and transit artery like Napoleon Avenue.
For multi-lane roadways where transit or freight vehicles are present and require a wider travel lane, the wider lane should be the outside lane (curbside or next to parking). Inside lanes should continue to be designed at the minimum possible width. Major truck or transit routes through urban areas may require the use of wider lane widths. 

Lane widths of 10 feet are appropriate in urban areas and have a positive impact on a street's safety without impacting traffic operations. For designated truck or transit routes, one travel lane of 11 feet may be used in each direction. In select cases, narrower travel lanes (9–9.5 feet) can be effective as through lanes in conjunction with a turn lane.
The only "win" here is a slight one for the city the next time it wants to write a report about the total mileage of bike lane they've installed over the course of Mitch Landrieu's term in office. It doesn't really matter whether the bike lanes in question are actually placed where they'll be used properly or even if they do anything to protect the safety of the cyclists who have to navigate them. All that matters is that the mayor's office can make "the data show" how progressive a city we've become under their watch.
As bicycle ridership increases, the City is committed to expanding our network of bikeways. According to the League of American Bicyclists, New Orleans currently ranks fifth in the nation amongst large cities in the percentage of residents who bike to work. With the completion of the Lafitte Greenway’s bicycle and pedestrian path, New Orleans will have more than 100 miles of bikeways.
So congratulations on your 100 miles, guys.  Hope no one gets doored into a bus for the sake of it.

Aside:  Because, like you probably do, I thought the artistic rendering of Napoleon Avenue lined with beach hotels from 1920s Atlantic City looked kind of weird, I found out that the image is generated by a generic design program called Streetmix.What's great about that is, if you don't like what the city has come up with, maybe you can play around with this app and make your own Napoleon Avenue. Sadly, I can't find the button that puts the crepe myrtles back.

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