One of the most talked-about issues in Traverse City over the past year is the 8th Street restriping project. As I understand it, in 2014, city commissioners approved a one-year pilot to restripe the four-lane east-west corridor between Woodmere and Lake Avenues to two lanes, with bike lanes and a center turn lane. The project prompted residents and businesses along there to install lawn signs with “Fix 8th Street” and “Return 8th Street” to four lanes.
According to this Record-Eagle story dated Dec. 28, 2015, there’s now a $100,000 study taking place, wherein consultants will run “an intense week-long public engagement process in May known as a charrette,” to redesign Eighth Street between Cass and Barlow Streets.
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Ok, I’m no city planner, but based on the aforementioned restriping project, I’ve got some doubts about the new study. If they gave me $100,000, I bet I could come up with something that’ll work for everyone.
Let’s take a look at what we’ve got on 8th Street and Woodmere Avenue right now. Don’t worry – my husband was driving while I took photos, as we tried to figure out what the heck cars and bicyclists are supposed to do.
1) Here we are driving east on 8th Street. You can see that out of the blue, there’s a bicycle lane smack in the middle of the street. If the bicyclists are on the right side of the road prior to this, they’re going to have to cross traffic to get into that coveted bike lane. All that’s missing are the drains for the blood to flow down. The guy in front of us is still partially in that lane, because he’s not sure what he’s supposed to do either.
2) Now we’re up around the corner, still traveling east on 8th Street. Apparently, you’ve got to make up your mind whether you’re going straight or turning right, way back on 8th Street, in the first photo above. Because if you get to this point and decide you’re going to turn right on Woodmere, there will be blood. There’s also no way for the biker to turn right. His one and only option is to go straight.
3) Here’s a closer look at that intersection. As the bright green paint signifies, whoever is in that bike lane is going straight, gosh darnit. I have no idea how the biker would turn right onto Woodmere, unless, of course, he uses the handy TART trail that’s just a half-block to the right of this photo.
4) Ok, now we’re past the 8th Street/Woodmere Ave. intersection, still headed east on 8th Street. If the biker has survived to this point, he soon discovers that he’s run out of road. His only option here is to swerve into the sidewalk or risk life and limb by staying on the road. Thankfully, McLain Cycle is that red building on the right, and Brick Wheels is directly to the right of the photo – which is super handy if your bike is now a crumpled mess and you need a new one.
5) Still traveling east on 8th Street, just to see if there might possibly be some hidden bike lane up ahead. Nope. That’s a car parked there. If the biker has managed to get this far, he has a few choices: run into the back of that car; navigate around it on the left; or swerve into the sidewalk after getting his new bike at McLain Cycle. Or, you know, he could just take the TART trail a half-block to the right.
6) Now let’s take a look at things from Woodmere Ave. Here we are on Woodmere traveling towards 8th Street. As you can see, we’re rapidly approaching what appears to be a bike lane. Where the biker is previous to this point, I have no idea.
7) As we get closer to 8th Street, we’re pretty sure that’s a bike lane on the left of us. At least, it looks like it might be a biker painted in that lane. Similar to the 8th Street photo above, we’ve got to be darn sure which way we’re going at this point. Turning right is not a problem, but if we decide to follow the road around to the left, well, good luck, biker to the left of us.
8) Ok, here we are at the intersection of Woodmere and 8th Street. If the biker is still alive at this point, he’s good to travel through the light and head west down 8th Street. However, if the roads have the slightest bit of snow on them (after all, we’ve got a lot of die-hard bikers in northern Michigan who ride through the winter), then all bets are off and chaos reigns.