Home All EDITORIAL: I Don’t Understand 8th Street and Here’s the Photos to Prove...

EDITORIAL: I Don’t Understand 8th Street and Here’s the Photos to Prove It

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8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo
8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo
8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo
8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw 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.

8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo
8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo
8th Street in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

Woodmere Ave. in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo
Woodmere Ave. in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

Woodmere Ave. in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo
Woodmere Ave. in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

Woodmere Ave. in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo
Woodmere Ave. in Traverse City | Jane Boursaw Photo

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55 COMMENTS

  1. I suggest 2K be spent on sending via airplane the schmucks who designed this convoluded mess to the big city of Houston and see how our city configures our streets to accomodate biyclists. They all need to get out their hot wheels and walmart road rug and plan again….a former TC resident

  2. 8th Street is a wreck! It needs to go back to 4 lanes that’s it, period. If you need to ride your bike use the side walk like I do. I never use the road unless I really need to. Roads are for cars not bikes, there’s always a sidewalk so use it!!!!!

    • Case B,

      Not a fan of the 8th St project at all, but you’re entirely wrong. Cyclists have had road rights longer than cars, in fact, and it’s much safer to take the lane (again, because cyclists can). It’s also technically against the law to ride on downtown sidewalks, plus you run the risks of narrower shared space, and constant threat from vehicles entering and exiting the roadway.

      The obvious solution is to use either the TART on one side of 8th, or the residential cross town bike route on Washington St. This horrible waste of yet more money is clearly just serving someone’s agenda. TC needs a complete housecleaning in both City and County Commissions.

    • Please don’t. Sidewalks are meant for pedestrians. It’s really a pain to have to dodge cyclists on the sidewalk all the time, especially when there are designated bike lanes right there.

    • Case b YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD! As my parents always told me when I rode my bicycle, STAY OUT OF THE STREET and STAY ON THE SIDEWALK!

  3. What happens when the cycling lane is to the right side of the road, and a cyclist is going straight through the intersection with a green light….and a car on their left is turning right? A friend of mine gets hit, that’s what.

  4. If the city wants to make the roads safer for bicyclists, it should first start by making travel for motorists easier. I would imagine the most dangerous thing for bicyclists is a motorist with road rage, which is all 8th St. (and the Front St. project for that matter) has created.

  5. I almost killed a bicyclist in that messed up exchange where a bike has to cross in front of traffic. Scared me and the kids. I was totally shocked and caught off guard 1-because a bike shouldn’t be crossing in front of cars and 2- because I’ve never actually seen a bike use the 8th Street bike lanes, they’re typically on the sidewalk or on the bike trail than a block away…..

  6. What is your suggested solution to all this? You have a decent commentary on the situation, but I see no solution.

    Honestly, if I were a cyclist, I don’t think I’d have much issue with the intersection. But the addition of a second right turn bike lane could ease the situation, for those will confused about what to do.

    And if a driver can’t decide where they’re headed while on 8th before the lane split, I think there is a bigger issue at hand. Not to mention the idea of taking a left from a right turn lane, which is dangerous for the driver of any vehicle, let alone the cyclists.

    • Most of my bicycling is out here on the Old Mission Peninsula. But I wonder if there’s a reason why bikers don’t use the TART trail through that 8th and Woodmere area. If I rode in town, that’s probably what I would do.

    • Automotive traffic flow through Traverse City is the issue. To state the obvious. We need to improve on automobile traffic issues. Riding bikes on the road is already permissible! So stop wasting my taxes.

  7. Put a couple cameras at that intersection and watch the oops, whoops and ouches of what really happens at all hours, and also a detailed receipt on what that $100,000.00 really paid for!

  8. I am an avid runner and biker. I have written about this debacle before. Here is my take on the 8th street and Woodmere stupidity, the city commission has put runners, bikers and vehicles into. As the pictures show above bikers and vehicle cross paths in several locations. Bikers and runners have the tart trail and the Boardman Bridge next to the library to get across town with out having to deal with vehicles. As a runner and biker I am afraid of all the traffic I have almost been hit several times as I try to navigate this area in question. I blame the city commission for causing these issues, not the drivers. the city commission cannot possible be level headed thinkers if the believe that it is safe and in the best interest of the community for vehicles and bikers to exchange lanes safely with out issues. There will be blood spilled because of their lack of common sense on this issue. Put 8th street back to 2 lanes east and west bound. Runners and bikers can commute across town by using the tart trail or the boardman bridge next to the library. Why is it that the residents have so much concern on keeping everyone safe vehicles and bikers alike but the commissioners refuse to listen to use, don’t we elect and pay for them to be on the commission? Maybe it will take one major accident for them to pull their heads out of each others bottoms to listen to all of us and replace 8th street and Woodmere the way in was and the way it has worked effectively for so many years. The only thing 8th street needed was repaved from court house intersection all the way down to brick wheels and if memory serves me correctly that is done. This reply is also meant for Christine Maxbauer that Stupid &^*^% needs to be thrown out of office, she is an idiot!

  9. I’d like to add after browsing a few comments, most of which are logical, bikers still don’t pay a registration fee do they? Maybe if you had to acquire a bicycling license, and pay yearly registration fees, the destruction of a perfectly good road would be easier to stomach. Oh, here’s a novel idea, use that money to add to tart trail and include a biker only lane there!

  10. We have these all over Seattle. They are not too hard to get used to-as a driver OR a cyclist. The cyclist doesn’t need a green lane to turn right. They follow the rules of the road. It’s there to help traffic see cyclists going straight when there is a right turn lane. Drivers need to lighten up in TC. So many people bitch about the cyclists and CHANGE to their roads. As a cyclist myself, it is more frightening and less safe to ride on the sidewalk. Ease up TC, educate yourself, and try to consider the safety of the cyclists. It’s not that hard to drive when you are paying attention to what is around you. Drive in your lane. Look before you turn. Most cyclists also have cars and pay for their registration fee. It is wrong to assume that cyclists just have bikes as transportation. The TART trail is great-in most areas. There is poor signage and it is unsafe to cross the road in some areas (for pedestrians AND cyclists).

  11. Please, please, return 8th St. to four lanes.I live on a street that is only accessed from 8th St. The traffic back up makes it virtually impossible to leave my street from late afternoon until dark. I drive out of my way to avoid the Woodmere nightmare. That means neighborhood streets. Funneling two lanes of traffic into one has the expected outcome. Please

  12. I agree that the most recent striping that extend the length of the left turn lane is confusing. Veering left to go straight is not intuitive. But the bike lane between the through lane and the turn lane is common nationally. I saw and used many in Philly. A biker tuning right can either join the TART trail earlier on join the traffic lane. This is really a question of every one (drivers and bikers) learning and adopting standard guidelines and rules for how cars and bikes interact and share the roads. Even despite that, none of us plow down people jay walking across Grandview Parkway in the summer. It will be fine.

  13. THANK YOU for so successfully capturing the confusion that is going on at this corner. It is worse than before! The magically occurring bike lane would be worthy of satire if it weren’t for the fact that eventually some poor schmuck will be held liable for an accident that will eventually occur here.

    While you are at it, can you also photograph Garfield and Airport? Typical traffic light behavior is for a flashing yellow left turn arrow to turn into a solid green left turn arrow. At this intersection, the flashing yellow arrow turns into a red light! Good luck if you’ve pulled into the center of the intersection on the flashing yellow!

  14. Die Hard Bikers , pedaling their ass (which is illegal in Michigan) in the winter ? NO
    the 86’th district court calls them Defendants …

  15. Maybe if you are easily confused when it comes to road markings you shouldn’t be driving a motorized vehicle.

    People ride bikes to and from work. People ride bikes to and from the store. People ride bikes for many more reasons than just exercise. For that reason, the TART does not get people where they need to go. If anything more roads in Traverse City need to add protected bike lanes, not remove them from 8th street.

    Bicycles have the same right to use the road as cars. One type of vehicle does not have a superior right to the road over the other. Cars are to yield to bicyclists, and if you are so incompetent at driving a motor vehicle, and observing road markings (as illustrated in the photos) that you strike a bicyclist, you will get a ticket, and you will have the fact that you caused harm to another human being on your mind the rest of your life.

    Same roads. Same rules. Drive safe out there … that goes for all vehicles.

    • I wonder what happens, though, if the roads are covered in snow. If the biker knows where the bike lanes are, and is actively using those lanes (like the one in the middle of 8th Street heading east), but the vehicle driver is not able to see those lanes because they’re snow-covered, I wonder what the legalities are there. Would the driver get a ticket if they struck a biker who’s using the snow-covered lanes properly?

      I really like some of the commenters who’ve suggested using the nearby residential neighborhood streets as cross-town bike routes, and just avoiding 8th Street altogether.

      • It would seem to me, regardless of what is or is not on the road, that if a driver strikes a cyclist, the driver would be at fault assuming the cyclist uses the least bit of common sense. Cars move much faster than bikes. I’ve lived in Ann Arbor for years with bike lanes like these and have never had a problem as a driver or a cyclist. As a driver, if you see a cyclist and you’re unsure, slow down and give some space. In a car, it only takes a second of two out of your drive to make sure everyone is safe. As for losing the bike lane, that’s really no problem as bikes have the same right to the driving lane as cars. If a car has to slow down to wait to get around a bike, then do that.

        • As a side note, there could be other reasons why it would be good to switch back to 4 lanes, like the massive traffic backups.

  16. I drive 8th street often and don’t see how the change to 3 lanes has accomplished anything positive enough to justify the money spent on the consultants. The money should have been spent to fix the road surface! When’s that going to happen? I agree with above comment …people need to get around town other than on the TART trails, which are wonderful for their intended purpose also. But come on, a change is not always an improvement!

  17. There is a lot of misunderstanding about laws as it applies to bicycles on the road. For a detailed breakdown on Michigan, go here: http://www.lmb.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=21&Itemid=38 instead of relying on the assertions of commenters, which are frequently wrong.

    There is nothing illegal about riding a bicycle on the road during any season, unless it is specifically prohibited such as on an interstate freeway. The road is the safest place to ride a bicycle – statistically twice as safe as the sidewalk, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

    It is too bad this particular lane is not well designed, but I applaud TC for addressing non-motorized traffic as a way of getting more out of the infrastructure for all travelers. Every bike on the road is one less car, and that helps everyone get around faster.

    As for the comment that cyclists ought to pay registration fees because of their impact on the road, less than 50% of the cost of roads are covered by user fees (gas taxes, vehicle registrations, etc.). The rest is subsidized by general tax funds paid by everyone. That is, drivers are heavily subsidized by non-drivers. Bikes weigh almost nothing and consequently do not damage roads. The argument that cyclists should pay for roads is silly. They already do pay – and more than their share.

  18. We need 8th Street to be like it was,before 2015.
    It worked fine.
    I do worry about some one getting hit on a bike,or a runner.
    We my husband and I are very cautious about pulling in and out of Riverine onto 8th Street, and going towards Woodmere. Kinda scary.
    I live at Riverine Condos, and apartments, and it is a bit of a headache to pull out of the driveway onto 8th Street.

  19. Maybe I am old school- when I want to cross a busy intersection with many options for a driver, I dismount my bike and walk it across at the intersection. Ya, it’s a pain but I feel much safer following the crosswalk laws. Drivers know exactly what I am doing. I use the tart trail a lot- major kudos to them!! Never ride on the sidewalk. Not only a danger to pedestrians, but cars leaving driveways can’t see you approaching. I have been run into by bikers like that. 8th street is a mess now. The cost to find out if it is working and what is a wrong is a waste. Although I am a huge fan of Seattle- lets not judge TC so harshly. We have tried it for a year. We are not Seattle, the road is used by cars all year, all of the time. The need is to move traffic with bikers safety, not redesigning things for a few bikers a few months of the year. Bikers have options- cars don’t- return it to 4 lanes.

  20. This just goes to show, as a cyclist, how much education we need to provide to the general public, including other cyclists. everybody needs to review the rules, and help explain them. I personal hate seeing bicyclist on the wrong side of the road and not using a helmet, or on a sidewalk. i take that opportunity to explain to them the rules in a positive manner- nobody likes to be yelled at. So if you see a bicyclist on eighth street, just be considerate and give him room, he is trying to get somewhere just like you are.

  21. They are all over Arizona in flagstaff same thing lol you drivers just need to share the road with bikers… No one in flagstaff has gotten hit yet that I know of!!! It all goes with traffic!!!! Ride your bike ya might understand!!!!!!

  22. Part time Houstonian. Let the bikers follow the rules of the road as autos do. Also require riders license, insurance and vehicle inspection yearly.

  23. Bikes don’t belong on the road period. I don’t know who allowed that in the first place but dumbest thing in the history of travel, at least on the sidewalk the pedestrian and biker each have a fighting chance to live if in fact they do collide? which you’d have to be totally blind not to see that coming.

  24. TC apparently loves to spend money on studies. Perhaps because no one is smart enough to decide what to do!?!?Such a HOOT !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. It seems like people are forgetting that half of the year the roadway is covered in snow. I visited TC over New Years when there was considerable snow covering the roads. Being unfamiliar with the new road lanes, in addition to the fact that I couldn’t see the lane lines, made it a bit uncomfortable to drive, especially since the snow didn’t deter bicyclists. The roads were slippery, and I was trying to keep a safe distance between myself the bicyclists, but rounding corners wasn’t easy for either of us. A police officer happened to be following behind me, which didn’t calm my nerves as I was guessing as best as I could where the heck my driving lane was. I’m all for sharing the roadways with bicyclists and making the town more accessible by bike, but this project seems dangerous considering how much snowfall TC gets.

  26. The green marking used in this pilot case are quite common in many areas of the country and the world. They are all over downtown San Diego (where I am at the moment) and I guess I am just used to seeing them. Don’t even think twice about them. They are meant to call attention to potentially high conflict intersections. It seems to work because you’ve certainly noticed them, though apparently don’t like them, nor do you state any better solution.

    Traverse City (not unlike San Diego) is gifted with old infrastructure and fewer deconfliction options than new planed communities. Weaving back and forth on Eigth street before the restriping was annoying too.

    I’m glad to see people are trying new things and while certain aspects of these
    green lanes could be designed a bit better I applaud people for trying. World class towns take into account pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Northern Michigan, including Grand Traverse County, have been slow to catch on.

    I’ve ridden my bike across many states and other countries. I have been hit by a car twice, both times were on the peninsula. Luckily, I walked away uninjured. Numerous options exist to bring greater awareness to pedestrians and cyclists, but just getting any restricting done last year seemed to be a chore.

    http://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/bikeway-signing-marking/colored-bike-facilities/

    Not mentioned in your article is a better solution. Simply saying

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