In today’s Times-Dispatch, reporter Graham Moomaw did a good job of summarizing last night’s meeting on the city’s proposed plan to turn Floyd Avenue into a “Bike Boulevard.”
Wrote Moomaw: About half of the intersections in a 2-mile stretch of Floyd Avenue would be impacted by traffic circles and curb extensions under a bicycle boulevard design unveiled Tuesday night. The Floyd proposal, presented to a crowd of more than 300 people at the Virginia Historical Society building, would feature 10 traffic circles and four curb extensions, also known as bump-outs or chokers, to slow vehicular traffic and create a more welcoming thoroughfare for bicyclists and pedestrians. The new measures would replace traffic signals and stop signs, though north-south traffic approaching Floyd would still have to stop.
In reading the article, I was under the impression that the proposed plan had changed a good bit since the previous public meeting in the spring, so I called Jacob Helmboldt, the city’s bike, pedestrian and trails coordinator, for a little clarification.
He said that in fact that, while they’ve been continually tweaking the plan based on public input, it hasn’t really changed all that much. Take the concept of so-called traffic diverters, or places where motor vehicle traffic would be forced to turn off of Floyd.
“That’s been one of the big issues where there’s been tons of disinformation,” Helmboldt said. He said an earlier T-D piece featured a comment “that every couple of blocks traffic would be diverted off of Floyd. That was never the plan, but that’s what kind of stuck in people’s minds. Some people were even under the impression that we were closing it entirely to motor vehicle traffic. Diverters are a tool of last resort to be used only if it was determined that people were returning to Floyd.”
Under the current plan, a diverter could be put in at Floyd and Morris, but has yet to be decided on.
Helmboldt added that, in general, public sentiment has moved toward supporting the bike boulevard concept as more accurate information about what it is and isn’t has taken hold.
“I would say it’s definitely moved more in the positive direction,” he said. “Before it was ‘I want to support it, but…’ Last night, once people were able to see the specific recommendations…it put a lot of concerns to rest and solidified the support. You’ll always have some opposition, but I really didn’t hear much afterwards (in opposition). I wasn’t getting an earful on anything.”
Helmboldt said the project could cost around $500,000, with $100,000 being paid by the city and the rest from state grant funding. But they won’t get too much farther down the road on planning and design until they get a sense that there’s enough support from city council.
Last night’s meeting was held by City Council President Charles R. Samuels, 2nd District, Councilman Jonathan T. Baliles, 1st District, and Councilman Parker C. Agelasto, 5th District, all of whose districts contain a section of the proposed bike boulevard.
Should the project go forward, Helmboldt said, construction would likely begin in early 2015, and the work could be completed by the end of next summer.