Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New diet coming to Selwyn Avenue

Here's a tidbit from the city council's Friday memo. A section of Selwyn Avenue is on the schedule to join some other in-town streets in a "road diet." As with East Boulevard and with several blocks of South Tryon Street, the city Transportation Department is going to shrink a chunk of Selwyn from four lanes to three.

The idea is that where you don't need the lane capacity, having fewer lanes can A) encourage bicyclists by adding bike lanes or extra pavement width, and pedestrians and B) work to subtly slow traffic. After all, the biggest contributor to traffic accidents in a city is – not trees, not telephone poles, not bicyclists – speed.

Here's the section from the memo. Warning, CDOT jargon ahead:

Selwyn Avenue Street Conversion
Staff Resource: Johanna Quinn, CDOT, 704-336-5606, jquinn@ci.charlotte.nc.us

Each year CDOT staff identifies streets scheduled for resurfacing that could be candidates for
conversions. Typically, these are streets where the curb to curb space can be reallocated from four travel lanes, to 3 travel lanes and bicycle lanes. CDOT staff evaluates operating conditions at intersections and street segments, analyzes connectivity and multi-modal travel factors, prepares a technical recommendation, and informs the public. CDOT moves forward with road conversions that provide benefits to bicyclists, pedestrians, and neighborhood residents, while continuing satisfactory traffic operations.

Selwyn Avenue is on the 2010 resurfacing list. Staff has determined that the four-lane segment between Queens Road West and Colony Road should be converted from four lanes to three lanes with a 3.5 ft. wide outside shoulder. The new three-lane configuration will have one through lane in each direction and a two-way center left turn lane with dedicated left-turn lanes at side streets. The installation of a dedicated left-turn lane at Colony Road will require removal of the peak two-hour turn restriction from southbound Selwyn onto Colony Road.

Area residents are aware of this conversion and have had the opportunity to provide feedback at a public meeting, online surveys, and through the Myers Park Homeowners Association. A postcard mailer was distributed May 14, 2010 to notify residents that the changes will be
implemented this summer.

Staff considered a street conversion for the last remaining four-lane segment of Selwyn Avenue between Queens Road West and Westfield Road, but decided against it. A conversion would have to be asymmetrical and would take away some lane width, which would affect cyclists who regularly use this road segment as part of the “booty loop”. Staff took this proposal to the Bicycle Advocacy Committee which decided that cyclists and motorists have settled into a travel pattern that functions well for all users in this area.

Resurfacing Selwyn Avenue is scheduled for June. This will allow resurfacing to take place during Queens University’s summer break and enough time for all resurfacing debris to be cleared before 24 Hours of Booty at the end of July.

11 comments:

Propositor said...

Related but not. I went on Google Earth after reading your post to check out Selwyn and noticed that the satellite imagery has been updated! The Charlotte area is now current to April 11, 2010!! This is like a mini birthday present.

David said...

East Blvd is worse off and now has more wrecks than before. This will not make it more pedestrian or bicycle friendly. The DOT and our elected officials are a bunch of idiots. I've seen more wrecks on East Blvd than ever before. Great job DOT and elected Charlotte officials for making traffic worse on these roads!

tozmervo said...

I think the problem on East right now is that the temporary lane markings and old stripes are all out of whack. Once they finish the job and mark off the new lanes and parallel parking, I think the changes will be much more effective.

KLN said...

To the Bicycle Advocacy group: the section of road between Westfield and Queens Rd West has not settled into a pattern that works well for all users. Many, many, many times I have been on the one lane sectin which is about a lane and a half wide where the bike riders were either not riding to the right and worse and more frequently, they ride two and three bikes abreast there. This blocks traffic which is dangerous and riding side by side is illegal. if you want drivers to respect your right to the road then the respect has to be reciprocated. I see more problems with bike rides not respecting the laws on Selwyn than cars not giving bikes the road.

Bob said...

My experience with East blvd is that it is MUCH more pedestrian friendly. Admitedly driving it is tricky with everything in flux but, based on my experience with the stretch of East blvd which was slimmed several years ago I expect the conditions to improve for drivers dramatically once complete.

Hunter said...

Due to the fact that the majority of the bikers that ride in this area do not actually live in this area, their "needs" to shrink the road for additional bike lanes should not be a priority. This has ruined east boulevard and will only cause more congestion on Selwyn.

J said...

I think these "road diets" are a good thing. It gives everyone choices - it's not an ultra-liberal do-gooder telling everyone what to do, and it's not some super-selfish conservative who just wants it his way. You can choose to travel these roads by car, bike or foot, whichever you prefer. That's why I'm the wierd combo of a conservative who likes expansion of public transit. I believe we should have choices - live close in within multi-family dwellings and take public transit, or live further out in a single-family home with a big yard and drive everywhere. Whatever is best for you.

Propositor - indeed it is! To finally have satellite imagery that doesn't still have the Charlotte Coliseum standing. Nice to have it updated.

Bob said...

Hunter said:
"This has ruined east boulevard and will only cause more congestion on Selwyn."

Do you have any actual data to support those statements?

My experience with East blvd has been of dramatic improvement for both pedestrians and (and the Freedom park end of the street) drivers.

Mary Newsom said...

David and Bob:
I, too, would like to see before-and-after accident data - including pedestrian/bicycle accidents - on East Boulevard and any other "road-diet" streets that have been around long enough to get decent data. I'll see what I can rustle up.

Towner Blackstock said...

As a Club Colony resident (that is, the neighborhood comprised of Colony Road and adjoining streets between Myers Park High and Selwyn), I'm antsy about this conversion. On one hand, the sidewalks along that stretch of Selwyn are wholly inadequate. The conversion will certainly improve pedestrian safety. (Just try to navigate that stretch with a baby stroller now.) On the other hand, is it wise to reduce capacity on Selwyn after multiple development projects (multifamily housing, offices, restaurants) have been started or approved? We already experience a heavy burden of cut-through traffic between commuters and the school. The Selwyn changes coupled with growth will likely worsen our traffic load, which already exceeds the design standards for Colony.

Danyelle said...

I travel on Selwyn Road every day to and from work coming from Queens College. In the past 2 days I have almost had 4 wrecks. The flow of traffic has changed but no one has thought to mark the road or put up street signs to mark the change. Coming from Queens College the road used to be 2 lanes going toward Selwyn. Now there is a lane to go straight and the other lane is now a turning lane. You would not know the difference until its too late when you go through the interesection and on to one lane. I was in the lane to go straight as a motorcyclist comes through the light right on my side. He comes into my lane after realizing that there is only one lane making me go head on into the other lane where cars are coming. Do we have to be seriously injured before some one does something about this????