Bradford St Climbing Lanes Hearing

Public Hearing: Monday, January 8, 2018, during the 6 PM Provincetown Board of Selectmen meeting in the Judge Welsh Room in Town Hall, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown. Download the Public Hearing Notice | Download the Meeting Agenda | Download the Meeting Packet


The Provincetown Board of Selectmen are holding a public hearing on Monday to solicit public feedback on some options for bike improvements to Bradford St. from Central St. to Carver St. This section of the street is scheduled be repaved and re-striped in the spring.

The Bicycle Committee has been advocating for uphill climbing lanes, and this segment of Bradford St. is one of the areas most in need of improvement. Back in 2016, the committee requested climbing lanes at the fall Traffic Hearing, and the selectmen chose to defer any decision until the street was set to be repaved. Since that time, the selectmen have adopted the Outer Cape Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan as the bike master plan for town. I’ve also done some analysis on crashes throughout town, and this segment of road is one of the top 4 in the number of crashes that town reported to the state from 2002-2015.

Crash Hot Spots in Provincetown (MassDOT data)
Crash Hot Spots in Provincetown (MassDOT data)

 

The Hearing

The town’s Department of Public Works will be presenting their recommendations at the hearing and members of the Bicycle Committee will be on hand to provide public comment in favor of a climbing lane up the hill.

The meeting packet contains three alternative concepts put together by the town’s consulting engineers:

Alternative 1

The first scheme is essentially no improvements, just adding sharrow pavement markings on the street. It retains the 3 ft sidewalk on the northern side of the street, two 10-foot travel lanes, and a parking lane (of variable width from 7 to 9 feet).

Alternative 1: Bradford St Provincetown road section
Alternative 1: Bradford St Provincetown road section

The sharrows would be placed in the center of each travel lane, and according to the notes on the plan, “share the road signage shall be provided as appropriate.”

Alternative 1: Sharrows in both directions
Alternative 1: Sharrows in both directions

Alternative 2

The second concept is closer to what the Bicycle Committee recommended at the 2016 Traffic Hearing. It retains the sidewalk, has two 10-foot travel lanes, and includes a 5-foot climbing lane. Oddly, the layout indicates a “2-foot offset” between the sidewalk and the southbound travel lane, which effectively makes the travel lane 12 feet wide. I’d rather see those two feet on adjacent to the bike lane and striped to create a buffered bike lane.

Alternative 2: Bradford St Provincetown road section
Alternative 2: Bradford St Provincetown road section

Sharrows would be painted in the center of the southbound lane and again the engineers are suggesting more “share the road” signage.

Alternative 2: Sharrows downhill, climbing lane uphill
Alternative 2: Sharrows downhill, climbing lane uphill

Alternative 3

The third alternative at first glance seems strange, but the engineer’s notes clarify what they are intending. This layout is for a seasonal bike lane that would revert to on-street motor vehicle parking in the winter. Here a 2-foot buffer is painted as “no parking” hatch marks along the southern side of the street. The engineer’s notes explain:

PLANS ARE INTENDED TO PROVIDE INTERIM BICYCLE IMPROVEMENTS DURING PEAK SUMMER MONTHS. EASTBOUND BRADFORD STREET SHOULDER WILL BE USED AS A BICYCLE LANE. DURING ALL OTHER TIMES, IT WILL BE USED FOR PARKING.

Alternative 3: Bradford St Provincetown road section
Alternative 3: Bradford St Provincetown road section

Again, sharrows get painted in the center of the downhill lane. But there are no bike lane pavement markings. There is more detail on signage:

BICYCLE LANE SIGNAGE AND SHARED ROAD SIGNAGE SHALL BE PROVIDED DURING THE RESPECTIVE SEASON. NO PARKING SIGNS SHALL BE INSTALLED DURING PERIODS WHEN A BICYCLE LANE IS PROVIDED ALONG EASTBOUND BRADFORD STREET.

Alternative 3: Sharrows downhill, seasonal climbing lane uphill marked with signs (parking allowed in winter)
Alternative 3: Sharrows downhill, seasonal climbing lane uphill marked with signs (parking allowed in winter)

Summary

While all three alternatives are pointing in the right direction, the Alternative 3 seasonal bike lane seems like the one that would be easiest to do as a pilot and have less permanent impacts on parking. I have been unable to find any examples of seasonal bike lanes elsewhere, so this creative solution may be  completely nonstandard but does a good job of addressing local concerns.

Putting up more signs goes against the Board of Selectmen’s policy to reduce sign clutter (they favor pavement markings), and there are very few sign posts on this stretch (Google streetview is old but still accurate) and the overhanging trees and shrubs will likely block any new signs.

The one major downside of this entire repaving project is the lack of improvements for people walking. The crosswalks will get re-striped, but there is no plan to provide any ADA compliance for the sidewalk. The curb cuts won’t be improved, and the incredibly narrow, un-level asphalt sidewalks that are interrupted by telephone poles remain as-is.

It will be interesting to see what pubic comment is like at the meeting. Hearings are usually poorly attended, and if they are attended they only seem to bring out people who are against anything new. Hopefully we’ll see some support from the selectmen to at least try something new on this stretch of roadway and make a small step toward improving safety on Bradford Street.


Resources

Bradford Street Climbing Lanes Poll

This spring, the Provincetown Department of Public Works is planning to repave a stretch of Bradford Street from Central Street, past Shank Painter Road, and up the hill to Carver Street.

We’re asking that the roadway configuration be re-evaluated to provide some improvements for people on bikes.

Below is a quick one-question poll on possible configurations. Which would you like to see?

Public Hearing: Monday, January 8, during the 6 PM Provincetown Board of Selectmen meeting in the Judge Welsh Room in Town Hall, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown. Download the Public Hearing Notice


Resources

Repair Stations Coming Soon

The repair stations are here!

The Bicycle Committee is working with the town’s Department of Public works to nail down the details for their installation.

They will be installed at the West End and Johnson Street parking lots adjacent to the parking pay kiosks.

These are Dero Fixit Stations that the town purchased through the Cape Cod Commission’s Bike Rack Grant Program. We also picked up a pair of Air Kit 3 outdoor air pumps that will be installed alongside the repair stations.

These new public repair stations will be available year-round, unlike the five bike shops that open in the spring and shutter in the fall. They will also provide a platform for teaching people simple bike repair tasks.

Unfortunately, the cold weather and holiday schedules make it look like installation won’t take place until sometime in early 2018.

While you’re waiting for these to come online, take a look at Dero’s map of repair stations – they are all over the world!

Dero Fixit Map

Dero Fixit Map

Does this feel safe?

The number one reason people don’t ride their bikes is that they just don’t feel safe. In the photo above, created with the Cycling Embassy of Greater Britain’s Insert Loved One Here image creator highlights the failure in road design that keeps people in their cars and off their bikes.

To cross this intersection of Conwell Street and Route 6, the signs tell you to cross to the left side of the road. Then you have to cross an unsignalized slip lane get off your bike and walk 10 feet to press a beg button to get a light to cross this four lane, 50 M.P.H. highway.  You have to ride on the left hand side of the road against traffic on sand to get to the crossing. It’s not obvious how to get there and it certainly isn’t safe.

The town’s design to improve Conwell Street with bike lanes and a sidewalk doesn’t improve the intersection for people on bikes. It just merges them into motor vehicle traffic at the intersection and adds a new loop detector so that the lights will (hopefully) change for bikes.This intersection really wants to be a modern roundabout. For a great video showing a very safe roundabout in Europe, take a look at the video below (courtesy of A view from the cycle path). This is what we should aspire to:

Did you lock your bike?

In small towns, people seem to think it’s okay to leave their bikes unlocked. But like leaving your keys in your car or leaving your front door open, you do those things at your own peril. I used to leave my bike unlocked until the day I went to get it to ride home and it was gone. It showed up a few days later a few blocks away on another bike rack, but I was lucky. Stolen bikes usually disappear and are never found.

Did you lock your bike? sticker - Provincetown Bicycle Committee
“Did you lock your bike?” reminders on bike racks in Provincetown.

Bicycle theft is a crime of opportunity. The bike that’s unlocked is the one that will go missing. You don’t need the biggest, baddest bike lock to deter a thief. You probably don’t need two locks like urban bike folks recommend in places like New York where thieves have power tools to cut through just about anything.

Here are the most common types of locks used around here:

Cable lock. Cables come in all shapes and sizes, with varying lengths and thicknesses and either a combination or key lock. I use combination locks since I don’t like to carry yet another key with me. Long cables are better than short so you can pull it through both the wheel and the frame when locking to just about anything (even a tree or telephone pole, though that’s against local regulations).

cable locks - good
A cable lock through the front wheel and frame in Provincetown.

Chain lock. Chains are harder to cut than cables, but they’re heavy and expensive.

chain lock
A chain lock through a front wheel in Provincetown.

There are a few that are seen occasionally:

U-lock. These locks are common in urban areas, but they don’t work well on the schoolyard-style (wheelbender) bike racks that are everywhere. They’re fine when you’re locking up to a post on an inverted U rack or a street sign pole.

Frame lock. These are common on Dutch bicycles, so you see them on imported bicycles like Gazelles, Workcycles, or cargo bikes that are European-made. They’re not very secure, but they meet the basic deterrent requirements since you can’t turn the wheel when the lock is engaged. I like these since the lock itself can’t be stolen and you can’t leave home without it since it’s attached to the bike. A chain or cable lock can be added to lots of these to make them more secure.

Frame Lock
A frame lock secures through the rear wheel with a metal bar to keep the bike from moving.

Regardless of the type of lock, it’s important to actually attach the bike securely to the bike rack. It’s important to lock through the frame and through a wheel to deter theft. Here’s an example of a cable lock that could easily be removed:

cable locks - bad
This cable lock could be easily removed from the handlebars without cutting the lock.

All you need to do is slide the cable off the handlebars to steal this bike!

As John Waters has said, “Two things get stolen in Provincetown — boyfriends and bicycles.” He has lots of experience with both, so I’d heed his warning and encourage everyone to lock their bikes.

 

Analyzing bike crashes

A recent story on WCAI radio claimed that there were over 65 bicycle crashes in town this year through September and that there has been a 25 percent increase in crashes over the past five years. The Bicycle Committee requests crash data from the Provincetown Police Department on a calendar year basis, so we can’t yet verify this. I’ve reached out to the committee’s police liaison to find out what numbers were provided to the reporter.

Here’s the data we do have:bicycle-committee-crashes-2013-2015-001

If the 65 crash number for 2016 is accurate, that’s a whopping 88 percent increase from last year.

Continue reading Analyzing bike crashes

Traffic Hearing Results

Every fall the Provincetown Board of Selectmen hold their annual traffic hearing where town residents, town boards, selectmen and town staff can submit requests for changes within a town road right-of-way.

This year’s hearing on October 25 had the usual requests for signs and crosswalks as well as a number of bike-related items.

Here’s how the bike requests fared:

The Provincetown 365 request for bike racks was partly approved, with the selectmen agreeing to swap out three parking spaces at the Johnson Street lot for bike racks. They also approved a rack for the Gosnold Street landing near the Julie Heller Gallery and provisionally approved a rack in front of the Police Station on Shank Painter Rd. pending the police chief’s review. The approved bike racks will provide year-round parking for over 40 bicycles.

The Bicycle Committee request to add a fine to the parking regulations for “Obstructing a marked bicycle lane” was approved, with the fine set at $100. There was surprisingly little discussion about this.

The Bicycle Committee request for clarifying signage for the 2-way bike travel on Commercial Street got mired in discussions of prior efforts to put sharrows on the street and in the end the entire proposal was voted down. This was despite staff support for adding “except bicycles” to the “Do not enter” signs and two “no turn” signs along the street. The general attitude seems to be that any sign is unwelcome despite the vast sign clutter that already exists. I was specifically asked if there were signs that could be removed, and indeed I do have a list of outdated, confusing, or plainly unnecessary signs that I will bring back to a future selectmen meeting.

The Bicycle Committee request for climbing lanes on the section of Bradford Street from Franklin Street to Prince Street was tabled. Department of Public Works director Richard Waldo said earlier in the meeting that this section of road will be repaved and the sidewalk repaired in 2017, so there will be an opportunity to consider a new layout as that project moves forward. I asked specifically for guidance from the selectmen on removing parking to make the street safer and was asked to locate alternate parking spaces for those vehicles. The Committee attempted a similar project back in 2012 and had support from over 300 people on a petition, but it never went anywhere.

Finally, a citizen request to restripe the section of Bradford Street Extension where it meets Province Lands Road was supported by the selectmen. There are signs at this location that say “Private Parking” even though the cars are parking in the town right-of-way. The selectmen voted to remove the parking and define the wide bike and pedestrian shoulder with paint.

bradford-st-ext-%22private-parking%22
These cars are parking in the public way on Bradford Street Extension, but the signs say “Private Parking”. Google Maps Streetview, 2011

The next annual traffic hearing will take place in the fall of 2017.

Links:

Provincetown embraces bicycle culture, Provincetown Banner, October 31, 2016.
2016 Annual Traffic Hearing Results, Town of Provincetown web site.

Super busy summer!

There’s been lots happening this summer here in town bikewise.

New pavement markings

In June, the new bike lanes and sharrows were painted on Shank Painter Road, and the new sharrows went in on a short, narrow segment of Conwell Street. Other than the occasional complaint of delivery vehicles parking in the newly-marked lanes and some people who continue to bike in the wrong direction, response has been overwhelmingly positive.

shank painter bike lane conwell street sharrow

New bike racks

In August, racks for 60 bicycles were installed at Court Street and Pearl Street landings. They were immediately filled with bicycles, and my brief chats with folks who were using them were positive. The racks installed are Saris corral racks, which are five inverted-Us mounted to channels. They’re also angled on the channel at 30 degrees, so they take up a little less space than regular perpendicular racks.

2016-bike-racks-phase-2-008Each rack can hold up to 10 bicycles, but the demand for bike parking at Court Street landing had over 60 bikes attached to its four new racks. Previously people locked their bikes here to a railing along the wall, and no more than 25 bikes could fit in that configuration. Concerns about motor vehicles being able to squeeze through past the racks were unfounded, and residents who live on the landing had positive things to say.

The two new racks at Pearl Street Landing were well utilized, though their off-the-beaten-path location meant they were not as heavily used as the Court St. racks.

2016-bike-racks-phase-2-009Along with the new racks, a series of new bike parking signs were installed along Commercial Street to help direct people to the bike parking areas with the most capacity.

These racks were funded by the Bicycle Committee and the Finance Committee and assembled and installed by the Department of Public Works.

We purposely did not mount them to the asphalt so that the Department of Public Works will be able to remove them if need be for snow plowing operations over the winter.

Planning for the bike racks was done by volunteers with Provincetown 365, and that group has a long-term plan that would install up to another 300 bike spaces around town in the next two years.

Education & Outreach

The Bicycle Committee redesigned its bike map & safety guide brochure, and 25,000 copies were printed for the summer season. It includes new cover art, a new map, and updated safety info. They’re available at the bike shops and all over town. The fantastic new cover art Brandon Michael will be used throughout future campaigns.

A series of educational stickers were deployed on all of the town bike racks, with three messages: Did you lock your bike?, Bike Racks Map with a QR code and URL to the online map, and a Public Bike Rack logo to identify the town racks. The stickers faded and scraped off over the course of the summer, so we’re experimenting with a transparent UV film to cover the stickers to see if that will extend their life.

Sharrow educational postcardProvincetown 365 designed a sharrow education poster to let people know that sharrows were coming and distributed over 2,000 sharrow postcards around town. The cards were printed thanks to the financial assistance of the Tourism Office and the Planning Department.

The Bicycle Committee tabled at Firehouse #3 several times during the season and gave out over 100 bike lights, reflective straps, and other swag to anyone who completed the bike safety quiz. The new committee tablecloth made its debut and some extra bike parking signs on hand to show off.

There’s lots of planning work coming up this fall, with the anticipated release of the Outer Cape Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, the Fall Traffic Hearing with requests for more bike racks, bike repair stations, and more.

Bike Month Happenings

Bike month is here and there’s a lot going on around town! May is officially National Bike Month, and has been since 1956. Here’s what we’re up to in Provincetown…

Bike Parking Signs

Bike Parking Sign - Provincetown
Bike Parking Sign – Provincetown

New bike parking signs are now up along Commercial St. to direct riders to the bike racks at the following locations:

  • Joe Coffee (170 Commercial St.)
  • Ryder St Ext
  • Lopes Square & MacMillan Pier
  • Tourism Office (330 Commercial St.).

The Provincetown Department of Public Works developed these sign designs in collaboration with Provincetown 365 and the Bicycle Committee. We looked at signs from Europe, signs from US cities (which are very few), and the MUTCD standard design and made a recommendation for something that would be graphically identifiable and used as little text as possible. DPW came up with this design as something that could be produced in-house at a low cost. It works well with the existing (also green) Bike Route and 2-Way Bike Traffic signs that are already installed around town.

The signs come in two versions – a long one that goes on the top of a street sign pole and a tall version for regular sign poles. The sign installations are double-sided so that people on bikes can see them when riding either way on Commercial Street.

Getting support from elected officials and town staff for little efforts like this really shows how bike-friendly town is.

Bike Parking Sign - Provincetown
Bike Parking Sign – Provincetown

New Bike RacksCourt St. Landing concept

New bike racks that will hold 60 bikes will get installed this month. Bike parking signs will be put up on Commercial St. to indicate the locations of these new racks. They will be installed near the beach behind Wired Puppy at Pearl St. Landing and adjacent to the firehouse restrooms at Court St. Landing.

Additional racks from the Department of Public Works inventory are being redeployed around town, so it looks like we’ll have over 100 new bike parking spaces available this summer.

Bike Lane Ribbon Cutting

During Bay State Bike Week (May 14-21), town will be celebrating the new bike lanes and sharrows on Shank Painter Rd. with a ribbon cutting and short bike ride. Rain is delaying the painting crew from getting out to do this, so keep an eye out for an update on when this will take place.

To go along with the new bike lanes and sharrows, an education campaign is being put together by Provincetown 365 to let people know what these new pavement markings mean. Keep an eye out for flyers, posters, and rack cards.

Children’s Bicycle Rodeo

Children's Bicycle Rodeo - Provincetown
Children’s Bicycle Rodeo – Provincetown
The Children’s Bicycle Rodeo is being organized by Cape Cod Children’s Place in partnership with the Provincetown Police Department. There will be an obstacle course, tune-up stations, and safety drills. Children are asked to bring their bike, a helmet, and an adult. Fun for the family and community! It will take place at the Veterans Memorial Community Center (the old elementary school) of off Winslow St.  For more information, contact Anna Swaby at 508-240-3310.

Updated Bicycle Map & Safety Guide

The Bicycle Committee is in the process of redesigning its bicycle brochure with new art by a local artist, a new map, more information on taking your bike on the buses and ferries, and updated bike safety guidelines.

Here’s a preview of the new map…

Provincetown Bicycle Map
The new Provincetown Bicycle Map for 2016

Twenty-five thousand copies of this brochure are printed every year and distributed for free around town. You can pick one up at the Chamber of Commerce, Town Hall, the Tourism Office, the bike shops, coffee shops, or inns. There are a handful of last year’s version still available at Town Hall, but when they’re gone, they’ll be a collector’s item.

Bike Education Days

The first Bike Education Day of the summer will kick off over Memorial Day weekend at Firehouse #3 next to Town Hall. Bicycle Committee members will be on hand with the bike safety quiz, bike brochures, and free giveaways. Stop by and say hello on Saturday, May 28 starting at 4 PM.

A New Bike Shop

Mike Riley is opening a new bike shop this month at 136 Bradford Street in the center of town. Provincetown Bike Rentals will be renting Jamis bikes. This will be the fifth bike shop in town, so it’s pretty clear that there’s a big demand for bike rentals in the summer.

That’s it for May, and the season doesn’t get in full swing until mid-June. The Bicycle Committee is back to meeting twice a month for the summer. Check out the Bike Provincetown page on Facebook for more up-to-date information on those meetings, WorldFest in June, and the many charity rides that take place in town. See you out on your bike!

Bike lane & sharrows approved for Shank Painter Road

At the spring Traffic Hearing on Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen approved the proposal by Provincetown 365 to stripe a bike lane and paint sharrows on Shank Painter Road. This will be the first marked bike lane to be installed by the town.

Proposed bike markings on Shank Painter Road
Proposed bike markings on Shank Painter Road

Town staff recommended the proposal with some changes to the size and placement of the sharrows, citing the narrow road width and speed of traffic on the road as factors. Both the town Bicycle Committee and the Cape Cod Commission were in favor of the proposal.

A bike lane will be painted southbound from Route 6 to Province Road, sharrows will continue southbound to the second Stop & Shop entrance, and then the bike lane will continue to Bradford St. Sharrows will be painted along the entire road northbound from Bradford St. since the existing pavement, while wide in some places, is broken and unsafe for riding.

No budget was identified to pay for this improvement, so that puts into question when it will actually be executed. The selectmen didn’t specify a timeline for the project, either, but in the past the changes approved at the spring traffic hearings tend to get implemented before the summer tourist season begins.

You can watch the entire traffic hearing (including the Cape Cod Commission’s presentation of its Parking & Circulation Study) here on Provincetown Community Television:

The selectmen also approved sharrows in both directions on Conwell St. from Bradford St. to Cemetery Rd. where the planned bike lanes will continue to Route 6. They also directed the DPW staff to request permission from MassDOT to paint sharrows on the section of the road that is controlled by the state.

You can read about all of the other traffic hearing requests in the summary of the hearing’s results on the town web site.

Resources
Traffic Hearing Results, Town of Provincetown
Traffic Hearing Agenda and Meeting Packet, Town of Provincetown
Shank Painter Road Bike Markings flyer, Provincetown 365