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

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.