Colorado Public Works Journal, Spring-Summer 2020

BIKING IN BOULDER 6 Colorado Public Works Journal by Robert Davies The City of Boulder is preparing for its future by building a first-of-its-kind project to accommodate the city’s multimodal travelers. With more than 300 miles of bikeway, including 96 miles of bike lanes, 84 miles of multi-use paths, and 50 miles of designated bike routes, it’s easy to see why Boulder is rated one of the most bikeable cities in the US. Couple this with an average of 300 days of sunshine per year and one begins to see a multimodal paradise. But, there is one glaring characteristic missing from the picture— safe streets for cyclists. In the last decade, Boulder logged an average of 2,800 vehicular crashes, 52 of which caused death or serious injury, according to the city’s 2019 Safe Streets Report. Between 2015 and 2017 alone, nearly 9,000 crashes occurred in The Valley. Crashes involving cy- clists accounted for 39 percent of severe crashes, more than crashes involving walking pedestrians and the travelling impaired combined. The Federal Highway Administration estimates the total societal cost of these crashes to be over $300 million. In the end, any crash is one too many. This philosophy inspired the city’s Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) to begin discussing plans The North Broadway Reconstruction Project in order to enhance safety and comfort for multimodal travel in the area. “We approached the project from a programmatic angle,” Tila Duhaime, a member of TAB, told the Colorado Public Works Journal in an interview. “Our main focus was how we make the project func- tion for the community as a whole, and for all types of transportation, not just for vehicles.” Duhaime described TAB’s role in the project as a mediator be- tween the city’s goals and the public voice. Originally, Boulder relied heavily on the 2013 North Broadway Subcommunity Plan during the project’s planning phase. But, as Duhaime admits, the people who wrote the plan no longer live in the area and residents were not con- sulted during its drafting. So, TAB advised city council and the plan- ners on how to make the project feasible for the current neighborhood. “Early on, features like the multiuse path on the west side of Broadway were not considered. But, TAB felt that changing how the street looks is invaluable to communicating that the area is becom- ing more multiuse friendly,” Duhaime said. North Broadway is considered a high traffic area from the intersec- tion at 27th Highway up to the intersection at US36. The city identi- fied 32 crash sites along North Broadway, including four high-crash areas at the intersections of Canyon Blvd., University Ave., Baseline Rd., and Table Mesa Dr. The area where severe crashes are most common is just south of Balsam Ave. in the Colony Shopping Center district. “This area is a former industrial center where people have traveled in one way for years, but are now adjusting to the increase of resi- dents. Right now, there is a different mix of people than there was 20 years ago. So, we needed this project to anticipate the growth of other modes of transportation in the area,” Duhaime said. Planning Planning for the project began in 2016 when the city’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) fell below the acceptable level of 75 for the first time in five years. Currently, over 66 percent of Boulder’s streets have a PCI of 75 or greater, but sections of Broadway from Poplar Ave. to Lee Hill Dr. are currently rated between poor and fair. In 2015, the city applied for grant funding from the Denver Re- gional Council of Governments (DRCOG) for a highway pavement re- construction project. Boulder was eventually awarded $6.2 million in federal funding from the 2016-2021 Transportation Improvements Program (TIP) to repave North Broadway, but found that other multi- modal improvements were necessary for the neighborhood. “The project originally started as an idea to put up buffered bike lanes along Broadway, but it’s grown immensely,” Kyle Dorrenbacher, Transportation Engineer for RS&H, an architecture and engineering Image credits: Boulder