Stillwater City Council has approved a final conceptual design for the proposed Husband Street bike corridor, but will consider options for traffic signals at key intersections at a later meeting.
Balancing the needs of motorists and the safety of cyclists at busy intersections is an ongoing concern as the City seeks to get people to use non-motorized transportation across the city.
The Husband Street Corridor is a key part of this.
City of Stillwater Engineering Manager Monty Karns said the Husband Street Corridor is the first step in creating a network within the city’s larger transportation network that moves bikes and pedestrians north and south, then becomes the backbone of a system moving them east and west.
“The point here is that we’re actually going to have an impact on traffic to make this corridor safer for bikes and so we have to go ahead and say, ‘Yes, it will have an impact on people driving cars. in this area,” Mayor Will Joyce said.
Admittedly, the goal is to have fewer people driving on Husband Street along this corridor, he said.
Karns agreed, saying he would like people to get to Main and Duck streets as soon as possible instead.
The hallway idea was first approved in October 2018.
It is envisioned as a low-stress bicycle corridor that reduces the risk of accidents by prioritizing bicycle travel. The approach is designed to appeal to a wider population that includes people of all ages and abilities by making them confident and comfortable as cyclists and pedestrians, according to presentation by Olsson company engineer Russell Beatty and Associates based in Oklahoma City.
Karns said the project was put on hold as COVID-19 spread to give city staff a chance to assess the pandemic’s impact on the city budget. Once staff determined they could move forward, a previously assembled Citizens Task Force to work with the design firm was called back, along with other interested community parties.
The corridor is intended to create an active transportation route running north from Seventh Avenue along Husband Street that leads to the Kameoka Trail on the north side of Boomer Road, according to the staff report.
Karns asked councilors to pay particular attention to several elements of the presentation, including methods of crossing several major streets and a possible alternate route along Husband Street between McElroy and Boomer roads.
“We have concerns about the amount of traffic between McElroy and Boomer Road. We would like to transfer that to Duncan,” he said. “That would require us to cross the church property there. They support the project and we would work with them to do the layout and get an easement from them.
Beatty explained that a low-stress bike lane provides a route where people and their children feel safe when cooking or walking around the area. The proposed corridor would extend from just south of Stillwater High School to downtown just south of Sixth Ave.
Street parking would be discouraged and the number of people using the area could increase as cycling and walking were encouraged.
This could be achieved by making changes to Husband Street, such as diverting through traffic away from the corridor and reworking intersections. Speed limits would be lowered.
A bridge could be replaced and stop signs could be added in some places or removed in others. Pavement marking could be used to accomplish much of this, but neighborhood roundabouts on Third Avenue and Miller Street were another option considered.
Prominent pavement markings at intersections and roundabouts would make drivers aware that something is different as they travel through the area, Beatty said. Traffic diverters, concrete bumps that block a lane were not included in the plan, based on public feedback.
Toucan signals, named because there are two groups – cyclists and pedestrians – who can use them to cross the street safely, are another option included in the plan.
Other intersections may have rapidly flashing rectangular beacons with signal arms that extend across the traffic lanes. The beacons are designed to act as warning lights to remind drivers that pedestrians are crossing there, Beatty said.
A similar design was used for a time at the street intersection on Hall of Fame Avenue near Oklahoma State University’s Colvin Center, but it was not successful. Karns said it was because drivers didn’t understand what flashing red lights meant.
At the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Husband Street, prominent “sharrow” markings – similar to the Duck Street markings south of Sixth Avenue – indicating that the lane should be shared by bicycles and cars, would be used.
Pavement markings to increase driver awareness would continue north from this intersection and stop signs would be added to Fourth and Fifth Avenues.
A roundabout would be built at Third Avenue.
A median in Maple would prevent cars from turning left south on Husband Street as part of the strategy to discourage through traffic.
Stop signs would be added on Elm Street and another roundabout would be built on Miller Avenue.
Toucan signals and RRFBs were presented as options for the Hall of Fame intersection, but Vice Mayor Alane Zannotti interrupted the presentation to ask specific questions about the options, saying she had heard concerns regarding safety.
Some stakeholders had expressed concern over Husband’s loss of the ability to turn left to Hall of Fame, Beatty said. But there were also concerns about the ability of cyclists to cross the street safely. The discussion that surrounded it led to the inclusion of two options in the proposal.
Continuing north, the bridge over West Boomer Creek would be replaced by a bridge built not for cars, but only for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
“Any movement through it would be restricted…” he said. “This, again, would help reduce stress by creating this corridor so that you cannot drive north to south or south to north straight ahead like we do now. So this is another place that would help remove some of the traffic from Husband without removing the traffic from it. »
The cars would not end up in a dead end, Beatty assured Mayor Will Joyce when he asked where the cars would go. They could use the roads north and south of the bridge to connect to alternate routes, Beatty said.
He said another high-traffic intersection on McElroy Road also generated a lot of conversation. The heavy trucks turning there mean that the optionally included Toucan signal might not be as suitable due to conflicts with trucks serving businesses at the intersection.
Zannotti asked if it would make sense to have consistent signal types at busy intersections.
The McElroy intersection is notorious for accidents and has high traffic due to the number of businesses along Husband Street between McElroy and Boomer roads. This led to the suggestion of a bypass to Duncan Street, Beatty said. The bypass would require routing bicycle traffic through a church parking lot.
Again, depending on traffic, a crosswalk would be the best option for getting bikes across Boomer Road, he said, noting that there are already plenty of pedestrians from Stillwater High School crossing the road there.
Addressing the different approaches, Karns said everything the city does needs to be consistent.
He became more positive about the RRFB option for intersections after seeing how they were used in Dallas, which mounts them on traffic poles and makes them consistent. They’re also likely cheaper to install and maintain than Toucan signals, making them a staff preference.
“I can imagine that being a standard for us,” he said.
Discussion of specific signage options, particularly the Hall of Fame Road intersection, will be brought back to City Council later.