Even though it has “urban” in its title, and Delaware is a very automobile oriented suburban and rural state, with some creativity Delaware can still take some great ideas from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide.
Buffered Bike Lanes
The NACTO Guide states that appropriate application for buffered bike lanes would be on streets with high speeds, high volumes, large volumes of truck traffic, or on streets with extra lane width or extra lanes. While cycling on many of Delaware’s roads (especially in New Castle County) one will encounter almost all of these conditions. Could buffered bike lanes help increase cyclist comfort or safety or perhaps make motorists more aware of cyclists on major arterial roads where 10+ foot wide shoulders already exist?
Delaware Avenue in Newark, DE runs directly through the heart of the University of Delaware’s campus in downtown Newark. This road provides an eastbound connection through Newark with two wide motor vehicle lanes (approx 11.5+ ft each) and one wide bike lane (approx 7ft). The only problem is that there is no dedicated bike lane to provide a westbound connection through Newark. Main Street is a westbound roadway located one block to the north but currently has no bicycle facilities in place. Main Street is also the main commercial corridor with parking on each side of the street and high vehicle volumes that can make novice cyclists uncomfortable. Many cyclists currently use Delaware Avenue for two way travel due to the wide bike lane and lack of westbound bicycle facilities.
Delaware Avenue, Newark, DE vs. 15th St NW, Washington, DC
The NACTO Design Guide says that typical applications for two-way cycle tracks are on one-way streets where contra-flow bicycle travel is desired, along streets with high motor vehicle volumes and/or high speeds, on streets with extra ROW, and on streets with few intersection and driveway conflicts. Delaware Avenue fits most of these criteria, with the exception of a slightly higher amount of driveway conflicts. Could Newark ever see the day when Delaware Avenue gets a two-way cycle track?
Two-Stage Turn Queues
A large amount of Delaware cycling routes take cyclists along four lane arterial roadways with one or two lane left turning bays, creating a very wide and difficult cross section to navigate if a cyclist wishes to turn left. Instead of having to cross two through lanes of traffic and position themselves in several hundred foot long left turning lanes that can be up to two lanes wide, could Delaware consider implementing a two-stage turning queue? Design markings that encourage cyclists t ride through the intersection and wait at the far pedestrian refuge island or painted right turn channelization island could be used. The cyclist would then cross when the intersecting street traffic signal green phase is active.
Two-stage Turn Queue (NACTO) vs. Potential Application in DE?
Combined Bike Lane/Turn Lane
This is a topic that is a major priority for Bike Delaware at the moment. NACTO recommends using a combined bike lane/turn lane in instances where there is a right turn lane but not enough space to maintain a standard width bike lane. This scenario happens all over Delaware, wide shoulders which abruptly end into a high-speed right-turn only lane. These design could be soon tested in Delaware thanks to the hard work of Bike Delaware advocates.
Combined Bike Lane/Turn Lane (NACTO)
Shared Lane Markings
“Sharrows” made their first debut in the state of Delaware in Wilmington last year. After being approved by DelDOT, a new tool has been added to aid in accommodating bicyclists in roadway design. Although sharrows are only recommended for low-speed roads (<35 mph), there are many areas around the state where they could come in handy. Main Street Newark is a perfect candidate for sharrows, the only question now is when will they finally be installed?
Main Street, Newark, DE (source)
Sharrow Rendering (NACTO)
If you would like to explore the rest of the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide it is available online at the NACTO website.
Using the NACTO website, I took all of the design treatments presented and prepared a PowerPoint slide show for the University of Delaware: