KFnet in T-Town

Sep. 24, 2010 at 2:08pm

Bike Lanes Painted Down 30th Street Hill

Hooray! The 30th Street bike lanes now extend all the way down the hill not just on top of it. Thanks City of Tacoma for helping make our city a more bike friendly place. I ride this route to work and just having the lines there will help educate drivers and parkers alike to keep their eyes out for cyclists coming or going.

July 27, 2009 - New Bike Lanes on 21st Street
Sept. 28, 2009 - 30th Street Up Next for Bike Lanes

comments [35]  |  posted under bike lanes, cycling, mobility, tacoma


by L.S.Erhardt on 9/24/2010 @ 2:48pm
I'd try to go up it (and likely fail) like I do on McCarver.

But going down? Think I'll inspect my bike's brakes first. That hill does look scary when you're on top looking down.

Think about it: if you knew with 100% certainty that you'd make the light at the bottom, you could probably roll onto Schuster doing 40 or 50. Keep up with traffic... impressive.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/24/2010 @ 2:57pm
You only live once, why worry about certainty. Just count your hippopotamuses at the top of the hill and time the light. There is always time to bail out if you chicken out.

by narndt on 9/24/2010 @ 3:05pm
NOT hooray! This puts cyclists right in the 'wheel house' of car doors. With the speed generated by this steep of a slope, cyclists should be taking the entire lane.

A bike lane is not the proper treatment for this scenario. Sharrows would have been the correct choice.

Thorax--You're right. Folks can and do go 40mph on a bike down 30th. I've done it. It's hard not to! But when I do go down 30th I always ride right down the middle of the lane. That's really the only safe way to do it. It's 100% legal.

This is extremely, extremely, sketchy.

Someone could definitely roll onto Schuster doing 40...their bike just might be back at the Tully's.

by Erik on 9/24/2010 @ 3:08pm
Good news. The parking and bike lanes on both sides of the road narrow the road (even if just painted) which generally leads to slower traffic.

by thriceallamerican on 9/24/2010 @ 3:17pm
I always bike 29th instead when I'm in the area. Much less traffic.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/24/2010 @ 3:27pm
Now I want to buy a Speedometer and see just how fast I can go down 30th. Curios to see just what the Schwinn can do in 18th gear.

I know from experience that I can top 30 going down McCarver (paced someone I know in a car down that hill).

by mike.hahn on 9/24/2010 @ 3:28pm
Agree with narndt. This "improvement" is dangerous (on the downhill side). Solid-striped bike lanes are often worse than no bike lane at all. They reinforce the notion that cyclists belong "over there" (regardless of speed, weather, or hazards). We are, in fact, entitled to the full lane... and sometimes the center is the safest place to be.

I began lobbying the city for sharrows here almost a year ago, and was assured they would be considered. I raised my concerns again yesterday, and received a call back from engineer Josh Diekmann. He said the installation was a contractor error, and corrective action will be taken soon. He assured me that ultimately sharrows will be installed, as they were supposed to have been from the beginning.

I fully expect unnecessary conflicts with motorists because of the new paint, but I'm taking the full lane down 30th as I always have.

by Nick on 9/24/2010 @ 3:39pm
Great! Now how about laying some decent reflectors at a reasonable interval so I can actually see the road in the rain at night?

But seriously, what is it with road reflectors in WA? When they're not completely missing, they seem to be the tiniest, most un-reflective little things I've ever seen.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/24/2010 @ 3:56pm
Tiny & missing reflectors: Budget.

Gotta keep those funds available for the generous pensions in the local/state governments.

by narndt on 9/24/2010 @ 4:03pm

Did they give you any time frame? I'm guessing they're going to be tempted to drag their feet on this. Getting rid of solid white lines w/o re-paving results in ugly, ugly streets.

If you've seen Spanaway Loop Rd, you know what I mean. The county burnt away the solid white shoulder stripes, got rid of the center turn lane, and added a southbound lane. That was several years ago, I believe. It's still extremely unattractive.

This could be a little bit of an eyesore for 30th ST and Old Town, and I know folks aren't going to be happy about it.

by mike.hahn on 9/24/2010 @ 4:16pm
@narndt He said "corrective action" soon, sharrows in the spring. I agree, though... feet will be dragged.

by KevinFreitas on 9/24/2010 @ 7:22pm
I totally get the concerns but I ride down this hill without a problem. I'm totally riding on my breaks to keep it to 25 or 30 MPH the entire time but, for me, I prefer staying in the bike lane where possible rather than moving in and out of it. I've tried it both ways on 30th and sticking to the side, though more dangerous for opening parked car doors, I keep my eyes peeled wide for any possible threats. Plus, to be honest, most of the time the cars are backed up half way up the hill so a benefit of the dedicated bike lane is I'm rewarded by being able to pass 'em all by.

I looked up "sharrows" and I'm not a fan. Far too ambiguous for most drivers that won't notice them at all. The dedicated lanes are strong, clear indicators to operators of moving and parked cars alike to be mindful of whose in this lane. Bikes.

by tacoma1 on 9/25/2010 @ 7:53am
Personally, I like the bike lanes alot. I noticed them right away when they went in. They seem do be multi functional to me.

1) They do provide a safer designated space for bicycles that (with the exception of down 30th st) move slower than the car traffic.

2) They narrow the lanes visually, which help slow traffic.

3) They make it apparent to most drivers (certainly not all) that 30th street isn't a four lane road, That just because someone in the car in front of you has stopped to turn left, you shouldn't whip around them into the bike lane to save 30 seconds on your trip.

Ultimately, if our city wants to make Old Town more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, they should put Schuster Speedway on a major road diet with wide bike lanes, separate sidewalks, and only one lane of car traffic each direction. There is no advantage (timewise) to speed along Schuster at 50 mph, just to wait through 2 stop light cycles once you get to the stop light in Old Town. 30 mph, and a short or no wait in Old Town would be just as fast.

by KevinFreitas on 9/25/2010 @ 8:11am
Thx @tacoma1 -- my thoughts exactly. I agree on the Schuster Speedway front too. As an alternate to sharrows, rather than just be down on them, I'd suggest going a step further toward something like these: blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2009/08/on... They make for a great separation of traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists.

by KevinFreitas on 9/25/2010 @ 4:12pm
OK, are we in the Twilight Zone or something? The 30th Street hill as of yesterday, Friday, September 24th:

And, shockingly, the next day Saturday, September 25th:

Completely f'ing painted over?!?! Not sure I understand what's going on here. Anyone at the City care to explain? Even if this was an accidental painting could we not have a discussion about just leaving them? Seems the photos above showed plenty of room for parked cars, bike lanes, and moving automobiles. Seems since they worked just fine that this has turned into nothing but a waste of money and will not just be black paint but also just one more black eye people can point out here in Tacoma.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/25/2010 @ 4:57pm
fredo, do you want to take this one?

by mike.hahn on 9/25/2010 @ 4:59pm
Read up the thread and you'll see what I was told by the city. The bike lane all the way down the hill was a contractor error. I realize it was pretty, but a solid-striped lane was not the right solution here. You simply cannot rubber-stamp bike lanes all over the city and call it "infrastructure". Some consideration must be given to the real-world situations cyclists will encounter in a given location. Anyone who relies on velotransit daily knows this. I cannot speak to what happened on the uphill side. I liked the solid-striped lane there!

by KevinFreitas on 9/25/2010 @ 6:22pm
@mike -- I read the "error" above as to the make-up of the bike presence as being lines versus sharrows but that the latter solution wasn't yet decided upon.

I ride this route to work and absolutely prefer to be in a separate, dedicated lane from traffic -- especially to avoid moving from a bike lane into the traffic lane and back again. At any rate, someone wasted money, got my hopes up for a more complete bike system, and very clear markings that go well beyond sharrows.

How 'bout this -- let's just remove a lane of parking and put back the real bike lanes. All in favor? ;)

by mike.hahn on 9/25/2010 @ 7:58pm

Aye! This is largely about personal preference, you're right. Personally, I will not be forced to the right while motorists throw open their doors, bound for the morning Tulley's. I rode 30th every day for 8 months and had more "get off the road" encounters than I care to recall.

Timely anecdote: My father-in-law is visiting from Montana right now. As we drove along Union today, at UPS, a cyclist (who was easily doing 25mph) was choosing to ride just outside the bike lane. Clearly the prudent place to be. An open door at that speed is bad news. A trip to the hospital at best. My father-in-law's comment? "Why isn't that guy in the bike lane?"

This is not a sharrow vs. bike lane conversation. I love bike lanes (where they're the best solution)! It's a call for bicycle infrastructure that accounts for SHARED ROADS. We're saying the same thing, I'm pretty sure :)

by KevinFreitas on 9/25/2010 @ 8:19pm
Absolutely. Thanks for your comments -- I love having conversation surrounding something that can only help make Tacoma a better place to live.

One other note is that the opening door reason for removing these lanes is suspect only because the space for parked cars and their doors is no greater for the accepted lanes on 30th just at the top of the hill as it was down the hill. This was just a cock-up of planning and communication that someone is just trying to deflect blame elsewhere.

My dream for this area of bike lanes: connect things up nicely along 30th from Stevens and down to McCarver and add lanes there to connect up with those on Tacoma Ave. But we could talk bike routes all day... for another discussion thread perhaps. :)

by tacoma1 on 9/26/2010 @ 9:58am
Interesting developments here. The more I think about it, bike sharrows on the downhill side of 30th make alot of sense. All it would take is for someone to open a car door while a cyclist is coming down hill at 30 to 40 mph for a tragedy to occur. Allthough the person parking would lose their car door, the cycist would likely lose their life. It takes a long time for a bicycle to stop at those speeds, and with the volume of traffic on 30th, there would likely be no safe place to swerve out of the way.

I've noticed that very few residents park on that side of the street anyway. Most of the street parking seems to happen on the uphill traffic side. It's probably too steep to haul groceries up the slope for most people. Instead of mostly unused parking, if one side of 30th turned into a bike sharrow, landscape trees, and a nice wide sidewalk, I certainly wouldn't complain.

by fredo on 9/26/2010 @ 11:17am
Only a matter of time till we have a serious injury or fatality accident caused by a little old lady opening the car door. Claim against the city? Likely.

Rather than engaging in this questionable striping plan why doesn't the city begin reducing the cost of operating the city of tacoma? We need to stop spraying white paint on the streets and start applying some red pencil to the city budget.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/26/2010 @ 11:50am
I knew I could count on you, fredo.

by fredo on 9/26/2010 @ 12:18pm
My pleasure Crenshaw! Always happy to supply the fly to FeedTacoma's oinment.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/26/2010 @ 12:26pm
"We need to stop spraying white paint on the streets and start applying some red pencil to the city budget."

Should be the motto here on feedTacoma.

by tacoma1 on 9/26/2010 @ 1:26pm
If we fired 20 city workers, that would probably save enough tax dollars to pay for the attorney to defend the taxpayers from the wrongful death lawsuits that will be coming. Then when the exact $ amount of the settlements are determined, we could then fire another 20 (or 40, or 100) city workers to pay for the settlement. Seem like a plan to me, not a good plan, but definitely a plan.

by fredo on 9/26/2010 @ 1:40pm

"If we fired 20 city workers, that would probably save enough tax dollars to pay for the attorney to defend the taxpayers" tacoma1

It's the painting of the lines and the impression created that this is a safe place for people to ride their bicycles that gives rise to a cause of action against the city. If there was no painted bike lane then bicylcists would just ride in the lane of traffic like they're supposed to anyway.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/26/2010 @ 1:51pm
I think they can fire the entire economic development department of the city and no one would miss them one bit. Pretty much, if they fired everyone on the city payroll that made more than $50k a year we (with the exception of police and fire) probably wouldn't miss them at all.

by fredo on 9/26/2010 @ 1:56pm
crenshaw, you're sounding increasingly like a closeted conservative. this is pretty good stuff you're posting.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/26/2010 @ 2:26pm
I'm not all that conservative but I would like to see my tax dollars being productive. Our economic development department looks like it needs to be put on commission. The Municipal Building is crammed full of people drawing pretty good salaries. How many of these people are actually productive for the city? I might not end up reducing your taxes but I would make certain that the money is spent productively. A Sepulveda administration would bring prosperity to the city. Best example to date: giving JayRay $50k to set up a facebook and twitter for the parking. We could have gotten Angela Jossy for $100 bucks a day and I can assure you she would have done an incredible job for the city.

by dolly varden on 9/26/2010 @ 4:24pm
Why in the world would they erase the *uphill* lane?? I'm on sharrow side of the downhill argument, and in full agreement with shrinking Shuster for bikes and peds.

by fredo on 9/26/2010 @ 4:54pm
"Our economic development department looks like it needs to be put on commission" crenshaw

A bit off topic...but I'll bite. Why don't we just discontinue this department and turn efforts over JayRay? We know that they did a great job getting everyone in Tacoma completely informed and happy with the new parking arrangements.

Perhaps they could set up an ED initiative on Facebook. We could make friends with all the captains of industry around the US, even explain our "forward looking" parking kiosks and our new "ride the Link for a buck" initiative that is taking the NW by storm. Imagine all the development that could take place just by "friending" some commercial leaders?

by narndt on 9/27/2010 @ 8:35am

Well, I was totally wrong about the City dragging their feet on this, and I think Fredo has it exactly right. The downhill bike lane would give the "impression of safety," leaving the City vulnerable.

But what I think we've got here is ANOTHER contractor error! When the hash marks for potential bike lanes were put up last year, I contacted the City in support of uphill bike bike lane but against the downhill in favor of sharrows. I got pretty much the same response that @mike.hahn got.I think it's unanimous...uphill bike lane is approved by all!

But someone must have gotten on the horn with the contractor and said, "Davenport! What were you thinking on those bike lanes between Carr and Alder!?!!" "Oh, sorry boss, I'll take care of it right away."

Another messed up communication. Or, they just decided to take their ball and go home.

by narndt on 9/28/2010 @ 2:09pm
Another thought. I'm almost certain there isn't a single sharrow in Tacoma. Maybe what's holding this up is that Tacoma doesn't have the sharrow stencil!

Lakewood now has sharrows. Maybe we can borrow the one they use!

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/28/2010 @ 2:44pm
Or I can make one and sell it to the city for $49.95 plus $8.95 shipping and handling...

Regardless, I'm game for taming Schuster. Ever try to walk/run Bayside Trails? It's terrifying! Being six inches from cars zooming past at 50+ mph is something I'm not doing again.
I can't even imagine trying to bike that. I see people biking the shoulder on SR-509. That seems safer than Schuster, even though 509 has trucks, more traffic and a speed limit of 60.


Although I have another home on the web I thought it might be nice to lead by example a bit and put this blog system up to the test myself.

So far, so good... Funny how I build web tools for other people that are far better than the one's I have setup over on KFnet.


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