Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Traffic and Transportation Issues for Laveen

No, this post is not about the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway (but seriously, where's our freeway?). This is about other transportation issues that are merely tangentially related to the discussion of the SMF....

First, let's just get this out there: I was right about Interstate-11. The lobbying for this highway, specifically the Hassayampa Freeway portion, is strong enough that Governor Brewer mentioned it in her "state of the state" speech yesterday (interestingly advocating for a massive chunk of government spending as she said we were opposed to such a thing). In a world of limited resources, we need to be wary of competing projects that may derail our preferred transportation plans. This is why I ask that you consider attending the ADOT meeting later in January (Tuesday the 24th, at 4:00 PM) to speak on behalf of Phoenix and Laveen.

Now on to the minutia. Last night, at the LVPC meeting, we discussed many exciting topics (seriously, you should come to a meeting sometime), one of which was our lack of bike lanes -- or stated another way, the huge opportunity for new bike lanes in Laveen. As a part of this topic, we discussed the difference between arterial and collector streets, varying street widths (and the options for each), bike lanes versus bike paths (designated and undesignated), and so on. Most importantly, we realized that our guest from the city of Phoenix, Joe Perez (aka our one-man biking task force -- click here for his email address), had a lot on his plate and he really wants our help to make our community more bike friendly. I really encourage anyone with an interest in bicycling to reach out to Mr. Perez with recommendations for new routes. This is the epitome of low-hanging fruit for smart infrastructure growth. A few recommendations that I would like to throw out there:

  1. 51st - Beltline - Riggs - Baseline 20th Street - Dobbins (40-mile loop) should be recognized regionally as an ideal scenic biking route, and the city of Phoenix should do its part to paint the roads and provide signs where it can.
  2. Bike commuters need to travel safely to schools, the library, the new park n' ride facility at 27th/Baseline, and other vital public facilities.
  3. Bike commuters should be able to safely travel to businesses and government offices located north of Laveen, such as a path to the government office complex at 35th Avenue and Lower Buckeye.
  4. We should develop trails along the Highline Canal, similar to those from 40th Street to Central (or thereabouts), as well as an interconnected trail access network to South Mountain.
  5. And my favorite: Let's get some use out of the existing trails along the Laveen Area Conveyance Channel (LACC) by adding HAWK lights where the LACC crosses busy streets. See my letter to Kerry Wilcoxon (from Streets and Transportation -- click here for his email address), on which I also copied Mr. Perez and Councilman Nowakowski:
Hello Mr. Wilcoxon,

I am a member of the Laveen Village Planning Committee and wanted to follow up on a topic that arose in our meeting last night. When discussing planned and existing bike paths with Joe Perez, we brought up the point that our popular yet mostly unmarked crossings for the Laveen Area Conveyance Channel are progressively dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. They also may represent a missed opportunity for the city's transportation planning goals.

The Laveen community continues to grow, which means commensurately increasing vehicular traffic on Baseline Road and 51st Avenue, as well as increasing use of the trails along the Laveen Area Conveyance Channel (LACC). While these trails offer a great deal of potential functionality for bike-commuting and recreation, Laveen residents fear the ever more dangerous levels of traffic where the LACC crosses Baseline Road (near 56th Ave.) and 51st Avenue (near Vineyard).

As a general safety issue, I'm sure that traffic mitigation needs have already been identified or anticipated for these busy arterial roads. Therefore, I propose that where the LACC crosses them, we ought to address the urgent issue of safety at those crossings, help control traffic along the connecting corridors, reduce our problematically high nearby pollution levels, enhance the outdoor lifestyle of the Laveen and South Mountain communities, and even help Mr. Perez accomplish his goal of making Phoenix a more bikeable city. HAWK signals may very well be the answer to all of the above. Thank you for your consideration of this proposal.


Patrick T. Brennan

I strongly suggest that you take part in the discussion as well. Feel free to use my email message above, regarding the HAWK signals, or pick your own area of interest to pursue. Thanks for reading and caring.