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Early Data Shows Slower Traffic, Fewer Accidents After McClintock Bike Lane Addition
The addition of a bike lane and loss of a car lane on Tempe’s McClintock Drive has divided residents.
Preliminary data from the city shows the change has made the road between Guadalupe Road and Broadway Road slower, but also decreased accidents.
This information was presented at a City Council work-study session Thursday where dozens of residents on either side of the issue spoke out.
Lifelong Tempe resident Kristian Doak said cycling on McClintock used to be “god —expletive— terrifying.”
“You feel safe on the road now. You aren’t scared for your life anymore,” Doak said.
Edward Hooten lives off McClintock and says the removal of a car lane snarled traffic.
“It’s a great inconvenience to most of my neighbors,” Hooten said.
After hours of testimony, City Council directed staff to explore options to keep the bike lanes and possibly add back a lane for southbound vehicle traffic.
“Ultimately we’re still driven toward this vision of a multimodal city,” Councilwoman Lauren Kuby said.
Data scratches surface of bike lanes’ impact
Tempe repaved McClintock Drive between Broadway and Guadalupe in July 2015.
The city reported it distributed 5,600 door hangers in nearby neighborhoods advertising the change and a public meeting in May. Just 46 people, less than 1 percent, showed up.
However, since April 2015, Tempe received 758 unique comments about the project. About 40 percent were against the bicycle lanes and 60 percent favored them.
A telephone survey of 425 residents gave a slight edge to those who oppose removing a lane of traffic to add a bike lane.
“The vision is a nightmare,” said Lee Shapiro said of the repaving project.
The word nightmare was used by several residents who live near McClintock as they described difficult turning onto McClintock during rush hour. They also complained they hardly ever see cyclists using the bicycle lanes.
Three months of bicycle counts showed between six and 13 cyclists were counted during 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. This data, like almost all presented at the meeting was short-term.
Susan Conklu cycles and commutes by car. She lives off McClintock and said does her shopping not far from the bike route.
“I like being able to get there in whatever mode I choose that day,” Conklu said.
As a driver, she’s noticed changes, too.
“I feel like it’s brought people closer to the speed limit when they’re driving,” she said. “I have a very small car and I feel like people are always mowing me down in my car practically.”
City councilman Kolby Granville says it’s definitive that protected bike lanes make for safer cycling.
“What it really is, is do we inconvenience people by one minute in their drive time or do we make people less safe?” Granville said.
Preliminary data collected by the city shows the number of cars driving McClintock has decreased in the past 12 years — in some areas up to 25 percent.
Since the bike lanes were added and a lane of traffic removed, travel time has increased. The biggest jump was up an average of 1 minute 37 seconds per mile traveling southbound in peak hours.
Crash data for the year after the bike lanes were installed shows accidents at minor intersections and midblock decreased 28 and 25 percent. Major intersection crashes increased 7 percent. Tempe staff emphasized the data is preliminary. Definitive data comes from at least three years of study.
City staff proposed several ideas ranging in cost from $10,000 to continue collecting data to $20 million to improve parallel bike routes.
Mayor Mark Mitchell said removing the bike lanes entirely isn’t an option.
“There’s always room for compromise. There’s always room that we can work together.”