Tempe Will Modify Controversial McClintock Bike Lanes

By Mariana Dale
Published: Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 5:05am
(Photo by Mariana Dale - KJZZ)
Cyclists say the buffered bike lane on McClintock has made the street safer.

A pair of bike lanes on Tempe’s McClintock Drive praised by bikers and detested by some drivers inspired more than two years of public discussion.

Tempe City Council on Thursday approved a $3.6 million compromise that restores a southbound traffic lane to a portion of the road.

“Let’s do the low-hanging fruit that we all agree on, like this could be a big contentious issue where everyone talks about, death on the highway and people waiting and property values,” said Kolby Granville as the meeting approached its fourth hour.

“This could become like, a thing. Let’s not make it a thing,” he said.

Here’s what council approved:

  • Apache Boulevard to Broadway Road: Add a third southbound car travel lane. Remove planter boxes along southbound Union Pacific Railroad underpass to widen sidewalk. Bicycles will share widened sidewalk. Add standard northbound bike lane by narrowing travel lanes. Cost: $831,000.
  • Broadway Road to Southern Avenue. Widen west side of road and add a third southbound car travel lane. Bikes will have a standard bike lane north and southbound. Cost: $2.2 million.
  • Southern Avenue to Baseline Road. Add a third southbound car travel lane. Bikes will have buffered bike lanes north and southbound with the exception of a standard southbound bike lane at the U.S. 60. Cost: $529,000.
  • McClintock from Baseline to Elliot roads will remain unchanged.

RELATED: Early Data Shows Slower Traffic, Fewer Accidents After McClintock Bike Lane Addition

Tempe repaved McClintock Drive between Broadway and Guadalupe roads in 2015, adding a protected bike lane. Traffic data show the number of cars traveling on the road has decreased over the last decade from peaks of 45,000 to peaks of 35,000.

More than 40 people, many of them a cyclist, spoke during at the meeting.

"McClintock bicycle lanes are one of the only places I feel safe, and I ride my bike everyday,” Tempe resident Patrick Gilbery said. “The only way to move the city forward is to provide adequate, safe bicycle infrastructure.”

Some nearby residents, however, said they’ve seen traffic snarl along McClintock since the bike lanes were installed.

“Every morning I sit in a gridlock and watch cars zoom up the bike lane,” said Mary Lambert, who said she’s driven the road for the last 12 years.

Those two people crystallize many of the arguments made for and against the bike lanes. Supporters see them as an asset to bicyclist safety and a step toward a Tempe with strong multimodal transportation. Those who wants the bike lanes removed feel they are underutilized and have been personally inconvenienced by the traffic.

A survey of residents from public outreach earlier in March showed 51 percent wanted the lanes eliminated, 15 percent support the current configuration, and 34 percent support a different scenario that adds a lane for southbound cars and keeps bicycle lanes.

“We’re all listening to everybody, we’re trying to come up with a compromise,” Mayor Mark Mitchell said during the meeting.

The changes the council approved are expected to take up to two years to complete. First, the city will hire a design consultant, and the City Council will have to approve a contract. Construction will take up to a year. The cost for the modifications is an estimated $3.6 million.