|Missoula Bike Lanes: Looking at the System|
Missoula's first bike lane was striped in the fall of 1997. Since then, nearly 65% of Missoula's arterial streets have been restriped with bike lanes. Some lanes work well for safety and comfort while other lanes need improvements:
Rattlesnake Dr., in front of Rattlesnake Gardens
The now wider bike lane removes a hazard- the sign pole was in the handlebar zone.
Van Buren Dr., a half mile north of Van Buren/ Broadway intersection
North on Van Buren near I-90
North on Van Buren near I-90
-the motor vehicle lanes could be narrowed from 12’ to 10’. This would allow room for a 4’ bike lane.
Fall 2012 update: State DOT is moving forward with plans to install a dogbone roundabout system in this location in 2014. We believe this can be good for sustainable transportation yet several concerns with speed and merging have surfaced.
Orange Street, looking south near 3rd St before 4' shoulder striped.
Full 6' bike lanes can be integrated into the existing street width here by implementing a road diet to 3-lanes (the traffic volumes are in the range that this would work). This would facilitate good transportation safety and flow and act to revitalize this section of Missoula.
With going to a 3-lane system, further narrowing of the travel lanes is feasible: To be called a bike lane, 5' of space is needed, since a curb exists (4' of shoulder can be called a bike lane if no curb exists generally). To gain another foot, the center turn lane can be narrowed from 11' to 10' (allowable under local standards) and the travel lanes be further narrowed from 10' to 9'9" in order to gain a minimum 5' bike lane. *For reference, the motor vehicle travel lanes on the Higgins St. bridge range from 9'6" to 9'9"- and the State found that crashes were lower than on wider lanes.*
2012- Epoxy paint was used last summer, keeping the 4' (and under) shoulder in place. This roadway will continue to be a challenge to bicyclists. There are some new proposals coming about to improve this road. One, from a city councilman, is to have a 3-lane Orange St, with parking on both sides.
The Long Range Transportation Plan is looking at several possible road and trail improvements, such as that proposed for Orange. The next meeting is September 25, 2012, 5 to 8pm open house, at the Holiday Inn Parkside off Pattee.
Stephens Ave. looking south near Beckwith
Higgins Ave., just north of the curve where Pattee Canyon enters
In 2009, this bike lane was made one foot wider than shown in this older photo. The 2011 epoxy project added even more width. This bike lane is in front of the University’s Lewis and Clark student housing and is an important bike route for all ages, complementing the new trail behind the housing complex.
The motor vehicle lane in the picture is 11’ 2”-unnecessarily wide- and encourages speeding. The center turn lane used to be too wide also, which increases speed and maintenance costs. The bike lane in the picture is 22” wide- not counting the concrete gutter pan. The seam between gutter pans and asphalt tends to crack and widen over time and should not be counted toward bike lane widths when measuring in general. Careful paving over the gutter pan can increase the effective bike lane width somewhat.
Chip sealing and other routine maintenance endeavors provide opportunities to improve Missoula’s biking system. Small changes to the widths of lanes on the street can strongly improve the comfort and safety of both cyclists and motorists. Missoula, like over 200 communities, has adopted a 'Complete Streets' ordinance that now calls for evaluating roadways for walker and cyclist improvements any time a resurfacing of the road happens.
We are working on a matrix that lists our suggested lane widths for different size roads, based on parking or no parking, level of active transportation use, and land use type. We will post when completed.
2010 pre construction season project analysis for bike lane status-
Accommodating Bike Lanes, Using 10' Travel Lanes (link coming)