Tempe’s Sustainability Commission discussed Monday McClintock Drive’s bicycle lane configuration project for better safety and less environmental impact.
Alix Monty, a sustainability commissioner, said the project was not focusing enough on keeping bikers safe and “minimizing the loss of trees.”
According to Julian Dresang, a city traffic engineer at city of Tempe, in the project’s goal is to minimize traffic by adjusting McClintock Drive’s bicycle lanes. He said that the area needing immediate attention goes from Apache Boulevard to Broadway Road, where drivers take up to 6 minutes per mile during peak hours. The most “cost effective” alternative that would reduce traffic and maintain bicycle transportation is to widen the sidewalk for pedestrians and bikers to share it, he added. However, Dresang said that this alternative would not only make bicycle transportation more dangerous but it would also mean cutting down 82 trees.
Gretchen Reinhardt, a sustainability commissioner, said she was concerned about what the neighborhood wanted because she had received a lot of complaints about merging the sidewalk and the bicycle lane, making that path “even more dangerous than it already is.” The number of trees that need to be cut down would not only affect the environment but it would also reduce shading area during the summer, she said, adding,
“It’s an area that does have quite a bit of pedestrian use and that has a lot of bicycle use.”
Three Tempe residents expressed their concerns on the issue. Ashley Camhi said she did not think it was a good idea to cut down the trees because it was going against Tempe’s Urban Forestry Master Plan.
Chelsea Pickett said she did not think the alternative solution was going to create a safe environment for bikers by getting rid of the buffer zone, adding,
“People won’t ride their bicycles if it’s scary and dangerous to do so and it’s just going to be a larger waste of money.”
Jim Delton said he was very upset about the implementation of a bicycle lane because the people that live in McClintock did not “like what was done.”
“Why didn’t the city know that?” Delton said. “How did they get this project through without knowing that everybody was going to be unhappy about it?”
Delton said that during the peak hour, right and left turns have become much harder to do, adding,
“We’re talking about inconveniencing 30,000 people a day because a few people would like to have a dedicated bicycle lane.”
Dresang said that the project’s research showed that 51% of the surveyed population from the area of concern did not consider it a necessity to spend more money on bicycle lanes. The other 49%, he said, did want to see some changes but in different manners, either by removing the bicycle lanes or by implementing other solutions that had not been listed as part of the project. He said that despite Tempe’s population divided opinion on bicycle lanes, the project had received a lot of positive feedback in the city of Chandler wanting to add more bicycle lanes in their area.
Corey Hawkey, a sustainability commissioner, said he was in favor of maintaining bicycle lanes on McClintock, noting,
“We need to design the city of the future.”