September 26, 2007

Bike Lane May Be Added to State Street

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In order to facilitate bicycle travel between Cornell, Collegetown and downtown Ithaca, the City of Ithaca is considering building a bike lane on the eastbound, or uphill, side of East State Street. The bike lane would extend between the “tuning fork” intersection of East State Street with Seneca Way and Green Street near the Commons and its intersection with Mitchell Street.
The proposal also calls for the relocation of the street’s centerline in order to widen the westbound lane from its present 12 feet to approximately 15 or 16 feet. This would allow bikers to maneuver comfortably at speeds keeping pace with traffic as they go downhill.
City Traffic Engineer Tim Logue stated that a bicycle lane along this segment of East State Street would be ideal because it is one of the main streets that connects the downtown area to Route 79. “Not all streets need a designated bike lane,” said Logue, “but given the high volume of traffic that uses East State Street every day, roughly 17,000 or 18,000 cars, it would certainly serve to create a better connection between downtown Ithaca and Cornell.”
The City’s engineering department identified East State Street as a good location for the desired bike lane after weighing other geographical options. “Looking at the number of streets that climb East Hill, the best available choices were East State Street or University Avenue,” said Logue. He went on to say that East State Street’s comparatively gentle slope and wide right-of-way were factors in its final selection.
The Board of Public Works will tentatively vote on the bike lane proposal on Oct. 10. According to Logue, complications of the project include the source of funding and the need to consolidate parking space on the south side of East State Street.
“There’s an old federal bike grant on the record, but we’re not sure if it’ll apply here, in which case the project will be financed with town monies,” said Logue. He estimated the cost of the bike lane’s construction to be between 20,000 and 30,000 dollars. Construction would begin in late spring or early summer of next year.
The changes to parking would place the envisioned East State Street bike lane between the parking lane on the road’s shoulder and moving lanes of traffic. It would also provide room on the westbound side for less experienced riders to remain close to the curb as they head downhill. “Riders who are more comfortable moving at 25 or 30 miles per hour would be able to pass them on the right without interfering with traffic,” said Logue.
Andrew Bernstein ’11 said he had considered bringing a bicycle with him to Cornell, but decided against it in favor of foot or bus travel around campus and to all other points in Ithaca. “I didn’t think a bicycle would be more efficient then a bus, but if the bike lane opens between here and downtown I might consider bringing my bike when the weather gets nicer in the spring,” said Bernstein.
The bike lane proposal does not include any provisions to install new bike racks along this section of East State Street.
“We’ve rolled out a couple new bike racks in the downtown area recently, because there it would make sense if someone wanted to lockup their bike and hop on one of the buses,” said Logue. “If a demand arises for bike racks along East State Street or anywhere else, we’ll consider it.”