Written with Garrett Johnson.
The City of Shreveport just revealed an update to the Highland bike lane pilot program originally proposed in February at a public meeting.
The first version of the pilot program brought criticism as it largely did not follow recommendations set forth in the City and Parish-approved Bike-Ped Master Plan which was the result of years of work by citizens, researchers, and government officials. It also disregarded national best practices by recommending some roads have bike paths that only accommodated traffic in one direction instead of both directions.
However, after accepting citizen comments referring the city to the pre-approved Master Plan and national best practices, mayor Ollie Tyler and city engineer Robert Westerman have unveiled their updated plan, which largely mirrors the collected suggestions we published in our critical article written after the previous meeting.
The changes recommended in our article included:
- Recommended removal of Centenary Blvd. from the pilot program. If Centenary was to be included, the preference is bi-directional sharrows instead of bike lanes.
- Prioritize bi-directional bike lanes where possible. Preference: Fairfield Ave. and Gilbert Dr. south of Kings Hwy.
- Utilize sharrows where bi-directional bike lanes are not possible OR on-street parking is prohibitive instead of creating uni-directional bike lanes. Preference: Creswell Ave., Ockley Dr., Gilbert Dr. north of Kings Hwy.
- Reduce car lanes from 12’ to 10’ as a nationally-recognized best practice to reduce speeding and accident occurrence while creating additional space for bike lanes.
The changes the city made in draft two:
- Restripe Creswell Avenue from Stoner to Ockley as a sharrow bike type facility for north and southbound movement. This was the addition to the plan as per comments received in the public meeting as well as the citizen communications.
- Restripe Ockley Drive from Gilbert to Line Avenue as a sharrow bike type facility for east and westbound movement. The original proposal called for a single bike lane. The consensus of opinion from the public hearing and citizen comments requested this to be considered as a sharrow facility.
- Eliminate Centenary Avenue as a dedicated bike type facility due to no interconnecting bike type facility at the current time. Once other facilities are provided in the future, then reconsideration for a bike type facility could be made on a portion of this roadway. This is consistent with the comments received at the public hearing and from citizen comments.
- Eliminate Fairfield Avenue from Pierremont to Jordan for use as a bike type facility due to the use of only one bike lane and insufficient roadway width for two bike lanes. This is consistent with the comments received at the public hearing and from other citizen comments.
The roads, once completed would look something like this:
The only glaring issue with the new plan is the final point about Fairfield Avenue. From those in attendance in the previous meeting, it seemed the consensus was that Fairfield was a priority roadway. It has plenty of room to accommodate two 5′ bike lanes, with two 10′ roadways and a 1′ center line.
As we mentioned in our previous article, making driving lanes 10′ wide instead of 11′ or 12′ or more it is a nationally-recognized best practice to reduce speeding and accident occurrence while creating additional space for bike lanes. Even a collector street should be able to manage this width. Reducing driving lanes won’t make a traffic jam. There’s hardly enough traffic on Fairfield to cause problems with reduced lane sizes, and I-49 is 3 to 4 blocks over.
Even if the City is unwilling to admit this, sharrows are still needed. The only thing we can surmise is that there may be other interests at work who provided the “other citizen comments” pushing back against bike infrastructure on Fairfield, particularly south of Kings Highway. The City should be forthcoming about what reasons are behind not striping this popular cycling route when they were willing to do one lane just six weeks ago. That said, the mayor and other city officials took comments regarding this issue during the meeting.
We encourage you to share your thoughts with the city at their designated email (firstname.lastname@example.org), by phone (318-673-5050), or in person whenever you see your representative.
Lastly, we will throw out a proposition. Calling this project a pilot program would imply the intention of the creation of a second phase (and beyond). The mayor confirmed today that this was their intention but also said they hadn’t made any specific plans as of yet. Allow us to make some suggestions.
We’ve worked with the folks at Bike Shreveport to make a proposal on what we think Phase 2 should look like, taking into consideration the Shreveport-Caddo Bike/Ped Master Plan 2016 which includes a list of preferred bike corridors. It should also take into consideration the plans to connect Shreveport Common which already has some funding for bike lanes in its development area.
With that, take a look at our thoughts for a Phase 2, which would create a more complete Highland project. We know it doesn’t extend out into the community, but it creates a proper grid for study. Phases 3, 4, and 5 should absolutely extend into west Shreveport neighborhoods like Allendale-Lakeside, Caddo Heights, and Broadmoor-Shreve Island.
Until then, here are our thoughts on Phase 2. Click to enlarge: