Can you imagine a Spenard corridor like this?
What’s this about?
Spenard Road (between Minnesota and Benson) will be rebuilt soon to better fit the businesses, residents, and wider Anchorage community. Unfortunately, the project's current design features unsafe and high-stress bike facility designs that will not be usable for most people.
*If you want to get involved send an email using our template.
This DOT project proposes:
Option 1. 8-foot sidewalk, 4-feet bicycle lane (unprotected), 2-feet of curb and gutter.
Option 2. 12-foot multi-use pathway made up of a 6-foot sidewalk and a 6-foot bike lane (it's unclear if there will be a separation of each section).
Option 3. 7 ½ foot sidewalk, 4 1/2 feet bicycle lane (unprotected), and 2-feet of curb and gutter.
*Note: all design options have two 11-foot travel lanes (for vehicles) and a 13-foot center turn lane.
The Bike Anchorage Advocacy Committee opposes unprotected bike lanes on this core community corridor that should be accessible to everyone. Spenard road will not see a redesign like this for another 20 to 30 years. So, let's make Spenard a route for all the people in Anchorage!
This petition calls on DOT to provide protected bike lanes all along the Spenard Rd project (Benson Blvd to Minnesota Dr). If you want to get involved send an email using our template.
What are "Protected Bike Lanes"?
Protected bike lanes offer physical protection to people on bikes and increase driver sightline to people biking at driveways and intersections. They are what most cities are using to enable more people to go by bike.
Protected bike lanes are safe and functional for people of all abilities (that means YOU and your family). In contrast, unprotected bike lanes (meaning bike lanes marked only with paint) will be considered usable to only ~3% of people.
*Examples of urban protected bike lanes in the United States
Is there enough room on Spenard for protected bike lanes?
Yes! 65-feet of right-of-way space provides the necessary room for traffic levels while also offering these modern bikes and walking amenities. It is possible and will take community members like you to speak up and encourage our city planners for the much-needed change. As currently proposed by DOT, the new Spenard redesign proposes the highest level of stress bike facilities and is considered usable only by the elite “strong and fearless” riders.
Does the Community want protected bike lanes?
The Spenard Corridor plan and project review meetings recorded overwhelming business and community support for modern bike and walkability. As a result, we were surprised that the Alaska DOT project team released roadway diagrams that go so strongly against the planning and community input years by omitting working bike facilities.
Here 7 important reasons to build protected bike lanes on Spenard:
1) Safety and Usability. Protected bike lanes will make the street much safer for people riding bikes or other rolling options by physically protecting them from the dangers of cars and trucks along the roadway.
Rather than expecting bicyclists and other moderate-speed users to travel on the sidewalk, providing a dedicated bicycle facility will provide a better experience for pedestrians and people with disabilities. It will also make bicyclists more visible when crossing the many side streets and business pullouts of Spenard.
The street will be safer and less congested for everyone—including people driving.
2) Business and Midtown community success. Protected bike lanes mean business and are hugely beneficial for local businesses, the nearby residential livability, and property values. Protected bike lanes will help businesses recover from the hits they've taken during COVID by bringing an entirely new stream of foot and bike traffic.
Protected bike lanes allow "all-ability" use by the community by making this corridor a welcoming area to spend time... not just to drive through. When a street is bike and foot-accessible to all community members, local commerce and neighborhoods thrive!
3) Equity. Protected bike lanes on Spenard will provide people in outer Midtown a faster, more affordable alternative to driving. A city's ability to provide its community safe and practical transportation options beyond owning a vehicle is the number one factor for ensuring at-risk community members can stay and move above the poverty line.
4) Climate goals. By encouraging people to bike rather than drive, we'll get closer to achieving our city's goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. In addition to helping us achieve long-term goals, protected bike lanes will immediately make the neighborhood's air cleaner and reduce noise pollution.
5) Accessibility. Protected bike lanes benefit younger, elder, and people with physical disabilities by giving them a safe, fast, and comfortable way to get around on bikes and other mobility devices. In addition, they allow them to be more independent by not relying on cars and other people for every trip.
6) Winter City Infrastructure and maintenance budgets. Many winter cities in North America and around the Arctic Circle have experienced increases in bike usage after implementing an urban network of protected and low-stress bike lanes. The rise in the use of bikes for transportation reduces the cost of construction and maintenance. Every additional percentage of trips made by bicycle will save our state's budget millions with reduced wear, tear, and collision damage on our roads.
Protected bike lanes are also what winter cities have moved to because they are a better option to allow easy, cost-effective year-round maintenance (including winters). In contrast, painted bike lanes, which are not feasible to maintain during winter and spring.
7) Building for the future. Now is our opportunity to ask for the Spenard that we want to experience for the coming decades.
If you support this vision for Spenard, please join our community movement.
Send your petition using our email template and share it with others.
WE NEED YOUR HELP CONNECTING ANCHORAGE TO THE BIRD-TO-GIRD TRAIL
Commenters like YOU needed!
CONNECTING ANCHORAGE TO THE BIRD-TO-GIRD TRAIL
Summer 2020, Bike Anchorage commented on a planned Alaska DOT project to upgrade the Seward Highway at Windy Corner MP105-107 (2 miles). At that time, DOT’s plans did not include the construction of a separated path along the highway, even though the stated intent was to build a path there at some point in the future. The Project Team stated that right-of-way was being made for a path, not actually building room along the corridor. Despite the massive work planned to widen the highway, blast large sections of cliff, and move the railroad, the additional work to construct the 10 foot path was not deemed valuable.
A major project update: “Windy Corner to Rainbow Point (MP105-109.5)”
But now there’s some good news! Following extensive community feedback, DOT has updated the project to include “considering” constructing a path. This is especially good news because the updated project has been extended by 2.5 miles and will now cover the stretch between the Falls Creek Trailhead and Rainbow Trailhead.
Project map from http://www.windycorner.info/
Building a separated pathway makes even more sense now that the project is longer (4.5 miles), and would also provide an option to travel between the two trailheads without getting back in your car. Improving safety is a major stated goal of this project, and including the separated pathway is crucial to realize that goal.
Building the path on this section is also the next essential step toward connecting Anchorage to the popular Bird to Gird Trail. This project spans 4.5 miles of the remaining 12-mile gap from Potter Marsh (Old Seward Hwy) to Indian rd, where the separated pathway currently starts. We would love to have the option of biking all the way from home to Girdwood without ever having to get on the highway shoulder!
The Bird to Gird Trail (above) is a safe, quiet, and scenic route that is MUCH more welcoming than the highway shoulder.
The highway shoulder at the project site (above). note the gavel and highway debris that narrow any width shoulders down to 2-feet.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
DOT has opened a new period for public comment on this updated project. Please submit a written comment any time before July 15th. Comments can be sent to:
Tom Schmid, P.E. - Project Manager
DOT&PF Central Region Preliminary Design & Environmental
P.O. Box 196900
Anchorage, AK 99519-6900
Email: [email protected]
More personalized comments are better. Although written comments do not need to be long or detailed - you can simply state that you are in favor of constructing a separated path along the highway corridor with the Windy to Rainbow project. Bike Anchorage will be preparing a detailed letter after the open house, and we’ll make it publicly available before the July 15th deadline in case you’d like to get some ideas for your own comment.
Example Arguments DOWL and DOT are using against building pathway that you can address:
1. The Project/pathway doesn't connect to the Bird to Gird so it shouldn't be built.
-This is frustrating because DOT just built a Bird to Gird pathway extension in a project that went to MP 105 (the end of Windy Corner project), but left out building a pathway all the way to that mile point. This was a critical link knowing this pathway was a needed link. We know the highway is built in sections and each mile of pathway is critical. Building the pathway with this project is much cheaper and more likely to happen than a special pathway project in the distant future.
2. The Pathway will send users into the highway.
-We know that engineers and designers can make plenty of small and temporary pathway adjustments to warn and stop regular pathway users from "accidentally" walking into the highway. There are also roads and driveways that the project could connect to, giving those residents access to safe walking and bikein facilities.
3. People biking the highway will have wider shoulders so they should be happy.
- adding 4.5 of pathway to the 12 remaining miles of highway without pathway will dramatically improve safety and comfort of users. We know even the widest of shoulders get buried in gavel and force people on bike close to high speed vehicles (see photo above).
Thanks for reading and commenting. See you on the trails!
Bike Anchorage is excited to offer Smart Cycling for anyone in the community (ages 16+) that are looking to improve their bicycle skills. The class will take place on Monday 6/21 and Wednesday 6/23 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.
Monday's class will be held virtually and will cover topics like bike fit, maintenance, and rules of the road. Wednesday will be an outdoor in-person and on-bike session where we will practice bike skills and on-street riding (the specific location is still to be defined).
All attendees will need a working bicycle and a helmet to participate, if you don't have a helmet, we can provide one if you need it.
The cost for this two-day class is $20 and it includes printed educational materials. If cost is a barrier, we ask you to email [email protected] for scholarship information. All proceeds will benefit Bike Anchorage.
How to know if this course it's for you?
The Smart Cycling Class is a curriculum created by The League of American Bicyclists and can only be taught by certified League Cycling Instructors. This curriculum is designed to develop the confidence and competence of a bicycle rider. Students will learn about choosing a bicycle, basic parts of a bike, essential equipment, as well as how to safely and comfortably ride your bike in various traffic conditions, terrain and climates.
Here at Bike Anchorage, we love bike infrastructure. Although we strongly recognize that Anchorage must modernize and move towards all-ability bike ways networks, we are glad when the Muni or DOT builds bike paths or bike lanes on Anchorage roads. But once any infrastructure is built, it needs to be maintained in order to be usable. A major problem this spring has been the large amounts of gravel remaining on bike routes long past the time the snow has melted. When a path, shoulder, or bike lane is full of gravel, people on bikes must either ride through the gravel - running the risk of encountering unpredictably deep piles or picking up debris that can cause tire punctures - or ride directly in the lane used by motorized traffic, where cars have already cleared the gravel out of the lane. Either choice is unnecessarily dangerous.
The arterial roads maintained by the Municipality were all swept by May 15th - hooray! Unfortunately, some arterial roads (and their adjacent separated paths) maintained by DOT have remained unswept long past their May 15th deadline. This has included roads like Raspberry Rd that have marked bike lanes and are major bike corridors. On May 18th, we asked DOT when Raspberry Rd would be swept, but they didn’t have any information about when their contractor would clear that road.
In this video, we checked out the gravel remaining on the Raspberry Rd bike lanes on May 25th and put ourselves to work in sweeping some of the most dangerous areas.
How you can help:
Whether you're a person who drives, rolls, or both, we are urging community members interested in equitable transportation policy to call or email our Anchorage Maintenance and Operation District Superintendent:
[email protected] (907) 338-1466. Tell DOT to SweepMyRide and prioritize bike routes for spring sweeping to improve safety for all road users.
Bike Month is almost over, but before that happens we want to invite you to participate in our Scavenger Hunt. This time we are trying to make it a -Choose your own adventure- type of scavenger hunt, which means that you have a lot of checkpoint options from which to plan your route.
You can plan your route and do it as long or short as you want, you can visit the checkpoints close to your neighborhood, or take this opportunity to bike across the city, ride the multi-use trails, streets, stick to Single Track Trails only or mix it up, it's all up to you. Why have we decided to do it this way? Because we want to make sure our activity is accessible to all types of bicycle riders.
We have nine NiteRider Lumina Micro of 750 lumens front lights to give away. Everyone who participates will be entered into a raffle and we'll draft 9 names who will be the winners of the lights.
How can you submit your entry?
1. Download the checkpoint list, and add the photos of the checkpoints you visit.
2. Send the checkpoint list to [email protected]
On Tuesday, June 1st we will announce the winners, you get an extra entry if you share a picture of your adventure and tag us on Instagram.