The Dowling roundabouts have been identified as a major safety concern for Anchorage bicyclists. In a survey administered by Vision Zero in 2016, the Dowling/Seward Interchange was the second-most-commonly identified intersection where respondents were concerned about bicycle/pedestrian safety (following Northern Lights & New Seward).
Both the Anchorage Bicycle Plan (2010) and the Anchorage Pedestrian Plan (2007) also identify the interchange as an area where non-motorized facilities need improvement. Dowling is one of only a few places where any traffic can cross the New Seward Highway in South Anchorage, so ensuring safety and usability for all types of traffic is crucial.
- The Dowling/Seward Interchange Draft Design Study Report (May 2019) does not propose substantive changes to how non-motorized users will travel through the roundabouts
- We also note that there are no dedicated bicycle facilities planned as part of this project. Instead, bicyclists are expected to share pedestrian facilities, which decreases usability and safety both for bicyclists and pedestrians.
With wider lanes motorists tend increase their speeds.
Given that bicyclists will be expected to share pedestrian facilities to travel through the roundabouts, and barring any major changes to the planned roundabout design, we request the following design elements to improve usability and safety for bicyclists:
Ensure that all crosswalk refuge islands are at least 12 ft wide to allow longer bicycles (tandems, recumbent trikes, bikes pulling trailers) to fit in the refuge area. Otherwise, those islands will be unusable or hazardous traps for a portion of the cycling traffic.
Consider installing concrete curbs between the motorized travel lanes rather than simply painting buffers; this will help reduce motorized traffic speeds at crosswalks, which is crucial for improving safety for non-motorized users in roundabouts.
Install Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at every crosswalk. The current plan to install RRFBs only at the north-south crossings neglects to assist non-motorized traffic crossing east-west to travel along Dowling. Most non-motorized traffic travels along Dowling, rather than along the frontage roads, and thus will be using the east-west crossings. The Draft Design Study Report acknowledges that driver yielding behavior is known to be poor at all exits of the roundabout, indicating the need for improved crossing safety in all directions.
Assuming the RRFBs will be manually triggered, please ensure that the angles of approach between the crosswalk ramps and the buttons allow for the wider-turning radius of longer bicycles, as well as ensuring access for riders of recumbent bicycles who cannot step up on a curb to access the button.
Paint the crosswalks with zebra stripes, which improve motorists’ awareness of the presence of a crosswalk, rather than two parallel lines as indicated in the project graphics.
Install Pedestrian Crossing warning signs prior to each crosswalk (not only at the crosswalk as currently planned) to alert motorists in advance.
- Prior to and after the roundabouts on both Dowling and the frontage roads, provide ramps for bicyclists to move between the road and the sidewalk/path. Some bicyclists may prefer to use the crosswalks in the roundabouts but would otherwise be biking on the road, especially given that there are painted bike lanes on Dowling just two blocks west of the interchange. Allowing bicyclists a safe, clear, and timely way to exit the road will be crucial for the safety of all traffic.
September 21, 2020, through October 23, 2020, and closes at 5:00 PM AKST.
Read an Article about Roundabouts and Non-motorized users Here.