Separate bike lanes advised for MacArthur Boulevard

Traffic safety study suggests shift would benefit all users

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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MacArthur Boulevard in the Vancouver Heights will likely go from two vehicle lanes each direction to one vehicle lane and one bike lane in each direction, according to a city memo from Public Works Director Brian Carlson.

That marks a change from a preliminary recommendation to keep two vehicle lanes in each direction on MacArthur, which runs east-west between Mill Plain Boulevard and Lieser Road, and to add markings for a shared bike lane from Lieser to Andresen Road.

The Vancouver City Council will hear details of the new plan during a workshop on traffic safety projects, 4 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 415 W. Sixth St.

Carlson wrote Tuesday in a memo to City Manager Eric Holmes that under the proposed restriping plan there will be turn lanes at the primary intersections of Devine Road, Andresen Road and Lieser Road, and a right-turn only lane to the entrance of Marshall Elementary School.

Since the fall, city staff has sought input from neighbors and the community at large on whether the city should change MacArthur's configuration following microsurfacing, which will be done this summer as part of the city's pavement management program. The work is slated to be completed before schools re-open on Sept. 4.

The primary factor driving the change in striping plans, Carlson wrote, was a more extensive traffic count and speed study.

"That study showed that existing and projected future traffic volumes do not require two vehicle-travel through lanes in each direction and (going to just one) will not result in a lower level of service," he wrote.

The average speed in both directions was 37 miles per hour, slightly faster than the posted speed limit of 35 mph. The 85th percentile speed (the speed at or below which 85 percent of vehicles travel) was 41 mph, Carlson wrote.

That's faster than what's recommended for shared bicycle lanes, he wrote.

"Based on studies of lane reductions on streets, the city can expect both the average and 85th percentile speed to decrease once it is implemented making the corridor inherently safer for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians alike," Carlson wrote.

In a citywide survey, 52 percent of 330 respondents preferred dedicated bike lanes. In a survey of people who live in ZIP codes bordering MacArthur, only 42 percent of 254 respondents said they preferred dedicated bike lanes.


Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.