DES MOINES, Iowa – It’s been seven months since the redesign of East Grand Avenue created protected bike lanes, reduced vehicle travel lanes and improved pedestrian crossings.
The redesign is part of a pilot project to connect downtown.
Senior Vice President of Community Development at Greater Des Moines Partnership Meg Schneider said this area was chosen based off of businesses and residents in the area.
“Part of the reason this was chosen as the pilot is because we heard from residents and businesses that this is a treacherous spot. In particular at the intersection of East Fourth and East Grand. They would see folks trying to get across to go shop on the other side and drivers coming through just not really paying attention to that, because the environment was so wide open drivers felt very comfortable barreling through at a rate that was much higher than the posted speed limit,” Schneider said.
Schneider said since the unveiling a few things have been modified, which include: moving the plastic delineators closer to the curb and taking away some delineators by the curb to all large vehicles to turn.
The suggestions came from people voicing their opinions on a city map about the new redesign.
Schneider said they looked at large cities like Minneapolis when redesigning.
“The new gold standard if you are going to have bike lanes on the street, because it creates an actual physical barrier. First of all, having parallel parking makes your sidewalks safe. As you are walking around as a pedestrian you have a steel barrier between you and traffic. That’s a big win for safety, but that also plays out if you are on a bicycle,” Schneider said.
Schneider said the “gold standard” comes from the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
People have mixed opinions about the redesign:
Becky Prazak said, “All the hassle has taken away the joy of being there.”
Lorenz Hasen said, “As a biker I love having the protected bike lanes because I don’t trust biking right next to cars that are going 35 miles per hour.”
Richard DeBartolo said, “Makes it very hard for large vehicles to turn corners.”
Jake Habhab said, “ As a driver's ed instructor it seems to be confusing for inexperienced drivers.”
Schneider said the pilot project will go through all four seasons before deciding if it has achieved its goal of creating a safer space for everyone.
Schneider said about 8,000 vehicles go through the area each day.