Week 10: Pop-Up Project Aims to Reduce Speed

Oxford Pathways Commission discussed recent updates to their “pop-up project” to reduce speed on Gertrude Ford Boulevard, including the installation of bollards and potential crosswalks.

“When Pathways was looking for a location for a pop-up project, we thought Gertrude Ford was perfect since it had a high incidence of pedestrian and motorist interaction,” Don Feitel, Chair of the Pathways Commission, said during the commission’s monthly meeting on Monday.

In April, bollards, which are frequently used to temporarily change traffic patterns, were installed along a 2,063-foot segment of the road. These bollards were placed on what would be the white line for bike lanes to perceptually narrow driving lanes, thus reducing speed.

Before the pop-up project, the 85th percentile showed that the average speed for driving down Gertrude Ford was 43 miles per hour, which is 13 miles over the speed limit. Another study was conducted in August and showed that the 85th percentile decreased to 38 miles per hour.

“This is a huge improvement,” Kate Kellum, vice chair for Pathways Commission, said.

With the addition of this project, Pathways has been able to reduce the average speed by 5 miles per hour without having to make any changes to the road width.

Feitel said that these temporary treatments allow them to test traffic patterns before the city decides to change things, which is usually more permanent and harder to change later.

“What our data shows is that we can affect the speed on the road using simple changes, but that there might be a limit to how much we can calm traffic with those methods alone,” Feitel said.

Because the University is continuing to expand, having these limited-time demonstrations are great ways to ensure safety in bikers, drivers and runners.

“We continue to work with public works to figure out what other changes could be made that would be in the interests of all users,” Feitel said.

Feitel and the rest of the board are currently developing more ways in which Pathways and the city can continue to reduce the speed to its intended speed limit.

“If we want to work on how people get to the crosswalks then we’ll need help from the University,” Feitel said. “If we want to change the road design any more then we’ll need permission from the City.”

Whatever further actions take place, Pathways wants to ensure safety among all of the road’s users.

In addition to the bollards, Feitel said that another issue along Gertrude Ford is the crosswalks.

“For the most part, there are only a few areas along that road that people are encouraged to walk,” Feitel said.

“As a runner, that’s just a really bad intersection. People have learned to avoid that crosswalk,” Meghin Burke, board member, said.

Because Gertrude Ford connects to Jackson Avenue, Pathways doesn’t want to impose on the overflow traffic coming from there.

Another idea Pathways is considering is the addition of a fence or some type of barrier along the road, similar to the one at Nutt Auditorium; however, that would have to be done by the university.

“We are going to explore other ideas that might require help from the University but that we feel will increase the safety for students and others who regularly cross Gertrude Ford,” Feitel said. “It really will take everyone working together to form something that is functional for everyone.”

Pathways Commission will have its next meeting on Monday, November 26 at 5 pm.

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