Complete Street Pops Up in Oxford

by Lindsey Abernathy, Project Coordinator | July 6, 2015

Commuters traveling to campus via University Avenue on July 1 were greeted with a new street design that included bike lanes, a crosswalk and fewer travel lanes.

Overnight, about 15 volunteers—armed with temporary tape, chalk lines and spray paint— transformed the portion of the road between the University Museum and Grove Loop. The project is Oxford’s first-ever Complete Streets pop up, a month-long experiment that will allow community members to try out a new road design, submit feedback and help city and university officials determine what works and what doesn’t.

“This portion of University Ave sees extremely heavy car traffic, foot traffic and cycling traffic,” said volunteer Jennifer Mizenko, a UM professor of theatre arts helped install the project. “It’s important that all people using this route are safe.”

Mizenko said that she hopes the Complete Streets project demonstrates that it is possible to share the road.

Complete Streets are roads designed with everyone—pedestrians, transit riders, motorists and cyclists—in mind. Incomplete streets, which are primarily designed for motorists, can discourage other forms of transportation by making it inconvenient or unsafe.

The City of Oxford Pathways Commission and the UM Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee selected University Avenue as the site for the pop up after an April 2015 transportation count found it to be a main entrance to campus for cyclists and pedestrians.

The alterations to University Avenue include:

Bicycle Lanes – The addition of two bike lanes allows cyclists to ride at their own pace while also serving as a visual reminder to motorists that bikes may be present on the road. The bike lanes also reduce the amount of cyclists riding on sidewalks.

Crosswalk – Pedestrian crosswalks provide a clearly defined space for people to cross the road and remind motorists that pedestrians are in the area.

Pedestrian Island – Pedestrian islands allow people to cross one lane of traffic at a time by providing a clearly defined space in the center of the road for pedestrians to wait for a break in traffic.

Travel Lanes – Motorists on University Avenue, which is the only four-lane entrance to campus, tend to drive in excess of 30 miles per hour, despite a speed limit of 20 miles per hour. The project decreased the amount of vehicular traffic lanes to two and narrowed them to help lower speeds and increase safety for everyone. It also added a center turning lane.

The pop up is a joint project between the Pathways Commission and the UM Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. It was funded through crowd-sourced donations, the UM Office of Sustainability and Oxford Cycling.

To learn more about the project, click here.

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