By Jim Stanford on March 29, 2012
Last week the town held an open house at Center for the Arts to gather public input on a proposed redesign of South Cache Drive.
The $1.4 million reconstruction would add or improve sidewalks on Cache between Snow King and Pearl avenues. Work is slated to begin next year.
In the wake of the reconstruction of Redmond Street, which significantly narrowed the roadway, residents turned out in force to criticize the plan. As a starting point for discussion, town engineers presented a preliminary design for the sort of “Complete Streets” favored by Friends of Pathways.
Around midday, when I stopped by, comments were running about 3-to-1 against narrowing the road. Nearly everyone seemed to agree that the “bulb-out” pedestrian crossings have to go. Not only have they made Redmond a tight squeeze at intersections, but pedestrians tend not to use them as designed, an engineer told me. At least one resident called for a stop sign at Kelly and Cache.
The preliminary plan calls for an 8-foot-wide sidewalk, buffered with a strip of trees by the curb, on both sides of the street. Parking would be preserved on both sides, meaning there would not be room for bike lanes.
It is an attractive design, aimed at making Cache the type of pedestrian commercial corridor envisioned in the Comprehensive Plan. But I’m not sure it meets the realities of Wyoming winter.
Wide streets are nice, not just for motorists but also pedestrians forced to walk in the road when thaws inevitably turn sidewalks into a mess of slush and ice. And why not give bikes a little more room, too?
I supported FoP’s plan for Redmond Street, but once it was finished, I couldn’t help but feel a little buyer’s remorse. Sometimes these proposals sound better in the abstract. Upon seeing how narrow the road had become, it was hard not to think maybe we overreached. To be fair, I want to give Redmond a full summer to see how it feels, for biking and driving, and recently I did pedal its length and found it acceptable.
Advocates say a narrower road will slow down vehicles and make the street safer for bicyclists, but I’m not so sure. This week’s rollover accident on Redmond, pictured on the front page of the Daily, will do little to quell critics’ ire.
Perhaps we could live with a grand boulevard-type sidewalk on one side of Cache, and a passable sidewalk on the other, leaving more room for cars, bikes and walkers to coexist.