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City, neighborhood in accord on 'dieting' parts of Walnut, Bijou streets

April 27, 2018
       What started as a neighborhood petition has turned into a city plan to “diet” a roughly half-mile segment of Walnut Street as well as a block of Bijou between Spruce Street and Walnut.
       Also set for reconfiguration is the unusual intersection of Walnut and Bijou Street, which neighbors believe is dangerous.
       After hearing support - or at least no major objections - to such roadway changes at a public meeting attended by roughly 40 people April 24, Tim
Colorado Springs employees Tim Roberts (lead traffic engineer) and Kate Brady (bicycle planner) respond to questions from attendees at a public meeting April 24 regarding planned traffic changes to Walnut and Bijou streets, which will include bicycle accommodations. The meeting was held inside the First Wesleyan Church on Walnut.
Westside Pioneer photo
Roberts, a lead Colorado Springs traffic engineer, said that implementation is likely this year.
       Michelle Hurtado, a resident who led the petition effort, told meeting attendees she was inspired to do so after one of her family's cars was hit while parked on Walnut and later she saw a bicyclist knocked down. “I started going door to door,” she said.
       The half-mile Walnut segment is between Colorado Avenue and Boulder Street. The only traffic control along that stretch is a stop sign at Bijou Street.
       Several speakers at the meeting talked about Walnut-related traffic issues. In one exchange, a resident complained there are no signs stating that the speed limit is 30 mph on that part of Walnut. A second resident gently corrected the first, explaining that the sign on the southbound side had actually just been gone for a while, which was because it had been hit by a car and wound up in the bushes on his property. It's back up now, the second neighbor said, but added that there's never been a speed-limit sign on the northbound side.
       The prompt government response to the neighborhood traffic concerns is partly due to fortuitous timing. The Colorado-to-Boulder segment was already
A city graphic shows a cross-section of Walnut Street between Colorado Avenue and Boulder Street and how the lanes will be restriped this year. See article's bulleted text titled "Walnut from Colorado to Boulder" for details.
Westside Pioneer photo; Courtesy of Colorado Springs Traffic Engineering
scheduled for repaving this summer under the city's 2C “road tax” program, so it would need new striping anyway. It'a also identified for bicycle-related roadway changes in the new city Bicycle Master Plan, which was approved in April by City Council.
       Here are the three main projects envisoned by the city in the Walnut area, as outlined by Roberts:
  • Walnut from Colorado to Boulder - After the 2C project, it will be restriped from two lanes each way to one, with a third lane in the center and a bike lane on either side. According to Roberts, studies show that half-mile does not get enough traffic volume to justify its current two lanes each way. As a result, a lane reduction - a concept sometimes called “road dieting” - will lessen speeding, aided by the bike lanes, he said. The parking on both sides will remain.
  • Walnut/Bijou intersection - For decades, this intersection has been configured with westbound Bijou as a through street. Meanwhile, every other direction there has a
    A city graphic, looking west, shows a cross-section of Bijou Street coming up to the Walnut Street intersection and how the lanes will be restriped. For more details, see the article's bulleted text titled "Walnut/Bijou intersection" and "Bijou from Spruce to Walnut."
    Westside Pioneer photo; Courtesy of Colorado Springs Traffic Engineering
    stop sign. Adding to the “total confusion,” as one Walnut resident put it, is that double lefts are allowed for westbounders turning onto southbound Walnut, and the outer lane has the option of going straight. The new format calls for a four-way stop with just one lane allowed to turn left to go southbound (see photo/graphic on this page). The other lane can go straight or turn right (north) on Walnut. Crosswalks will be striped for pedestrians.
  • Bijou from Spruce to Walnut - This long block will be "dieted" from two lanes each way to just one through lane westbound and one eastbound. Bike lanes will be added on either side. Parking will continue to be allowed on the eastbound side. A couple of people at the meeting predicted that this lane reduction could cause backups on Bijou because of the proximity of this block to the Bijou/I-25 interchange ramps. However, Roberts said the current Bijou traffic volumes indicate otherwise.

    Westside Pioneer article
    (Transportation: Major Roads)

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