Chandler cyclists may get protection on Frye Road SanTan Sun News

Chandler cyclists may get protection on Frye Road

May 24th, 2021 STSN Staff
Chandler cyclists may get protection on Frye Road
Community
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Chandler is planning to use federal funds to redevelop a 2.5-mile section of Frye Road with additional lanes reserved for cyclists.
A $3.7-million grant could be spent on protective barriers that would physically shield cyclists from nearby motorists and pedestrians.
Preliminary designs show the special bike lanes would start near the Frye Road and Paseo Trail intersection, then proceed west before ending near San Marcos Elementary.
Ryan Peters, the city’s government relations manager, said the road redevelopment could be a major addition to Chandler’s central region and offer a safer route for the cyclists.
“This is one of those projects that could really enhance the downtown area,” Peters said.
Compared to conventional bike lanes, a protected barrier can better reduce conflicts between motorists and cyclists and provide more space for all roadway users, he said.
Cyclists would have a 6-foot-wide lane that would be buffered by a 3-foot median designed to hold desert landscaping.
Some sections of Frye Road would have a slimmer bike lane due to on-street parking located outside Frye Elementary and Willis Junior High.
Because the proposed bike lanes would be in close proximity to four Chandler Unified School District campuses, the city expects the new infrastructure to be popular among students looking for an alternative mode of transportation.
According to a survey by the city earlier this year, many parents indicated they would allow their children to bike to school if Frye Road had the barriers.
That same survey found that 64 percent of respondents ride their bike around Chandler at least once per week and some felt the city had a perceived lack of safety for cyclists.
“The majority of respondents were very supportive of the project and thought this is a great idea for many parts of the city,” said Jason Crampton, the city’s transportation planner.
Crampton said the Frye Road project would complement Chandler’s ongoing push to build more infrastructure that supports active transportation.
The city already has 350 miles of bike lanes and more projects are in the works to strengthen Chandler’s network of cycling pathways and arterials.
Residents have been wanting a new type of infrastructure that offers a greater amount of safety and accessibility, Crampton said, and the Frye Road improvements could be the first of many projects that revitalize Chandler’s path network.
Valley cities like Chandler have been attempting to prioritize safety for pedestrians and cyclists as the state’s rate for deadly car accidents has continued to remain high year after year.
More than 1,200 cyclists were injured in car accidents across Arizona in 2019, according to the state Department of Transportation, and 30 of them died as a result of their injuries.
Frye Road’s proposed protected bike lanes are being strategically positioned on a road that can connect residents with several high-traffic destinations.
The project could serve as an accessory to a piece of land located east of Frye Road that’s scheduled to be developed into a new city park in the near future.
Acting City Manager Joshua Wright said this park might include a section of its parking lot that could be designated as a “bike hub” and serve as a gateway to Paseo Trail and Frye Road’s new bike lanes.
“There’s a nice kind of functionality that occurs at that eastern end,” Wright noted.
A survey by the city last year found only 3 percent of Chandler residents rely on bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. But residents expect that rate to gradually increase over the next 20 years, as more commuters look for alternatives to their personal vehicle.
Before the pandemic, ridership in Chandler’s bus routes had been steadily rising annually and the city had begun to form new partnerships with tech companies to help transport residents lacking access to a car.
A recent contract with the ride-share company Lyft has resulted in 1,600 discounted trips for residents living in south Chandler.
Since the future of transportation will likely depend less on conventional automobiles, Chandler has spent the last few years imagining how the city should prepare for a transit system that can accommodate a wider variety of transportation options.
Studies recently done by the city recommend making more bike-friendly improvements to the region of Arizona Avenue and Pecos Road that can connect residents to high-traffic areas and the Frye Road improvements could potentially be the first step to creating a safer pathway to one of the city’s most congested areas.
The city’s elected leaders appear to be supportive of the Frye Road project and expect the city’s residents to demand for protected lanes to be built around more Chandler schools.
Councilwoman Christine Ellis appreciates how the bike lanes could feasibly allow for many young students to avoid having to walk to school during the city’s hotter months.
“What I like the most is the parents feeling comfortable enough to start sending their fifth graders with bikes to school,” Ellis said.
If approved by the city council, construction on Frye Road could begin sometime in 2022. All three phases of construction would be funded with federal dollars, plus a 5-percent matching cost the city would be responsible for.

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