When it comes to the Regional Transportation Authority, it’s not just about roads. The RTA is partnering with member jurisdictions on bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements as well, in order to continue its commitment to a multimodal regional transportation system.
These improvements are included in every roadway corridor project, but many also are constructed independently of the larger projects because the RTA plan set aside a pool of funding dedicated for these improvements. The bike and pedestrian projects generally fall into two categories of the RTA plan, either the safety element, or the environmental and economic vitality element, both of which provide dedicated funding to improve or expand bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
For example, the City of Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility constructed two bicycle boulevards on Arcadia between Grant Road and Eastland Street, and Timrod/Winsett between Alvernon and Craycroft. One of the key features remaining to be constructed is a High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) crossing at the Arcadia and Grant intersection which will improve the ease and safety of those accessing the route on the north end and crossing Grant Road.
Another bike boulevard that will be starting construction shortly is on Treat Avenue from the Rillito River on the north end to Barraza-Aviation Parkway on the south.
As part of the overall improvements, a bicycle HAWK at Glenn and Treat has recently been installed and is now active. Bike HAWKS differ from standard HAWK crossings in that, even though they can be used by riders and pedestrians, they are designed to make it easier and more intuitive for cyclists to cross a roadway safely:
- The button to cross is at bicycle level and accessible from the seat of a bike.
- Pavement markings direct cyclists to stay on the bike and ride through the intersection, as opposed to dismounting and walking across the crosswalk.
- Barriers are installed to protect a cyclist through the transition zones on each side of the through street.
The bicycle HAWK at Glenn and Treat is solar-powered (as shown in the photo). It’s one of the first solar-powered crossings in the city, and it will enhance users’ safety, while operating in a sustainable manner.
Several other projects are being designed for future installation, including bike lanes on Church Street, and bike boulevards on Ninth/Eighth streets, Ninth Avenue/Castro Avenue, and on Fifth Street west of the University of Arizona. Those are expected to begin construction in 2023.
The RTA also is a funding partner in a new La Cañada pathway project, which will construct a new multiuse path between Lambert and Naranja.
This wide variety of bike and pedestrian projects are examples of how the RTA typically works as a partner with other agencies to maximize the regional and local funding sources and help accomplish regional transportation improvements.
By providing a flexible funding source to support priorities throughout the region, the RTA can help address a wide variety of needs when they are identified.