The dual pedestrian and bicycle paths that run through the South West Corridor are a prime example of a design that is good in theory, but is poorly implemented and does not work as it is intended. For this entry, I examined the part of the South West Corridor that runs along Columbus Avenue, past International Village, and then across Ruggles Street. This portion of the South West Corridor can be seen on Googlemaps by following the link below:
Good in Theory
The dual paths are intended to give pedestrians and bicycles separate paths to provide for safe travel through this area. The paths are clearly separated for most of the corridor by trees, grass, or medians, and both paths are wide enough to accommodate multiple users. The pictures below show examples of the good design of the paths.
|Separated Paths w/ Bikes Passing|
|Bike Entering Marked Bike Path|
|Green Space Between Paths|
The dual paths are not used as intended through this part of the corridor due to poor implementation and the misunderstanding of user preferences. The picture below is an example of the paths not being used as intended.
|Marked Dual Paths w/ PED in both paths|
|PEDs in both paths|
For the most part, bicycles stayed on the designated bicycle path. The picture below shows an example of a biker on the pedestrian path, but after further examination of the picture, one would realize that the biker chose to go onto the pedestrian path because pedestrians had completely taken over the bicycle path.
|Bicycle in PED path|
|Stanchion Hidden by Bike Rack|
|Faded Bicycle Marking|
|Faded Pedestrian Marking|
When used properly, these paths are very good at what they were intended to do, split pedestrians and bicycles onto different paths. In practice, though, the paths are not always used as intended, which almost makes them more dangerous than just having one combined path where users expect conflict. I believe that the main problems with the paths is that the outside lane should be for pedestrians and the inside lane should be for bicycles and that the paths are poorly marked. Pedestrians have a tendency to want to be as far away from traffic as possible, so they will use the path that is farthest away from traffic, even if it is not the path that they are supposed to use. The markings throughout the path are small and unnoticeable, making it easy for users to use the wrong path without knowing they are doing so.
To improve this section of the path, the paths should be switched so that the designated pedestrian path is as far from traffic as possible. The markings throughout the path also need to be improved. The markings should be larger and more noticeable, and they should be located before decision points so users have time to make a decision before it is too late. The material the paths are made from should also be held constant throughout the corridor, cement should be for pedestrians, asphalt should be for bicycles.
It should also be noted that further down the corridor, where there is less pedestrian traffic, the paths tend to be used more as they were intended to be. It is mainly at this high pedestrian volume location that the paths are not utilized as intended.