A new bike and skateboard dismount zone being installed along “Engine Alley” aims to make one of the busiest pedestrian corridors on campus safer.
The new dismount zone will begin in the plaza between the University Theatre and Museum Collections building, running straight east all the way to 18th Street between the Ketchum and ATLAS buildings. The zone will continue east of 18th Street through the breezeway that connects JILA and Duane Physics before terminating in the courtyard on the east side of the breezeway.
The Pedestrian Safety Committee, which includes representation from a wide variety of campus stakeholders, is spearheading the initiative.
All signage for the new dismount zone is expected to be in place by Thursday, Aug. 10. The installation coincides with another Pedestrian Safety Committee project, the addition of painted bike and pedestrian lanes to formalize a north-south cross-campus link to the city’s bikeway network. The new lanes will run from Fiske Planetarium all the way to the intersection of Colorado Avenue and Folsom Street.
“We’ll be studying accident and near-miss data related to both of these pilot programs to gauge their effectiveness in reducing incidents,” said Tom McGann, CU Boulder director of Parking and Transportation Services and chairman of the Pedestrian Safety Committee. “If successful, the hope is that similar high-traffic areas around campus could be addressed to not only increase safety for pedestrians, cyclists and skateboarders, but also to create more efficient, dedicated routes through campus for cyclists.”
During the school year, Engine Alley is one of the main east-west pedestrian passageways through campus, particularly during class-change periods. The new dismount zone will be marked by signs, as well as distinctive graphics on the ground.
The idea of the Engine Alley dismount zone is one that resonated with the campus community in a survey conducted by the student-led Environmental Center last spring. Perhaps not surprisingly, 72 percent of pedestrians surveyed supported installation of a dismount zone for the area. But an even greater proportion of cyclists and skateboarders, 82 percent, said they’d support implementation of a dismount zone.
The university has worked with city transportation officials to incorporate graphics on campus that are similar to those used in city dismount zones to help make adoption easier for all. Campus and city officials also collaborated on the north-south bike route, as both look to create safer pathways through and around campus.
Melissa Zak, CU Boulder assistant vice chancellor of safety, said a culture of common courtesy and awareness among cyclists, skateboarders and pedestrians alike will go a long way in bolstering the success of the dismount zone and features like the north-south bikeway. For cyclists, that might mean acknowledging the shortest route through campus isn’t always the fastest route, and that multiuse paths or streets are often more efficient. For pedestrians, meanwhile, that can mean being aware of others on sidewalks and avoiding walking three or four people abreast down a given path.
“Pedestrian and bicycle safety can improve on all parts of campus if we all simply make the commitment to be cognizant of, and caring for, those around us,” Zak said.