City Postpones Bus-Bike Lane for Tennessee Street

The City of Tallahassee has postponed a pilot project that would add a bus and bike lane to the existing six-lane Tennessee Street.

The city’s Long Range Community Based Planning Target Issue Committee has been developing the idea of including a hybrid lane on the one of Tennessee Street between Monroe Street and Ocala Road, in order to improve pedestrian safety.

According to Gabriel Menendez, director of the City of Tallahassee’s Public Works Department, the completion of this project has been delayed one year to allow time for community input on the project.

“The only change with this project has to do with the project schedule,” said Menedez. “Our target date for implementation has been postponed from Summer 2011 to summer of 2012 to allow staff enough time to collect and analyze the data which addresses any community concerns and ideas.”

Menendez says there have not been any focus public meetings conducted as of yet.

Student commuters make up a large portion of Tennessee Street traffic. Florida State student, Jamisha Turner, 21, said that a bus/bike lane on the busy street is a good idea. She agrees with the project being postponed for community support. “I use the bus regularly to get back and forth from school,” said the junior social work student from Wichita, Kan. “A bus and bike lane would be safer for to bus riders like myself, but it could also slow down traffic by taking two curb lanes away. I think everyone who will be affected by the change should weigh in on the issue.”

Menendez explained that the project proposes to designate Tennessee Streets’ curb lanes for bus and bicyclist commute. Additionally, he said the current street model is being reallocated to accommodate buses, bicyclists as well as drivers.

“We have a great opportunity to do a better job in serving the significant pedestrian, bicycle and transit rider population that already exists along this corridor while still being mindful of those who use automobiles for their primary transportation,” said Menendez.

Still, pedestrian safety is a primary goal of the hybrid lane project.

Heather Teter, marketing specialist for Star Metro, said the lane could limit accidents along the street and provide security for pedestrians. “By having a designated lane for bus/bike, cars going much faster than buses will not pass the bus and potentially cause accidents with other buses or bikes,” said Teter. “A designated lane will ensure the safety of customers using buses and bicycle passengers.”

Pernell Prince, 24 from Ft. Lauderdale, said that traffic on Tennessee Street is dangerous sometimes and a lane for bus riders like himself, could resolve some of the concerns. “An assigned lane is not a bad idea for this street because its gets really busy during certain hours,” said the senior creative writing student at FSU. “Even with sidewalks along the road, with people speeding up and down the road sometimes it isn’t safe.”

Menendez said that as the project evolves, community members will be informed and able to provide suggestions and opinions. “As we formalize the plan for the multi-modal district, we will provide ample opportunity for the public and other interested parties to consider the concept of converting the curb lanes on Tennessee St to bus/bike lanes.”