There’s a lot going on at any given time on Boulder’s 300-mile street system. Arterial roadways, local streets, bikes, buses, pedestrians, cars – all the time, all at once. Naturally, conflicts and questions are bound to come up.
Whether it’s an issue with a specific street corner or confusion around project timelines, Boulder Reporting Lab has gotten lots of questions from readers about some of the current traffic projects going on around Boulder, or issues they’ve seen in the city’s transportation system.
Related: Boulder’s transportation master plan is designed to make the city safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Here are 9 projects to look for this year.
Here’s what we’ve found out about the questions you’ve asked us.
Why did the city put in a “chicane” traffic speed mitigation measure on Quince Avenue near 19th Street, forcing traffic into a one-lane situation?
A chicane is a curved section of road where the street is reduced to one lane, forcing cars to slow down and yield to oncoming traffic. They’re fairly new to Boulder, and have been implemented in a few places (including Quince Avenue) under the Vision Zero Innovation Program, in part because they’re typically cheaper and quicker to install than speed humps and other speed management solutions.
To create their chicanes, the city uses white traffic posts. This allows bikers and pedestrians to pass around lanes used by cars, giving them more protection.
Chicanes may be jarring to drivers navigating them for the first time. So traffic signs are posted next to and in the chicane on Quince Avenue to help drivers understand when they need to yield.
“Our intent with [the chicane] was that vehicles would need to be patient and yield not only to other oncoming vehicles, but also to any pedestrians or cyclists who may have already entered the chicane,” Devin Joslin, Boulder’s principal traffic engineer, told us.
The city said it has been responding to concerns around the chicanes and will continue to evaluate their effectiveness and safety. “We had a walk-through with some of the residents on the corridor [in March 2022], on Quince Avenue to take a closer look at it and explore firsthand the challenges they’ve been experiencing with it,” Joslin said. “So we are going to take all that in consideration as we’re doing our more thorough evaluation”
Cars seem to be frequently going 40 or 50 mph in areas with a 20 or 30 mph speed limit. What is the city doing to enforce speed limits?
The Boulder Police Department’s public information officer, Dionne Waugh, told us that speeding is one of the two biggest causes of crashes in the city — the other being left-hand turns. So they recognize the concern. The department’s traffic focus is on high-crash intersections and community complaints, Waugh said. She encourages residents to reach out about speeding through its non-emergency line (303-441-3300), or under the transportation category on Inquire Boulder.
Sergeant Robyn Vanderleest of the Boulder Police Department’s traffic unit said they rely on these tips.
“Sometimes we don’t know there’s an issue,” Vanderleest said in an interview, when asked about community speeding concerns. “Obviously, there’s several thousand roadways in the city of Boulder and we’re doing our best to address speed and careless driving on all of those roadways. So it’s possible we don’t know what they know and if they’ll take a minute to give us a call and get us any information, we’re more than happy to address it.”
Contacting the city’s transportation department through the Neighborhood Speed Management (NSMP) page is another option for filing complaints.
The police department oversees a fleet of three photo radar vans that can be deployed on local streets where complaints through NSMP have been made. After they receive a complaint, the transportation department does a speed study and analysis and works with the police department to find the best place to deploy a van.
Why does the pedestrian crossing at Table Mesa Drive and Yale Road only have flashing lights on one side of the parkway?
Since there is a median separating the east and westbound sides of Table Mesa Drive, the city treats each side as a different road, and thus evaluates each pedestrian crossing separately.
On the eastbound side of the Table Mesa parkway, pedestrians have to cross two travel lanes and a turn lane. By contrast, the westbound side only has one travel lane to cross. A rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) – a special pedestrian crossing that includes lights on the yield sign – is used on the eastbound side to ensure that traffic in all of the lanes can see when a pedestrian is crossing the street and will yield.
This reduces what is referred to as a “dual threat,” where cars in one lane yield to pedestrians and those in the other lane do not.
What’s the status of the North Broadway road construction? Are businesses being affected?
The North Broadway Reconstruction project is intended to improve the pavement on Broadway between Violet Avenue and Highway 36 to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
The scope of the project is large and includes: replacing asphalt pavement with concrete, adding a raised bike lane, installing a multi-use path on the west side of Broadway, upgrading pedestrian and transit stops, constructing a drainageway underpass for Fourmile Canyon Creek, installing a new traffic signal at Broadway and Yarmouth Avenue and burying electric lines that run along Broadway.
Construction began in spring of 2021. It was initially expected to finish before 2023, but has been running behind schedule due to this year’s winter weather, according to Brian Wiltshire, a project manager for Boulder’s Public Works Department. The burying of electric lines is the next part of the project expected to be completed. Wiltshire said the public can expect to see the overhead lines coming down soon. Landscaping and bike lane improvements may require work into the beginning of 2023, Wiltshire said.
Starting April 1, 2022, construction shifted to the east side of Broadway, and parking has been removed on that side of the street. While recognizing the short-term impacts of this to local businesses, city staff expect the improvements to help in the long-run.
“What we’ve seen in the past is that when there’s a significant investment in the infrastructure and facilities for bike lanes and enhancements of the roadway section, it really becomes an attractive place,” Wiltshire said. “And so all the businesses that are along here will really see a lot more bicycle traffic and foot traffic and it will just be a really inviting place to be.”
For pedestrians or cyclists who use this stretch of Broadway, the city’s project page provides a map of alternative routes to avoid construction. Cyclists are allowed to take up the entire lane on Broadway through the construction.
How can residents report bad road conditions?
If you notice a pothole on the road surface in Boulder, the city has a webpage to report potholes so they can be filled. If you or your property has been damaged by a pothole on a road managed by the city, the transportation maintenance page on the city’s website also has instructions to file a notice of claim for damages.
Got a transportation question you need answered? Email us.