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City eyeing new bus lane in Potomac Yard but nixes potential bike lane

Glebe Road and Potomac Avenue intersection (image via Google Maps)

With bus activity likely to see a significant uptick with the opening of the Potomac Yard Metro station, the city is looking at converting a turn lane on Glebe Road into a bus lane (item 5, page 8).

The plan has the dual purpose of benefitting buses and reducing the number of general-purpose lanes pedestrians have to cross.

“To support expanded bus operations and reduce the number of general purpose lanes pedestrians must cross, staff recommend converting the existing eastbound right-turn-only lane to a bus only-lane,” the report said, “and converting the existing eastbound left-turn-only lane to a left-turn and right-turn lane.”

The area has a higher-than-average number of blind pedestrians as well. The staff report said reducing the number of lanes for those pedestrians to cross could improve safety at the site.

“Currently, pedestrians must cross five lanes with limited protection from motor vehicles at the intersection of Potomac Avenue and Glebe Road,” the report said. “There is also a higher-than-average proportion of pedestrians with limited or no sight due to the proximity of the National Industries for the Blind.”

Glebe Road and Potomac Avenue intersection plans (image via City of Alexandria)

Staff said in a report that a traffic analysis estimated no change in traffic delays but could lead to more blocking of the intersection.

“Based on staff findings, there is no significant change in delay for the E. Glebe approach, and the overall intersection performs at an acceptable Level of Service grade B,” the report said. “However, it is important to note, given the proposed shared general-purpose lane on E. Glebe, the queue of vehicles stopped at the intersection is projected to extend just past the adjacent intersection at Dogue Street. This may lead to more occurrences in which vehicles block the intersection, impeding Dogue Street users.”

One of the alternatives considered included a shared bus-bike lane, but staff said adding bikes into the mix could lead to more crashes.

“Because of the expected potential conflicts between people biking, buses, and other motor vehicles as people biking inevitably attempt to maneuver around stopped buses, staff believed this option had a higher risk of crashes than other options,” the report said.

A dedicated bike lane was considered, but ultimately staff said the greater benefit would come from better transit infrastructure.

“Staff strongly considered the needs of people biking on Glebe Road but ultimately decided that the safest option, given the scope of the project, was to maintain consistent expectations for bicyclists based on conditions along the rest of the Glebe Road corridor (two shared motor vehicle/bicycle lanes),” the report said. “The staff recommendation provides a simple, single-file line for people both driving and biking, which would require no last-minute lane-changes or other maneuvering that could lead to collisions.”

The item is scheduled for review at the Monday, June 27 meeting of the Traffic and Parking Board.

Image via Google Maps

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