Summit County is in damage control mode – yet again. This time it’s the Jeremy Ranch Pinebrook roundabout project, and as with Kilby, safety for pedestrians and cyclists is the issue.
We think the County’s response (and design requirements) say a lot about how they think about this kind of project, and demonstrate that they’re generally clueless when it comes to building a transportation system. In a Nextdoor post about this topic, Krachel Murdock (Summit County community affairs liaison), had this to say:
“We’ve heard your questions about pedestrian and bike improvements that will be included as part of the upcoming Jeremy Ranch Roundabouts project. This project will provide full north-south connectivity – allowing pedestrians and cyclists to travel from Quarry Village to Jeremy Ranch Elementary without ever using the roads! “
Sounds fantastic, right?
Here’s the problem – most of Pinebrook all of the lower area within bike/walk distance of JRES) is zoned for Parley’s Park elementary – not Jeremy Ranch. Pretty much every resident of Jeremy, on the other hand, sends their kids to JRES. So crossing under the highway between Quarry Village and JRES is an almost useless “accommodation” for 99% of us.
Maybe a few teachers from JRES would like to hit Billy Blanco’s for a burrito and a margarita at lunch, and would love to ride their bikes to get there. Awesome. But for the hundreds of kids that live within a mile or two of JRES in Jeremy, these are literally tunnels to nowhere.
Let’s say we take the county at their word that
1) The money just isn’t there to build more tunnels
2) This project has to happen NOW, we can’t possibly wait until more funding is available.
Even given those (dubious) priors, tunnel money would be better spent crossing Homestead (access to JRES for Jeremy kids, and access to Rasmussen Path/Kimball Junction for everyone in Jeremy) and Pinebrook Road (access to Ecker MS and Kimball Junction for residents of Summit Park and Timberline). Tunnels at those locations would actually improve the usability of the system as a whole for the people who want to use it.
Of course, crossing the on/off ramps without a tunnel would be terrifying (as it is now). We should have tunnels there too! But the north-south crossing is less used and less useful to the people living in the area than east-west, so if we’re doing transportation-system triage – that’s where we should be looking.
It’s clear that no one at the county uses the paths they fund and design because even the most casual of bike riders know that most of the bike traffic from Jeremy and Pinebrook is traveling east-west, not crossing under I-80.
As a reminder – we’ll be living with this project for the next 30 years. The County says they’ll “monitor” the situation and request more funding for pedestrian and bike amenities in the future – but we all know that once the concrete is poured and the utilities are in place, there’s little chance of significant improvements going forward.
Let’s do it right. On a nice spring day, we want 100+ bikes parked at the racks at JRES – as well as a smoothly flowing morning commute through the roundabouts.
There’s a mode of failure that doesn’t involve pedestrian injuries or fatalities – it’s when we make something that frightens pedestrians so much that they give up and drive instead. Clearly, that kind of failure is perfectly acceptable to the geniuses who brought you Kilby road.