Waverly project making city more bike-friendly

Waverly Drive is in the process of getting the city’s first protected two-way bike lane along the stretch of road between Carroll Street and South Boulevard as part of a city plan to make Salisbury more bicycle-friendly.

But the work, which started last month and directs traffic through lines of orange barrels, has confused some motorists who have taken to social media to ask questions or complain about the work.

“Hey city of Salisbury, Maryland where are we people supposed to drive on Waverly? Whose idea was this? I’ve seen too many cars confused driving the wrong way,” Brad K. Cullen said in an Aug. 3 Facebook post.

Mayor Jake Day, who responded to Cullen’s post, said, “It does appear a bit confusing since it’s not a complete project.”

Eventually, there will be barriers to prevent cars from driving in the cycle lanes, he said.

“Once complete, it will be crystal clear just like any 2-way street,” Day said.

City officials are aware of the naysayers, but stress the work will be done soon.

“It will be a little confusing until it’s done,” said Amanda Pollack, the city’s director of Infrastructure and Development.

The new design changes the former four-way roadway into two traffic lanes, plus a buffer and two lanes for bikes known as a cycle track, she said.

For the time being, the buffer will include delineator poles and rubber zebra mounds, plus green pavement markings at intersections that will clearly define the cycle track, Pollack said.

The plan is to eventually add curbs and landscaping in the buffer, but city officials are waiting to see if the new design needs any tweaking before making permanent changes.

“You’ll see incremental changes as we learn,” said Will White, transportation project specialist with the city. “This is the first big one.”

Once Waverly Drive is completed, the city will begin similar work to create cycle tracks along Carroll and Fitzwater streets, White said. The Carroll Street project will get underway soon after this year’s National Folk Festival on Sept. 6-8. Work on Fitzwater won’t start until after sewer main work there is completed.

Eventually, the bike routes on all three streets will be linked, he said.

The work is part of the city’s plan to create a network of bicycle routes to safely and easily link residential neighborhoods to shopping and recreation areas.

The Salisbury Bicycle Network Plan was adopted in 2016 to offer an alternative mode of transportation, improve public health and to promote Salisbury as a cycling destination.

The designated routes in the plan eventually will link up with areas outside city limits.

The work along Waverly also fits in with the city’s recently adopted Vision Zero program that prioritizes safety over speed, White said. First adopted in Sweden in the 1990s, the program significantly reduced crashes and improved pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The program has since spread across Europe and is now being adopted in U.S. cities.

City officials clocked speeds of 40 mph to 45 mph along Waverly Drive prior to the changes, but since it has been narrowed, drivers are averaging 20 mph to 22 mph – speeds that are considered survivable for pedestrians.

“This is a bicycle project, but it’s for safety as well,” Pollack said.

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