Collister Drive Walk Audit

Today, Collister Dr feels like a dividing line, splitting our neighborhood in two, but this road is meant to connect kids to schools, residents to amenities and to each other. While I recognize the history of past sidewalk battles, it’s time to move forward together and create a new vision for this road. Step #1: Walk Audit!

This summer, eleven neighbors representing residents who live along Collister DR as well as east and west of Collister DR gathered to walk together with complete streets expert, Deanna Smith. The purpose behind the walk was to begin to develop shared vision for the street and to openly share all perspectives and listen to all perspectives.

Objectives:

  • Explore the street from diverse perspectives
  • Observe the conditions and behaviors on the street
  • Identify what’s working well and what is not working so well
  • Identify desired outcomes and where there is not agreement for outcomes
  • Identify areas that need further conversation to reach agreed upon solutions
  • Learn about design and best practices to improve comfort and safety

Questions asked:

Condition:
  • Is there a sidewalk/footpath/shoulder?
  • Was it smooth/clear/cars in the way?
  • Is there parking along the street?
  • Is there a bike facility or do bikes share the lane with cars?
  • Is there is a transit route? What transit facilities are provided?
  • Were there places to cross? How frequent do crossings occur along the corridor? Do they access bus stops?
  • Was there any lighting?
Comfort and Safety:
  • Was it comfortable? Did you feel safe? How easy was it to walk here?
  • Could drivers see you?
  • What would have made the walk more comfortable?
  • Would you have felt safe crossing the street?
  • Did you see other people walking/biking? Where were they walking/biking?
  • Would you want to bike here?
Ideas and opportunities:
  • What did you like best about walking here?
  • What changes would you want to make if you could?

Section 1: Bloom to John’s Landing:

This is one of the only sections with sidewalks on both sides of the street. Although walkers found the sidewalks to be comfortable, they found the walk lacking visual interest and most agreed that trees/additional barriers between the car path and the bike/ped path would make this more comfortable.

Both the Bloom and John’s Landing intersections are heavily used, but no crosswalks are marked. The west side of the street has ample parking, though it is not heavily used as houses don’t face out to Collister on the west side. It was also noted that trees/shrubs had overgrown the sidewalk.

Section 2: John’s Landing to Hill:

With the absence of sidewalks, we walked in the shoulder. Walkers noted that the shoulder became noticeably wider after Shirley (7.5 ft vs 9.5 ft). We also measured the roadway at 11.5 ft. Though walkers generally felt comfortable walking in the wide shoulders, many obstructions were noted (trash cans, parked cars, trailers, etc) which forced walkers into the roadway.

On the day we walked, there was a road closed sign at the Hill/Collister intersection, this meant we saw far fewer cars. Walkers noted that the big trees on the west side of the street made this section nice to walk, and felt more like a neighborhood. Again, this section has no designed crosswalks. Walkers noted several bus stops with no place to sit and access challenges, including one having a gravel access. One question that came up, do the double yellow lines make people less likely to give room to pass?

Section 3: Hill to Shirley:

This section again has no sidewalk, but the shoulder is wide and most noted feeling comfortable in the shoulder. There is parking along the street. Two walkers noted that the cars felt like they were going very fast when they passed, although that could be because we were now walking against the flow of traffic on this section. Again there were no designated crosswalks in this section and one walker noted that while it felt safe to cross while traffic was light (construction road closures could be playing into this), the walker would not feel okay with kids crossing this street.

Section 4: Shirley to Catalpa:

This was one of the most impactful and helpful stops we made as a group. In the above photo, Deanna is illustrating where the car would need to stop in order to have line of sight to turn onto Collister. On the right side of the picture you can see the line painted on the roadway showing where cars are supposed to stop in order to allow pedestrians to cross from the sidewalk section (lower right). This adds confusion to both the cars and pedestrians/bikers to know where to stop for best visibility and crossing.

This section had two distinct conditions. The section from Shirley to Clearview and Bloom to Catalpa have no sidewalks with narrow shoulders and the shoulders were used for parking. While the section from Clearview to Bloom was WIDE with an 11.5 ft road, 12.5 ft shoulder and 5.5 ft sidewalk.

Many of the t-insections along this stretch suffer from bad sight lines with the stop sign back far too far to be able to view oncoming traffic. Many walkers noted that a stop sign at the John’s Landing t-intersection might be a nice addition to slow down the cars as they come down the hill. This would also add another much needed designated crosswalk, as this section again has none.

Section 5: Catalpa to State:

This section had some sidewalks, behind parked cars. There were also sections without sidewalks and with a narrow shoulder, measuring 5.5 ft in sections. Walkers noted quite a few obstructions in the shoulder; parked cars, trash cans, etc.

This section has our only designated crosswalk at the Catalpa intersection. As you can see in the above picture though, this sidewalk did not feel very protected, note the tire treads up onto the curb. One walker noted that it did not seem like it was easy for drivers to see us as we walked and suggested curb bulb outs to help make walkers feel more comfortable and visible.

Section 5: New intersection at Collister and State:

On our way to State street, we walked through some of the new conditions that were under construction. In the above photo, walkers noted the change to walking conditions in front of the Good Samaritan home. As you can see in the bottom right side of the photo, the old, straight sidewalk has been removed and now meets the new sidewalk with a curving angle. Walkers noted that this angle felt very tight and mentioned that users of this sidewalk, with assistive walking devices or adults towing a bike trailer, might have a hard time navigating this tight turn.

Board members emailed ACHD to request a modification and were told the sidewalk adjacent to Good Samaritan is “actually on private property and is intended only to be a connection from the private property to the public sidewalk and not the main thoroughfare. We are currently working with our District Engineer to see if there is a small modification that can be made at the connection points to make the transition a little more smooth within ACHD right-of-way.”

Another condition that was noted was the missing sidewalk connection leading into the shopping center. Previously you could enter the shopping center on the sidewalk adjacent to the corner store (now Caffeina), but with the addition of the outdoor seating area, that connection no longer exists. Sidewalk users hoping to enter the shopping center must now turn into the shopping center using the roadway (in the above photo) and mount the shopping center sidewalk on the other side of the stop sign (where our walkers are standing in the photo below).

There is a stone step that has been added near where the road sidewalk could connect with the shopping center sidewalk, but it is not accessible for wheeled travelers and requires a step up to access. Board members emailed ACHD regarding this issue and received the following response, “We already have a plan in place to connect the sidewalk leading into the Collister Shopping Center so that you will not have to use the parking lot as access.”

Overall Concerns:

  • Lack of designated crossings
  • T-intersections not lined up for appropriate line of sight
  • If we are to use shoulders for walking, shoulders are not maintained like sidewalks (snow plows for example)
  • Turning radii at the top of Hill (west side)
  • Remove double yellow lines so it looks more like a neighborhood street

Overall Feelings:

  • Roadway should be more of a recreation space, a place where the people who live along it could meet, hang and talk
  • Right now it feels like boundary or barrier, it should connect our neighborhood
  • While the shoulders are accommodating, they left us feeling exposed due to the number and speed of the cars
  • It would be interesting to have a speed study: by section and by direction
  • Inconsistency abounds throughout the street