Bike Friendly Richardson

We’d Like To Address A Small Gap In The Central Trail Plan

Posted in Bike Trails and Routes, City Stuff by dickdavid on December 30, 2010
Trail End

Here's Where The Good Trail Ends

We are very fortunate to have such an aggressive Bike and Pedestrian Plan in Richardson. The city planners are doing a great job retrofitting some new trails and bike lanes into an older, built-out infrastructure.

In that plan is the Central Trail, which will provide passage through Richardson. When completed, it will run through the central part of town, along the DART Rail Red Line, giving us, and all of our northern neighbors, a nice connection to the Dallas trail network.

Earlier this month, the City of Richardson presented the first draft of their plan to continue the Central Trail further south. Right now, the only existing part runs from Renner Road (patched through the Spring Creek Trail until it connects at Glenville Drive) to Arapaho Road. The new plan shows how the trail will continue from Arapaho Road, south towards Buckingham Road.

Although it’s a great plan, we feel that there are usability gaps within the existing part of the Central Trail that should be addressed as well. The following is our evaluation of the the part just south of Campbell Road and how we think it can be improved.

If you’ve walked or biked this part of the trail, you’ll be familiar with our references. Technically, the trail is complete from Campbell Road to Arapaho Road, which is why this section is not in the current extension plan. The concerns we have are with some minor aesthetics as well as some issues with usability that hinder the trail from being a complete success.

See The Rough Parts Of The Existing Trail

First, the minor aesthetics. About a third of a mile south from Campbell Road, you’ll note that the nicely paved trail ends. From there it becomes rough, narrow and overgrown with grass. This rough patch continues across and down the east side of Greenville Avenue until it reaches the Tecktronics parking lot at Collins Boulevard.

Rough Trail

Rough Part Of The Trail

We realize that this is nitpicking, but if the City is spending the money to continue the trail, they should look into completing the trail experience by matching the rest of the trail.

Next is trail usability. Because of limited real estate next to the DART tracks, you can see why the trail jumps to the other side of Greenville Avenue. Since this trail leads to the DART Arapaho Station entrance, which is on the east side of Greenville Avenue, we’re okay with that. Considering the limitations in the existing infrastructure, we also understand how the trail runs narrow in some parts.

East Side Greenville at Woodall Facing South

Trail - a.k.a. Sidewalk Just South Of Woodall Drive

Our bigger concern is when the trail passes just south of the Arapaho DART Rail station. After the trail crosses Woodall Drive, it becomes a glorified sidewalk all the way to Arapaho Road. Here it’s too narrow for multi-use traffic. To make this worse, the shrubs along this part of the trail are overgrown and blocking even more space. In our opinion, this becomes a gap in the trail plan.

Since the current plan to continue the Central Trail south from Arapaho Road starts on the WEST side of Greenville Avenue, perhaps we should look at crossing Greenville at Woodall Drive instead of Arapaho Road. This makes sense for a few reasons.

Click To See Our Suggested Solution

Let’s talk space. As mentioned, the limitations of real estate made sense to pull the trail to the east side of Greenville Avenue. This becomes less true at Woodall Drive. There is actually more space on the west side of Greenville Avenue at this point — plenty of space for a wider trail.

West Side Greenville Facing South

Wider West Side Of Greenville

Let’s talk convenience. If you put a crossing at Woodall Drive and continue the trail from there, connecting the new new addition of the Central Trail (which is planned to start on the west side of Greenville Avenue) becomes more seamless.

Let’s talk safety. The current plan is to get trail traffic to cross the intersection at Greenville Avenue on the north side of Arapaho Road, and then cross Arapaho Road on the west side of Greenville Avenue. From experience, we know this to be an extremely busy intersection with lots of auto traffic coming from multiple directions. We feel that reducing the crossings at this intersections to just one would help with safety.

We realize that putting a crossing on Greenville Avenue, at Woodall Drive – an intersection not protected by traffic lights – might seem less safe. However,  the trail already crosses Greenville Avenue – further north at Alma Road – under the same traffic conditions. If it’s safe enough at Alma Road, why not at Woodall Drive. In fact, we feel it’s easier for crossers to watch for auto traffic in just two directions instead of the many at Arapaho Road.

Greenville Crossing West Side Greenville

Trail Crossing Greenville Avenue at Alma Road

Of course, this is all based on seat-of-our-pants, traveled experience on this trail and we haven’t pulled any statistical data that supports this as a better solution. We’d love to hear what you think about this. IF you’ve been on this part of the Central Trail, we’d like to hear your opinion on our solution and/or what you would do differently.

Click here to see a map.

Click here to see more shots.

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13 Responses

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  1. […] We’d Like To Address A Small Gap In The Central Trail Plan from Bike Friendly Richardson by dickdavid We are very fortunate to have such an aggressive Bike and Pedestrian Plan in Richardson. The city planners are doing a great job retrofitting some new trails and bike lanes into an older, built-out infrastructure. In that plan is the Central Trail, which will provide passage through Richardson. When completed, it will… […]

  2. Gabe said, on December 31, 2010 at 2:01 am

    I’ve bike up to East side several times from the south, sometimes using the trail and sometimes continuing on Alma from the Grove bike lane. My thought is that southbound Greenville, at that point, is never busy enough to need three lanes.

    Why not create a bike lane from there (so you don’t have to make that weird S turn) until Arapaho. Bikes can then get back on the off-street trail south of Arapaho.

    Thanks for posting on this issue.

  3. Howard Maher said, on January 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Is there just not enough room to keep going south on the west side of Greenville?

    I’ve never looked that closely at it, but I think the weird ‘s’ turn is just, well, weird… I wish that the folks that plan this stuff tried riding this on a tandem for a bit and they’d see how difficult that can be!

    The problem as I see it on the east side of Greenville all along that stretch is from turning traffic… My wife and I occasionally ride up that way and I yearn for the west side where we could ride uninterrupted from Arapaho to Campbell with the one break being at Collins where they allow cross traffic to get on the Central access road… there might be a driveway close to Arapaho, but anything would be better than the east side…

    I’m not sure that there couldn’t be an adequately fenced off area along the Dart train line that wouldn’t solve all the problems…. Maybe not chain link but some other shielding that would allow train and bike path to co-exist, thus providing bridging, etc., all along there… Something that would make a speeding train less scary, but still utilize the infrastructure without doubling the cost.

    • dickdavid said, on January 3, 2011 at 9:15 am

      I agree that keeping the trail on the west side would be better, but there really isn’t room. I double checked on my ride, the other day.

      I also wouldn’t mind an Arapaho station entrance on the west side as well (with a ticket station). Oh well.

  4. Adam said, on January 3, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I think I agree with you about crossing Greenville at Woodall (in terms of it being safer)…at least in practice. However, current traffic engineering theory argues otherwise (i.e., “it’s always safer to cross at a signalized intersection”…and it’s difficult for the City to go against that.

    As far as just continuing the trail on the east side of Greenville, this would be ideal, but there are some issues. First, AASHTO requires a minimum 2′ shoulder on each side of a trail (3′ is ideal). So even for a 10′ trail, you need 14′ of clear, obstruction-free space. Otherwise, you have to put railing up on whichever side doesn’t have the shoulder (which would be as expensive, or more expensive, as the trail itself). I think the other challenge is going under the KCS railway south of Collins. I think there are big support piers between the DART line and Greenville that would prohibit putting a trail there.

    Disclaimer: this is all from my memory of the area and google maps…so I could be wrong.

    • dickdavid said, on January 3, 2011 at 9:09 am

      I hear you about the engineering theory, but it was worth throwing it out there. You never know if somebody is reading and actually checks it out.

      You are right about the west side of Greenville. It would be ideal, but there just isn’t any room.

      • Adam said, on January 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm

        My point is that theory is just theory. I think the Woodall crossing is worth exploring because it might in fact be safer (even though some wouldn’t think so at first glance).

        Based on the traffic counts, a crossing at Woodall would meet FHWA guidelines if the City A) lowered the speed limit from 40mph to 35mph or B) added signals (e.g., flashing beacons). Of course, the northern crossing near Alma exists in the exact same conditions and is not signalized.

  5. bergerandfries said, on January 15, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I’ve ridden this maybe 10 times? When the trail peters out southbound, I just hop onto Greenville and head on down to Arapaho at that point. The trail gets me from the busy part of Campbell south, so when I reach that point where the west side trail ends, I’m satisfied I’m in a reasonably light traffic area.

    Is the objective to not touch the road AT ALL? I think that’s a bit unrealistic, at least at first. I’d MUCH rather see other, more congested areas separate bicycle infrastructure before this section of Greenville…

    • dickdavid said, on January 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      I usually jump on Greenville as well. I believe the goal is to complete a multi-use “trail” which would imply separate from the roads, except when a crossing is needed.

  6. […] north. So far, it’s just a narrow sidewalk and there are no plans to re-route or widen it. Click here to see our post on […]

  7. […] We are extremely excited that this is happening and we’d still like to see the small gap in the plan addressed. […]

  8. […] Central Trail is the trail that runs parallel to Central Expressway, along the DART Rail Red Line tracks. Currently, it starts at Renner Road at Routh Creek Parkway (where it connects to the Spring Creek Trail), and runs south to DART’s Arapaho Center Station – well, sort of. In our opinion, it really stops at about Alma Road, and becomes a sidewalk, along Greenville, until it reaches Arapaho Center Station. Read more about that here. […]

  9. […] a new addition to the Central Trail south – trail construction NORTH of Arapaho. You may remember us pointing out the ‘gap’ in the original plans for the trail extension, back in 2010. […]

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