Bike Friendly Richardson

The Collins Street Bridge

Posted in Bike Trails and Routes, City Stuff by Adam on May 17, 2011

The Collins Street Bridge is a popular way for cyclists to cross Central Expressway, partly because it has a relatively low amount of auto traffic compared to Spring Valley, Belt Line, Arapaho, Campbell, and Renner (Richardson Traffic Count Map).  However, it is not perfect.  The biggest problem is that many motorists tend to drive well above the speed limit when crossing the bridge and, as with other roads that cross Central Expressway, the sun in the morning and evening can be blinding (this is believed to be a factor in the death of Anthony Mungioloi on Arapaho Road in 2009).

For the last few months, since mid- to late-March, the outside lanes of the bridge have been closed as the City has been making some repairs.  I cross this bridge on a daily basis by bike or by car (by car more often than I’d like to admit) and I haven’t noticed any negative impacts to traffic.  In fact, I would wager that traffic flow has actually improved.  Motorists seem to have slowed down (though are still able to travel at the speed limit) while cyclists have been able to ride in the “closed” outside lane, getting out of the flow of traffic.

There have been many discussions in the past (and quite recently) about improving the Collins Street Bridge for bicycle / pedestrian use.  The Richardson Parks, Recreation, & Transportation Trail-Way Master Plan shows the Collins Street Bridge as accommodating a “Potential Bicycle Lane” and a “Future Multi-Use Trail.”  Funding for the provision of sidewalks and a trail along this bridge has also been discussed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (bottom of the last page of this table), but has not yet been funded.

I think that the current construction and subsequent closure of two lanes proves that the Collin Street Bridge does not need to have four lanes for cars.  It appears to function just as well, if not better, with two vehicular lanes.  In fact, I think that the City should not re-open those outside lanes when the repair work on the bridge is completed.  Instead, I believe they should be striped as buffered bike lanes in order to provide a safe crossing of Central Expressway.  The City has been very proactive in restriping some 4-lane roads to have two travel lanes for cars and two bike/parking lanes.  However, it is very important that any bike lanes added to Collins Street (either on the bridge or off) be either buffered bike lanes or 5-6′ wide traditional bike lanes.  The reason for this is that simply redesignating the outside lane for bikes will not preclude motorists from driving in that lane.

With construction nearing an end, the Collins Street Bridge will once again have four lanes for cars and none specifically for bikes.  As the recent construction has shown us, this bridge can operate effectively with only two vehicular lanes.  Let’s take this opportunity now that motorists have become used to having only two lanes and make this bridge a safe crossing for cyclists.

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9 Responses

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  1. bikinhowd said, on May 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    I couldn’t agree more emphatically with your stance, Richard! I don’t know if this would have saved Anthony’s life, but it certainly would have given him more options for getting across Central… My daily commute used to take me west on Collins from Plano Road, and I would have loved to have used the Collins Street Bridge. It just got too dangerous in my estimation, so I diverted to crossing at Campbell, which, though safer, wasn’t much better… Fortunately, my daily commute now takes me to Plano, and I will soon have a new bike path going under Renner and Central that will take me to Alma & George Bush… But, I still go west on weekend rides, and a decent bike bridge would really be appreciated!

    • dickdavid said, on May 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm

      I don’t think Adam was implying that a bike lane would have made a difference in Anthony’s situation, but rather articulating some of the issues cyclists and commuters deal with daily, like excessive speed and bad lighting conditions.

  2. stuart said, on May 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Sounds like a good idea but how would you manage the transitions? Collins is six lanes on either side of the bridge.

    • dickdavid said, on May 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      That’s a great point that the city designers will need to address. For now, Dave Carter added this on the BFR Facebook page:

      “FWIW we are working on the design for a “road diet” accross this bridge. The plan will include widening out the sidewalk areas, adding pedestrian ADA ramps at both ends, and only maintaining 1 wide travel lane in both directions. Since a bike lane is ultimately planned on Collins on both sides of this bridge we may stipe the wide lane as buffer seperated as you suggested. However, until the rest of the bike lane is stripped along Collins from Plano Road all the way upto Campbell, we may just leave it as a 15 foot wide sharrow lane. More to come…..”

    • Adam said, on May 18, 2011 at 9:16 am

      If you look at that link to the City traffic volume map, you’ll see that between Campbell and Plano Road, Collins only carries 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles per day. I can’t tell which range of that spectrum the actual traffic volumes on Collins fall in, nor can I tell what the peak hour volumes are. But unless the peak volumes are a ridiculously high percentage of the overall 24 hour traffic volumes, 4 lanes should be able to easily handle that traffic. So, my point is that the outside lanes on both sides of the bridge could also be converted to bike lanes. That would allow someone to easily ride from Dallas, down Melrose Drive, along Richardson/Municipal Drive, and along Collins all the way to at least Plano Road, and possibly all the way to Garland.

      • stuart said, on May 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

        What about the traffic entering/exiting the freeway? I’ve found that drivers exiting a freeway drive much more aggressively.

      • stuart said, on May 19, 2011 at 8:40 am

        Instead of buffered bike lanes, what about something similar to the shared lanes Richardson is using on other streetd but without the parking?

        So, you would have a narrow outside lane designated for slow traffic, bikes, and merging/turning traffic. This should improve safety by replacing a cross with a merge.

  3. […] The Collins Street Bridge by Adam at Bike Friendly Richardson The Collins Street Bridge is a popular way for cyclists to cross Central Expressway, partly because it has a relatively low amount of auto traffic compared to Spring Valley, Belt Line, Arapaho, Campbell, and Renner (Richardson Traffic Count Map).  However, it is not perfect.  The biggest problem is that many motorists tend to drive well above the speed limit when crossing the bridge and, as with other roads that cross Central… […]

  4. Mary Baker said, on May 18, 2011 at 9:55 am

    This is one of the best ideas I have heard yet! My bf and I live at Richardson Drive & Melrose. Biking to the train station involves Arapaho Road at this point. (I have taken Collins once and was almost run down.) If they made a bike lane, it would definitely be our new route to and from work! 🙂


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