Construction on University Avenue seeks to improve pedestrian, bicycle travel

Jaspery Goh/HIGHLANDER
Jaspery Goh/HIGHLANDER

The city of Riverside recently completed an expansive construction project along University Avenue and Canyon Crest Drive to make it safer and more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling through those areas.

According to Superintendent of Transportation and Parking Services Andy Stewart, construction for the project started last summer, and its final stages were finished in December 2014. The city spent a total of $394,598.78 on construction, which included opening another sidewalk, widening and adding bicycle lanes and improving traffic signals along University Avenue and Canyon Crest Drive.

“The completed project has provided increased access and safety for pedestrians and cyclists that travel through the area,” Stewart said.

Bicycle lanes were widened on both Canyon Crest Drive and University Avenue. In addition, a cement barrier was placed along the curb of Canyon Crest Drive to create a two-way bicycle lane. Another sidewalk, previously separate from other walkways, was completed on University Avenue, allowing students easier travel from campus to University Village.

Because Canyon Crest Drive was originally designed as a four-lane road, city officials were able to designate the extra space toward creating the two-way bicycle lanes. Of the two westbound car lanes on University Avenue, one lane was converted into a right-turn-only lane that merges onto the I-215.

A 2013 study conducted by the city measured how many pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles used the street on a daily basis. The city determined that the average daily traffic on University Avenue between the I-215 freeway and Campus Crest Drive was 12,165. The average daily traffic increases to 22,257 in between the I-215 and University Village.

Although maintaining pedestrian and bicyclist safety along these busy roads was the goal of the project, Stewart had no record of pedestrian, bicyclist or vehicle accidents that may have prompted the city and university to take action.

“There were no incidents that drove this project,” said Stewart. “But there was a history of pedestrians walking in the roadway on the north side of University Avenue where there was no sidewalk, and bicyclists riding against traffic on Canyon Crest Drive.”

According to Stewart, city and campus officials meet regularly to discuss possible improvement projects. He said there was a mutual desire to improve pedestrian and bicycle travel along those roads near campus.

For Kassandra McLeod, a third-year liberal arts major who frequent University Village to eat at the restaurants, the construction has helped make the trip from campus a little quicker.

“I think it’s useful that they went ahead and opened both sides,” said McLeod. “Now there’s less pedestrian traffic.”

McLeod said her only complaint is the shape the sidewalks are in. She cruises through campus on her skateboard, but still finds it difficult to ride along University Avenue.

“I’m annoyed with how small and uneven the sidewalks are,” she said. “I almost died on my skateboard.”

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