Betton Road Improvements

Michael Bannister, Mary Kay Falconer, and I recently met with city traffic planners and engineers to develop an approach to make Betton Road more neighborhood friendly.  That is, slower car speeds and more safety for all.  We knew Betton was to be repaved and restriped this fiscal year.  We wanted to see what safety improvements we could make as part of that project.  We also wanted some improvements before the repaving and to identify some possibilities from a longer term perspective.

Near-term:  Prior to Repaving/Repainting

  1. The city will add informational signs to the pedestrian island at Betton and Trescott.  These should be clearly legible to approaching motorists and direct them to stop for crosswalk users.  Residents should continue to start the yellow flashers to alert motorists prior to moving into the crosswalk.  (We tried to get the city to change the flashers from red, but the city is no longer using red.  There are safety issues associated with them as well as the yellow.)
  2. The city will also conduct a speed study to determine the level of speeding on Betton, when it occurs, and to then plan additional measures to reduce speeding.
  3. The city will consider making the traffic light at Lee and Betton flash during late night and early morning hours.  The flash would be yellow on Betton and red on Lee.  Again, the intent is to get driver’s attention so they drive appropriate speeds for the street and neighborhood.
  4. We also discussed intensifying enforcement efforts to reduce speeders, red light runners, and commercial trucks using Betton Rd.

Repaving/Repainting

The city will apply a number of “psychological design measures” aimed to reduce speeding and increase resident safety.  These include:

  1. Narrowing the driving lanes in both directions to 10 feet.
  2. Adding marked crosswalks at the West Randolph/ Marion and Betton intersection and East Randolph/Spruce and Betton intersection.  These crosswalks have many wide white stripes within the crosswalk to complement the two thin white lines that traditionally mark a crosswalk.
  3. Add marked crosswalk stripes at Trescott and Betton and widen the current pedestrian refuge.  Also, the city may reorient the streetlight near the intersection to better shine on pedestrians so they can be seen when getting ready to cross the street.
  4. Apply textured pavement of some sort in the middle lane (suicide lane) to convey immediately to motorists that they are “out of lane.”  Perhaps add short posts commonly used on bike lanes but at a greater distance apart to further support staying in the driving lane.  (The middle lane is important for turn lanes and emergency vehicle use on Betton in high volume traffic times.)
  5. Perhaps add textured surface to all crosswalks and prior to these intersections to alert motorists of approaching crosswalk.
  6. Perhaps plant and maintain a series of islands of low hedges between the sidewalks and curb.   The hedge would be at a height that would not block motorists from seeing pedestrians and vice versa.  The BHNA may also work with neighbors along Betton to plant shade trees on the residents’ sides of the sidewalks to beautify the street and make the sidewalks shaded for walkers and bicyclists.

Long-term

From the BHNA perspective, it’s always important to protect Betton Road from four-laning.  We don’t want road improvements and/or walkability and biking measures to lay the foundation for four-laning Betton.  We have too many people crossing it on foot or bike or pulling out from driveways and side streets in cars for four-laning to be a viable option.  The BHNA has opposed four-laning Betton since the organization was founded in 1972.

From the city’s perspective, long-term improvements may include conducting a street study to identify issues and design options that could make Betton safer for neighborhood (and drive-through motorists) use.  For example, the study may recommend that a non-continuous median be built in the middle of Betton designed to add to the psychological measures to slow traffic.  The study and recommendations would come some well after the repaving/restriping so the effects of the improvements associated with that project could be evaluated. 

Conclusion

We’re encouraged by the city’s willingness to make Betton safer.  The BHNA will continue to monitor the city’s plans and efforts to make sure Betton becomes a more neighborhood friendly street:  slow the traffic during off-peak times, create more crosswalks and make them safe, improve enforcement of speeding, red light runners, and commercial trucks, and improve the sidewalks for walkers and bicyclists.