WATCH: Salisbury’s Waverly Drive gets bike lane makeover Rose Velazquez, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve driven on Waverly Drive in Salisbury in the last few weeks, you probably have a few questions about what the heck is going on with its new traffic pattern.
What are zebra barriers and why are there suddenly so many of them on Waverly Drive? Are they permanent? And when do the cones come down? Can I expect other nearby roads to get the same treatment?
Waverly Drive runs parallel to Route 13 behind Peninsula Regional Medical Center from Carroll Street to South Boulevard. The project is part of Salisbury’s Bicycle Network Master Plan, an outline for adding new bicycle infrastructure throughout the city that was first adopted back in 2016.
Delmarva Now talked to City of Salisbury Transportation Project Specialist Will White to get answers to some of your most pressing questions about the changes to Waverly Drive and the city’s growing bicycle network.
What’s happened to Waverly Drive?
White explained Waverly Drive is the city’s first dedicated cycle track. If you’re headed down Waverly Drive in the direction of Carroll Street toward downtown Salisbury, that cycle track is to your right.
Its key feature is the physical separation between drivers and bicyclists, which right now is in the form of zebra barriers, small black and white curved humps that lie in the striped area between the lanes.
A recent Facebook post from the city explaining the project says there will also eventually be “permanent lane delineator posts and rumble strips.”
“It’s to create an entirely separate and safe bicycle lane,” White said. “Waverly is unique. It’s the only two-way cycle track in the city so far.”
Because one side of the road has several driveways, while the other has only a few, he said it was decided that Waverly Drive’s bike lane would work best as a two-way to reduce the number of conflict points between drivers and bicyclists.
The city’s post on the road work also shows Waverly Drive has been simplified and narrowed not only to allow for the creation of a separate, protected bike lane, but also to slow drivers down.
Why the change?
If you build it, they will come. That’s what White said studies have long indicated about safe walking and bicycle infrastructure.
“We can’t fit anymore cars really in Salisbury,” he said. “The roads can only be so wide before they can’t build on anything. This is what we have.”
Although work on Waverly Drive has been ongoing, he’s already seen people eager to try out its new cycle track.
“There’s so many people on it already cycling that we had to move our trucks so that they wouldn’t have to go around us,” he said. “It’s not even open yet, and people are already flocking to it.”
Another factor driving the change is speeding.
To determine exactly what kind of bicycle facility would best suit Waverly Drive, the city collected data. White said those numbers showed cars were regularly going in excess of the posted speed limit.
“Now I ride behind people on Waverly, they’re doing about 20 to 25 (miles per hour), which is kind of where we want them for safety purposes,” he said.
What are drivers and bicyclists saying?
Since it went up Aug. 6, a Facebook post from the city explaining the project and its goals has garnered dozens of comments.
“As I use this route everyday to and from work I appreciate the explanation. And will feel safer biking to work now too,” Facebook user Karen Dunn commented.
Although he initially found the changes to Waverly Drive confusing because there had been “very little guidance in place,” Facebook user Nicholas Dudas explained in his comment that he’s ready to give the shift a chance now that it’s nearing completion and things are making more sense.
“But all-in-all, if the civil engineers say it will reduce accidents, I have no proof otherwise,” he wrote. “I’m willing to try it in its completed state for a few weeks before I start whining again.”
Some people, however, said they’re concerned about the growing traffic backups they’ve been seeing.
Facebook user Joshua Leight commented that he’s started seeing more congestion at “rush hour times,” especially where Waverly Drive meets Carroll Street.
“As congested as this road already is, this has caused more backup in traffic,” he wrote.
In an interview, Jen Dolph, who lives on a one-way street along Waverly Drive and drives the road at least once or twice daily, said she was “annoyed” when she first encountered the road work.
She has lingering concerns about the changes, like what it will be like to make the turn to the emergency room from Waverly Drive, both for ambulances and non-emergency vehicles, and what will happen if a bicyclist swerves and hits one of the new barriers.
But Dolph has warmed up to the idea of the new bike lane and hopes that it may actually increase the value of her home, which she’s put on the market in the past without success.
“Initially when I saw it, I was super frustrated, and then I took a step back, and I’m like, ‘You know what? Bikes are cool, and in the long run maybe this sells my house. People will adjust because that’s what we do, and it is what it is,’ ” she said.
When will the Waverly Drive cones come down, and are there other projects in the works?
By Tuesday, Aug. 12, White expected striping on the road to be completed. Then, city personnel were simply awaiting a final shipment of barriers that were delayed and needed to be installed to wrap up the work.
“The cones are going to stay in place for another week or so, maybe two as people get used to it, and then we’ll start taking them down,” he said.
Completing the master plan as a whole will take years, according to White, with work being completed as roads are scheduled for regular maintenance and paving.
Northwood Drive, which connects Route 13 in Salisbury to Naylor Mill Road and the bypass, is another recent bicycle network makeover. It now has bike lanes on both sides of the roadway, with a narrow section of striping separating car and bike lanes. Carroll Street will also soon join Waverly Drive as well.
White estimated work on Carroll Street will likely begin in about six weeks, but said it could take a little longer to get started as city personnel are realigning elements of the project based on lessons learned from the work on Waverly Drive.
As changes to Waverly Drive wrap up and other road projects get underway, White warned that drivers should continue to remain alert in these areas.
“We’ll have all the cones and the signage out, but people still need to pay attention,” he emphasized. “They’re in an active work zone, and those guys want to go home to their families too.”
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