Hands on Exchange

From Saturday, August 11th to Sunday, August 12th Street Plans, the University of Akron, and about 50 total volunteers installed a two-way protected bike lane on the north side of East Exchange Street between Arc Drive and Goodkirk Street. Funded by the Knight Foundation, Hands on Exchange tested new bikeway infrastructure on this portion of Exchange Street in anticipation of the City-led redesign of the street to take place in 2022.

The project kicked off in the Fall of 2017. Street Plans conducted two public workshops over the course of the design process to solicit ideas from the community, and worked alongside the City of Akron and METRO to carefully incorporate the bus routes along the corridor. After several meetings, four bus stops were either relocated or consolidated to make for more efficient traffic flow along Exchange Street, and the design of the bike lane at the bus stops was finalized. The City installed curb ramps at the bus stops to allow for people to safely cross the bike lane to board the bus– which no longer had to pull to the curb at each stop. The goal was to incorporate multiple transportation modes (driving, biking, walking, and transit) in such a way that each would be aware of the other, and inform the design of future projects.

About 9,000 sq. ft. were painted with green or tan traffic paint and about 380 flex stakes were placed along the .75-mile route to bring this project to life. Local businesses along the corridor sponsored free drinks, lunch, and snacks during the build days to all the volunteers that joined the project team.

To execute the project, Street Plans established four stations at the beginning intersection of each segment of the bike lane, and had volunteers work from west to east until each task for each station was completed. Eighty percent of the work was completed in the first day!

The project culminated in a bike party celebration on Friday, August 17th, attended by 100 community members and hosted by the University of Akron. The party had live music, food, and included a celebratory ride with attendees down the bike lane.

The project team hopes that this project not only further informs the City of Akron’s efforts to create multimodal streets, but that it also makes Exchange Street a safer place for all users.  

Check out some photos of the installation during the build days and of the final product below!

3 thoughts on “Hands on Exchange

  • August 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    I drive that stretch of Exchange every day and as a driver I hate it. With only one lane, no turn lanes at the side streets, no dedicated bus stops and Akron’s terrible lack of signal timing, traffic is slow, frustrating and a terrible waste of time, fuel and the additional of fumes into the atmosphere. Exchange was a difficult drive with the road conditions and the lack of turn lanes and extremely poor signal timings when there were 2 lanes of through traffic, this makes it worse. Unless the items noted above (turn lanes, bus stops and signal timings) are addressed in conjunction with the addition of the bike lanes, it will be horrendous for the drivers, probably not great for the bikers and a possible flashpoint creating angry motorists.

  • August 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    Honestly, this was a horrible idea. I’m a UA commuter who also spends a lot of time on campus and I’ve seen maybe 10 people using a bike in the year I’ve been enrolled. Even over the summer, people walked. The sidewalks are good enough. When winter comes, the campus sidewalks are scarce because of the cold. I went to class this morning and it took me 25 minutes to get from the route 8 exit to the Schrank parking deck. Of all the roads that would be chosen for this project, the most congested road in Akron is chosen. When I left class to go to work, it took me longer than usual due to the traffic back up in the opposite lane. Please give me the 2nd lane back!!!

  • September 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    This was a terrible idea! I drive up and down E Exchange numerous times a day and it is a nightmare to drive on. Plus I have seen only one person actually using the lane. It makes traveling downtown extremely difficult. Whoever made this decision and the decision to put parking lanes on Kenmore boulevard needs to be fired. Its almost as if they have never lived or worked in Akron. If we had three lanes of travel I understand making one a bike lane but we only had two. Unless they want to widen the roadway, the second lanes needs to be made a vehicle lane again.

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