Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kernan Blvd. Bikeway. The Beginning?

For that last few months I had been hearing rumors about a new bike path that runs along Kernan Blvd. It was described to me by more than one individual as this "small little path of no consequence." After hearing such varied and derogatory descriptions of the path, who could blame me for not being in any hurry to check it out.

A couple of weekends ago I finally took the time to head over and see this "little path of no consequence" for myself. I hooked up with Shek once again since this path was in his neck of the woods and we biked our way from Southside Blvd. through the Town Center and then cutting through UNF and finally out onto Kernan Blvd.

Once we hit Kernan Blvd. we turned north and headed toward the construction in search of the "little path of no consequence." It wasn't but just a couple minutes of pedaling when we started seeing signs of future bikeway being built alongside the new road construction.

I was instantly impressed with how wide the unfinished path was. We continued to ride past about a half mile of the bikeway in various stages of construction before running into the completed section about half of a mile from the Beach Blvd. intersection.

Once on the path, Shek and I were as giddy as a couple of school girls. The second we were on the path the pressure we had experienced from riding in the the very narrow traffic lanes was instantly gone. We were now able to sit back and slow down our pace and actually enjoy the ride.

That is until we rounded a bend and ran into the van below parked across the path just south of the Beach Blvd. intersection.

Shek and I went in the pizza joint and asked (very politely) the owner if he would move the van. When we rode back an hour later the van was still firmly in place. Please feel free to give the owner a call if you feel the need.

After we left the pizza joint we continued to Beach Blvd. where we both figured the path would end since we had been told multiple times how small it is. Well, imagine our shock when we looked across Beach only see the path continuing.

Despite the visual intimidation that crossing the eight lanes of Beach Blvd. presents. It is rather easy once you have the green. There are however two points of contention that you must be vary aware of while crossing.

The first is with cars turning east onto Beach Blvd off of Kernan. They have a dedicated turn lane with a yield sign for traffic control that you must cross to an island before proceeding across the intersection. And of course drivers don't feel that yielding applies to cyclists or pedestrians.

The second is a mirror image of what is described above with autos turning north onto Kernan off of Beach. This is were I ran into trouble with a minivan in which the driver looked me dead in the eyes as they continued their slow roll right towards me forcing me to leave the line that I was traveling and jump the curb to get across the traffic lane.

After leaving the minivan driver with some well deserved glares and gestures we continued on our way.

Despite a completely raw day weather wise we still ran into a surprising amount of people out on the path.

This is a perfect corridor for kids that attend Kernan Middle School to walk or ride. The bike path ties into the sidewalk leading to the school providing what should be a poster child for Safe Route to Schools for the rest of jacksonville.

Reaching the pathway end at Atlantic Blvd. was a little surreal. It was odd seeing this nice wide boulevard funnel into a three foot sidewalk.

My overall impressions of the Kernan Blvd. Multi-use trail are that this trail is exactly what is so desperately needed in Jacksonville and should be applauded. Unlike the S-Line Urban Greenway this path gives people an option for the way they travel from home, work and school.

The path is currently in phase 4 of construction and will be just under 4 miles at 3.9 when finished with this phase. There are two more phases (5 & 6) of construction that will lengthen the trail. But according to Anita Warming of River City Management Group who are overseeing the construction. The final two phases are on hold due to lack of funding within the Better Jacksonville Plan.

In the title of this post I wrote "The beginning" with a question mark. I wrote this because as I was researching this trail I learned that the trail is just the beginning of what Councilman Art Graham envisions as a massive transportation trail.

I will be sitting down with Councilmen Graham soon and let him tell you more about his vision. It is not often our city gets something right, so please take a moment and call his office (904-630-1397) or drop him an email ([email protected]) with a note of thanks.


Anonymous said...

that's pretty interesting, I never really realized that was a trail. The part of the trail on kernan going up to beach has actually been there for awhile, it was there back in Aug 07 when I first moved there.

dr.strangelove said...

very cool...maybe one day riverside will wise up until then i will dodge the parked cars.

Anonymous said...

Riverside is more bike friendly without bike paths than the Kernan area is with them.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome. I'm always suprised that there's not more bike baths near university's, so many students use bikes.
As for the pizza place, I guess I'll be boycotting...

Anonymous said...

i rode past the pizza place today and the van was moved off the bike path, maybe they learned their lesson lol

David Hembrow said...

That has the promise of providing a very useful path, but the junctions unfortunately look like they're not quite what they need to be.

As for the number of people using it ? I don't believe there is any difference between people anywhere. In many countries there is a huge pent up demand for cycling, but they're simply scared off by conditions. I've noted this before in the UK. If you build it, they will come.