I finally had a chance to try out the recently completed Dinky Line section of the Orlando Urban Trail on Saturday. It is really well done! I particularly wanted to examine the trail crossing on busy Virginia Ave, both from a trail user’s and a motorist’s perspective. I rode a folding bike on the trail in each direction between Magnolia and Princeton, then drove my van across the trail at Highland Ave, Ferris Ave, and several times in each direction on Virginia Ave.
Bicycling along the trail was a pleasure. The trail markings, fencing, pavement, landscaping, and crossings are all first rate. And there are no bollards!
Look at the amenities:
Benches, water fountain, bike rack, informative and historic signage, trash containers.
There is even a doggie waste disposal station.
When the newly planted landscaping matures, the palm trees, cypress and other trees (oaks, I think) will provide cooling shade and contribute to the linear park environment.
The trail markings and signs are superb. There are maps, mileposts, and informational signs about the history of the area, all with beautiful graphics.
The sign on the right tells about the old lumber company which occupied that site for many years. This marker is placed beside a bench in the shade of an oak tree.
Nice, huh? The whole trail is lovely.
I was impressed by the trail crossing at the heavily traveled Virginia Ave. The engineering of the crossing is excellent.
The crossing has a median refuge diversion, which causes traffic to slow way down, and there are even solar powered RRFBs (Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons), which are attention-getting even in extremely bright sunlight. If you aren’t familiar with RRFBs, here’s all you might want to know from the feds: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/resources/techsum/fhwasa09009/
The RRFB flashing lights at Virginia start immediately upon pushing the button, which is conveniently located for cyclists, and continue for exactly 60 seconds.A minute is a generous amount of time to ride or walk across the street.
I watched a couple of bicyclists arrive at the crossing. The woman pushed the button, then proceeded across. The man with her seemed somewhat confused as to what the flashing lights meant, and appeared to be waiting for some sort of green light for him and/or red light for the motorists. I rode across the crosswalk, and he eventually got the idea and crossed, too. Drivers yielded without any drama.
Here on the other side of the trail, looking back at the crossing, there is a bike parking area, so you could secure your bike and visit the small businesses along that section of Virginia Ave. and you could pitch your Slurpee cup in the trash can, I suppose. I was here in the brutally hot midday sun, when only mad dogs, Englishmen, and foldie riders go out.
Now the crossing from a motorist’s perspective, assuming the driver is behind the wheel of a Chevy Express van. Here’s eastbound on Virginia.
Up ahead you see the yellow crossing alert sign.
Then the bold pavement markings, which would be hard to miss.
Here’s coming up on the trail crossing median refuge.The flashing lights aren’t activated in this picture. You can click on the picture for larger view.
(Highland Ave and Ferris Ave , which have a lower volume of traffic, have well-marked trail crossings, but do not need the whole RRFB/median diversion treatment.)
Pretty impressive, huh? Beautiful trail, excellent engineering of the crosswalks, and encouragement: the signs marking the trail are so attractive that I think they will make some drivers want go home, dust off their bikes, and try it out.
I am eagerly looking forward to the completion of more sections of the Orlando Urban Trail, which is part of the longer range plan for greater connectivity, but this little section of trail is a delight.
THANK YOU, ORLANDO! GREAT JOB!