Key West Bike, Walk, Transit and Streets for People Top 10 Stories of 2020 – #3: Crosstown Greenway Shows Path Forward for Bikes

By Roger McVeigh and Chris Hamilton, January 2, 2021

Last year this item made our list at #7 (2019 Top 10 – #7: Starting the Crosstown Greenway Project, December 23, 2019) because a series of public meetings had been held, grants and partners had been secured and a plan of action put into place. And this year, despite COVID pushing back the timeline by about six months, the project actually got done. Seeing all that green and yellow paint, well it’s beautiful. And it’s a big freaking deal when we get something done and THAT’S why this is our #3 story for the year. That and because it shows a path forward for doing similar work all across the City to make biking easier and safer for all.

What’s the Crosstown Greenway?

The Crosstown Greenway is a safe East/West corridor for bicycles and other transportation modes that spans the island from South Roosevelt Boulevard to Reynolds Street along Duck, Staples and Von Phister Avenues, right through the middle of the City.  The Crosstown Greenway has been identified in the City of Key West’s bicycle and pedestrian planning processes since 1996 and was formerly identified as the Crosstown Connector in the City’s Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, a 22 month intense planning process that began in May 2017, and was adopted and approved unanimously by the City Commission on March 5, 2019. (See 2019 Top 10 – #1: Adopting a Key West Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, December 31, 2019.)

What is the Crosstown Greenway?  Commonly known as a neighborhood greenway or a bike boulevard, this marked bicycle and pedestrian path is a collection of interventions intended to: slow motorist travel speeds; keep car volumes to local traffic only; make crossings safer; add greenery and art; and create a more comfortable route for bicyclists and pedestrians. Interventions that may be considered in neighborhood greenways include new crosswalks and crossbikes, mini traffic circles with planters, signage and branding, asphalt art, curb extensions and chicanes, speed humps, and planters and trees.

The Public Decides What Ideas to Try and Where

The project team has hosted a kickoff public workshop on October 19, 2019, disseminated an online survey to help understand the context of the corridor, visited with neighbors along the corridor to hear their thoughts, and hosted two evenings of public “open houses” to update the public on the feedback and project ideas received. These public engagements have been to identify where along the corridor there are challenges that could benefit from Neighborhood Greenway interventions. 

Volunteers Bring Project to Life

On November 20, 2020 through November 22, 2020, over thirty dedicated volunteers and City staff, led by the City’s Multimodal Coordinator, Tim Staub, and the nationally known firm Street Plans, successfully completed Phase I of the Crosstown Greenway Pilot Project.  Volunteer activities included things like prepping materials, and measuring, marking, painting, and striping the street.  

Phase 1 of the Project is Built

Phase I of the Crosstown Greenway Project included the successful implementation of the following improvements:

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Von Phister, George, Staples                             
A chicane, multiple curb extensions, and bike markings that will help slow cars approach to this intersection and help residents and visitors follow the Greenway onto Staples Avenue

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Staples and 3rd                                                                      
Extra bike parking and shared lane bike markings will support students commuting to school by bike and guide bicyclists’ positioning along the Greenway

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Staples and 5th
Curb extensions will help the slow the turns of cars, and shared lane bike markings will help guide bicyclists’ positioning along the Greenway 

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Staples and 7Th                                                                        
Shared lane bike markings and “crossbike” markings will help alert cars of crossing bicyclists at this four-way stop

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Seidenberg and 12th                                                              
An advisory bike lane in the shoulder along 12th St approaching Seidenberg Ave to help bikes safely access the entrance to the path to Kennedy Dr

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Reynolds and South
A bike box on Reynolds St at South St will allow bicyclists to queue in front of cars at the signalized intersection, increasing their visibility and giving them priority

City Staff Trained in Doing Bike/Ped Safety Projects

A recognized and important benefit of this Phase I pilot project was the knowledge transfer to volunteer bike advocates and City staff who may now plan to undertake many more similar safety improving bike and pedestrian projects throughout the City at minimal cost.  Street Plans is most widely known for its approach called “Tactical Urbanism,” an approach that emphasizes projects that are temporary and removeable, are built with low cost materials, include public input and involvement in installation, and are evaluated for their function and scalability throughout the City.

Bike Box on Reynolds at South Street.

One of the things we particularly like about this project is the bike box on Reynolds at South Street. A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase. Now that we know how to do a bike box we should be installing these at all the signalized intersections downtown where we have bike lanes, including on Southard, Fleming.

Getting This Project Done Give Us Hope

Now that we’ve gotten something done, have staff and volunteers trained, and the public has seen that this is a good way to make our streets safer for all users, we expect more good things to happen. Presumably Phase 2 of the Crosstown Greenway project will be to make some of these interventions more permanent and to move north and make the area where the path crosses Kennedy, the ballfields, Duck Avenue and S. Roosevelt safer. It should also show the path forward on safety improvements, identified in the Bike/Ped Master Plan, to get the green light sooner than later. And THAT’s why this item is so important to bicycling on the island and comes in at #3 on our Top 10 List. We’re hopeful for the future!

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#4: Duval Street Revitalization Project Brings Hope to Downtown (December 29, 2020)
#5: Duval and Simonton Rebuilt and Repaved, But… (December 28, 2020)
#6: Key West Transit Abandons Old Meandering Routes (December 27, 2020)
#7: Covid Recovery Plan’s Focus on Open Streets and Downtown (December 26, 2020)
#8: Some Progress on E-Bikes and Scooters Ordinance (December 23, 2020)
#9: FREE Fare on Duval Loop for Visitors is Back! (December 22, 2020)
#10: The Cow Key Bridge Carmaggedon That Wasn’t (December 21, 2020)

KW Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan 2019 (1)
Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan Appendix
Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan Master Plan Phases
Key West #115 in Best Cities for Bikes List, June 10, 2020
Key West, Let’s Radically Speed Up the Implementation of Our Bike/Ped Plan, May 20, 2020

About Roger McVeigh

A 15-year resident of Key West, Roger has been dedicated to public service since retiring in 2006 from a career in public accounting as a Partner with KPMG LLP in Atlanta, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. He’s a graduate of the City of Key West Ambassador Academy (2007) and the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys Leadership Success Academy (2009). Roger is active in local government and has served as a Board Member and often Treasurer of a diverse group of nonprofit and civic organizations covering education, social services, recreation and the arts, among others. He’s currently serving on the Advisory Committee for the City of Key West Crosstown Greenway Project, the City of Key West Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Lower Keys Medical Center Board of Trustees. 

Roger hails from Knoxville, Tennessee, attended both Emory University and Georgia State University and received his BBA in Accounting from Georgia State in 1983.Roger lives with his beautiful wife Cindy, and their two chihuahuas, Oreo and Cocoa in Old Town. He loves his adopted home of Key West, enjoys travel, hiking, supporting University of Tennessee Volunteer sports teams, and endurance sports including swim/bike/run events.

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

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