During the first week of August, the City of River Falls will install new high visibility striping and bollards, or tall plastic barriers, at the intersection of Main Street and Division Street. The additions are part of a temporary demonstration project to pilot traffic calming measures aimed at improving pedestrian and cyclist safety.
The project, which is being funded by a $10,000 AARP Community Challenge Grant, also includes enhanced accessibility crosswalk push buttons, a “no right on red” for vehicles turning from westbound Division Street onto southbound Main Street, and a public art piece.
AARP awarded the Community Challenge Grant to the City, one of 310 organizations nationwide, on June 28. The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages.
The project at Main Street and Division Street is the first to be implemented as a result of the City’s Bike & Pedestrian Plan, which the City Council unanimously adopted on March 28, 2023. The Bike & Pedestrian Plan was one of three City planning documents updated as part of Focus River Falls, an eighteen-month effort that also included updating the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Outdoor Recreation Plan.
Through community engagement activities during the development of the plan, residents identified the intersection as an area of significant safety concern. Many expressed that drivers travel through the right turn lane too quickly when making a right on red and don’t notice pedestrians and cyclists.
The new bollards will block off a section of the current righthand turn lane, shifting it further west. The change will make the right turn sharper for vehicles, which has been shown to influence drivers to turn more slowly and cautiously. The bollards will also be used to create an area between the sidewalk and island that will become a protected bike lane, allowing cyclists to turn right onto Main Street more safely. A green bike lane will also be painted across Main Street to notify drivers that cyclists may be crossing.
The lane shift and placement of bollards will decrease the area of pedestrian-vehicle interaction. Pedestrians will be able to leave the sidewalk, cross the bike lane, and wait on the protected island before crossing in front of vehicles. Staff expect that the enhanced protected area will improve both safety and accessibility for pedestrians that need more time to cross the street.
Because the improvements are considered a demonstration project, they will be in effect for a limited time, allowing staff to test their effectiveness before committing to permanent changes. In the fall, the City will invite public input on the project to determine which changes, if any, it will adopt as long-term solutions.
In addition to the safety and accessibility improvements, the grant also includes funds for a public art installation at the project site. The City will collaborate with UWRF art students to design a painted art piece on surface of the road within the pedestrian waiting area. All community members will be invited to help paint the design at an upcoming City event, “Paint the Pavement,” later in August.
“We greatly appreciate the input we received during the Focus River Falls process, and we hope to hear more from you as we move into the implementation phase with new projects like this,” said Community Development Director Amy Peterson. “We look forward to working together to bring the action items in the plans to life.”