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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bike lanes earn equal billing

From an article by Sean Ryan in The Daily Reporter:

Vehicles, sidewalks and medians are stuck in a battle for right-of-way as the state and cities push for new bike lanes with road projects.

On the 76th Street reconstruction project in Milwaukee, for example, the state and city might need to take a chunk from the median to make room for bike lanes, said Dave Schlabowske, Milwaukee bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the Department of Public Works. But the city and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation must weigh priorities, such as whether a narrower median leaves enough room for cars to wait while making left turns, he said.

“You have to balance everything out,” Schlabowske said. “So we’re taking a closer look at it, and it looks like WisDOT is willing to flex a little bit on their lane widths.”

WisDOT is making bike lanes a priority on its projects along local roads because the Federal Highway Administration is tying its money to complete street requirements, Schlabowske said.

The desire to create complete streets for walkers, bikers and drivers is stirring up residents in Shorewood who don’t want trees cut down to widen the right-of-way. Shorewood is considering a long-range plan for a network of bike routes with bike lanes and directions sending bikers to roads that are wide or quiet enough to be safe.

Bikes are a hot topic, and many communities are creating long-range plans to establish bike routes because it’s politically correct and gas prices are driving more people to pedal, said Mary Beth Pettit, project manager of the Shorewood plan for Graef, Anhalt, Schloemer and Associates Inc., Milwaukee. She said the focus on bikes creates problems if the right-of-way doesn’t have enough room for bike lanes.


And a story by Dorie Turner in The Chicago Tribune reports that Ripon College, among others, will provide bicycles to students who don't bring a car to campus:

Cycling already has a foothold at many colleges, where hefty parking fees, sprawling campuses and limited roads make it tough to travel. Still, most students are reluctant to leave their cars parked.

"They're using them to drive from residence halls to class, which is a two- or three-block commute," said Ric Damm, an administrator and cycling coach at Ripon College, which is giving away $300 bikes to freshmen who leave their cars at home. "We thought, 'How can we provide an incentive to get them out of that behavior?'"

Damm's school, outside Oshkosh, Wis., has spent $26,000 on its free bike program, which so far has signed up half of the 300-student freshman class, Damm said.

"I think a big draw is the just the environmental aspect," said freshman Regina Nelson, who readily signed up for a free bike. "And, honestly, I think that anything free when you're in college is good, especially something like a bike that is worth something."

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