Riverwest Will Get First Bike Boulevards
Two miles of streets where bikes get priority over cars.
The Riverwest neighborhood will likely be the site of Milwaukee’s first “bike boulevards,” on a stretch of N. Fratney St. between E. Keefe and E. Meinecke avenues (connecting to Reservoir Park) and on E. Wright St. from N. Palmer St. to N. Gordon Pl.
“Bicycle boulevards, also called shared roadways, are low-volume streets where motorists share the same space,” a city Department of Public Works (DPW) publication explains. “Traffic calming and other treatments along the corridor reduce travel speeds to that motorists and bicycles generally travel at the same speed.”
Staff from the Department of Public Works will begin meeting with the design consultant, Toole Design Group, and others in early August. After which, Toole Design will develop the conceptual public recommendations for a public presentation.
The two bike boulevards will together create slightly more than two miles of priority street for bicyclists. The boulevard on W. Wright St will also connect to the Beerline Trail portion of the Oak Leaf Trail along the Milwaukee River.
Meetings for public input on the project won’t begin until Spring 2018.
James Hannig, the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for DPW, said typical targets for bike boulevards are already low-speed, low-traffic streets. Then additional street signs, pavement markings and “speed management measures” are added.
“I like to think of it as making low-stress streets that are already pretty good for bicycling even less stressful,” Hannig wrote in an email. “Particularly at intersections.”
The street signs and pavement markings clearly demarcate at various points throughout the boulevard that this street has been set up for bicycle priority.
An explainer from the National Association of City Transportation Officials says the signs and pavings essentially work in tandem to “brand the route.”
When it comes to managing speed on a bike boulevard, anything from simple speed limit reductions to speed humps and curb build outs can be employed.
But for Milwaukee’s first bike boulevards, which are in the early planning stages, planners are looking at upgrading signalized intersections in order to “quickly and consistently pick up bicyclists on the corridor waiting to cross,” Hannig said. Also, there’s the possibility of replacing some four-way stops with neighborhood-scale traffic circles or, “similar traffic calming treatments to keep people on bicycles moving while maintaining neighborhood-appropriate travel speeds and discouraging cut-through traffic.”
Bike boulevards are another citywide infrastructure investment called for in the 2010 planning document, Milwaukee by Bike, which calls for the creation of 54 miles of bike boulevards.