Biking Takes Spotlight this Summer
Highlights include 76 miles of new or improved bike lanes, and a raised bike lane for Bay View.
This weekend is UPAF’s annual Ride for the Arts, an event thousands of riders look forward to, all the more so in recent years as they get a chance to peddle over the Hoan Bridge. The views are spectacular, the ride is fun, and you also get a visceral demonstration of what might have been — meaning the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s huge mistake, failing to include bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the Hoan reconstruction project. Not only could thousands of cyclists and walkers have used it every day, but it could have created a new tourist destination for Milwaukee that might have drawn visitors from all across the Midwest.
Opponents of the proposal to add bike lanes to the Hoan Bridge made arguments that were all over the map: that bicyclists would be blown off the bridge or into traffic, that paramedics would be needed to rescue bicyclists unable to make the climb, and that it wouldn’t attract riders. WisDOT argued that based on future, some would say questionable, automobile traffic predictions, it was not possible to remove a lane of traffic because for two hours a day traffic would slow to about the speed limit.
Here’s my prediction: during this year’s Ride for the Arts not one bike will be blown off the bridge, the vast majority of riders will find the climb easier than the hill climb going north on Lincoln Memorial, and most will finish the ride exhilarated by the experience and mystified by the decision of state policymakers to prevent this from happening every day.
76 Miles of New Bike Infrastructure
In recent weeks, temporary bike markings (shown at left) have popped up on streets all over Milwaukee. These probably looked familiar, though not quite the same, to cyclists that have ridden in other cities. Known as sharrows, these markings are part of a significant expansion to Milwaukee’s bike infrastructure.
The ongoing city project includes 38 miles of new bike lanes and 38 miles of existing lanes which will be marked with sharrows. These remind drivers to share the road with bicyclists while showing cyclists the best place to ride on the street.
Dave Schlabowske, Communications Director Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, has more details on the project. It’s another sign that, even though state funding for bicycle infrastructure has fallen and has dropped Wisconsin’s bike friendly rating from #3 to #6, Milwaukee is moving forward. What’s next on the agenda? How about bike boxes?
Bike-sharing Tested Again
For those who missed last year’s demonstration of Trek’s B-Cycle system at Discovery World, there is another opportunity to test the concept in Milwaukee. The bike-sharing demonstration will be held at Catalano Square, in the Historic Third Ward, on June 4th (flyer) from 11:45 am to 1:30 pm.
Bike-sharing is a proven and effective method of transportation that allows commuters to replace short automobile trips with a bike ride. That can help reduce congestion, pollution and parking costs while providing a fun and healthy mode of transportation. Systems like these have been implemented in cities around the world, including Chicago, Madison, and Minneapolis. Why not Milwaukee?
Celebrating the Raised Bike Lane in Bay View
The spotlight moved to Bay View last week as bicycle advocates gathered with city politicians and staff to celebrate the opening of a raised bike lane. Although the lane began functioning last year, little had been done previously to announce it to the public. Located along Bay St., as it parallels the Lake Freeway through Bay View, the raised bike lane gives riders more separation from automobile traffic and better visibility.
This design brings Milwaukee one step closer to testing out a true cycletrack. A cycletrack, which is often raised, locates the bike lane between the curb and the parking lane, giving bicyclists a clear separation from fast moving automobile traffic. Cycletracks are used extensively in Copenhagen and other European cities, and have helped cause a dramatic increase in bike ridership.
Mayor’s Design Awards
The 2012 Mayor’s Design Awards were announced at an event last week, and there were a couple of note for bicycle enthusiasts.
The S. 2nd Street re-design reduced automobile travel lanes, added bike lanes, expanded sidewalks, and added street trees. The finished product has resulted in new cafe seating at a multitude of establishments along the stretch. As you may remember, Urban Milwaukee played a small role in this effort, so we’re feeling especially proud of this one.
Crank Daddy’s picked up a Mayor’s Design Award for its innovative covered bicycle parking designed by Chris Socha, of Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc, as part of the bicycle shop’s move from Farwell Ave. to Prospect Ave.