Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

Milwaukee’s First Protected Bike Lanes

Two bridges receive special infrastructure for bicyclists.

By - Jun 22nd, 2018 05:10 pm
Bollard in North Ave. Bridge Protected Bike Lane. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Bollard in North Ave. Bridge Protected Bike Lane. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Normally Friday Photos is all about bricks and mortar, but this week we’re taking a detour to something that is simply paint and plastic.

The city is installing protected bicycle lanes on the E. North Ave. and E. Locust St. bridges. The lanes include a striped section that creates more space between bikes and cars, as well as plastic barriers. The plastic barriers aren’t enough to stop a car if hit, but are a highly visible barrier between the two lanes.

The lanes will be welcomed by cyclists, who will now be separated from motorists speeding over the bridges. In addition, vehicle speeds will be reduced because both bridges will go from two vehicle lanes in each direction to one. The change will put the bridges in alignment with the nearby roadways that also include just one lane in each direction. The city is creating turn lanes at major intersections to avoid backups.

Department of Public Works report indicates that one in five cars on the Locust Street bridge were measured going over 40 miles per hour. That means an average of two vehicles a minute fly by at more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

A city fact sheet on the project states: “from 2012 to 2016, there were 221 crashes resulting in 80 injuries on E. Locust Street and 120 crashes resulting in 54 injuries on E. North Avenue, including 23 pedestrians and 23 bicyclists struck.”

The bridge reconfiguration is intended not only to be safer for cyclists, but also for pedestrians and motorists by reducing speeds and the number of lane changes required. The project has the support of area alderman Nik Kovac, who enthusiastically endorsed the project at a press conference in early June.

The bridges, separated by just under a mile, serve as critical links between the East Side and Riverwest. In between the two bridges there is no way to cross from one neighborhood to the other short of fording the Milwaukee River. And the next bridge to the north is at Capitol Drive, 1.3 miles north of Locust, so these two bridges carry a lot of traffic.

The North Avenue bike lanes are in place, while the Locust Street lanes are in the process of being installed. Lightly used parking lanes were removed on the North Avenue bridge to accommodate the project. Both projects include “road diets” or lane reductions on the roadway just beyond the bridge as well.

The project is the second time the city has experimented with separation for bicycle lanes. The first time was in 2011 when the city installed raised bike lanes on E. Bay St. in Bay View. Motorists (and snow plows) can still drive up onto the bicycle lane, but feel a bump and rumble if they do so.

The next step for the city will be expanding the quality of the lanes beyond the bridges. The safety of those lanes, especially on E. North Ave., effectively ends once you’re off the bridge.

Oh, and if you’re concerned about the large pothole in the eastbound bike lane on the North Ave. bridge, I’ve reported it. Let’s see how long it takes for the city to fix it. Until then, use caution as you approach the bridge.


If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

9 thoughts on “Friday Photos: Milwaukee’s First Protected Bike Lanes”

  1. Georgio says:

    This is fantastic. Of course we all know that the Cons are trying their hardes to rid WI of bike lanes.

  2. GRNDPAKWH says:

    I have just returned from a morning bike ride and can report that the large pothole is common on Milwaukee streets. Living on the forgotten NW side of Milwaukee we get little to no services, no trendy bars and restaurants out here. The Oak Leaf trail in our area is in shambles.I tried to ride it yesterday to find large flooded areas with hidden holes under the water. What pavement remains id crumbling. There are two streets with newer pavement, N 92nd and Appleton; however, since there is no police patrols on this side of town there is no speed limits or obeying stop lights. I would be happy if a car slowed down to 40.

  3. dan mccubbin says:

    I notice that in these photos no Bikes to be seen………….and about 20 parking spots are GONE………

    The Street Car……… a great idea too…..

  4. William Robison says:

    Actually, W Roosevelt Dr between Burleigh and Capital already had protected bike lanes. Perhaps there were other spots as well?

  5. Dave Reid says:


    I believe that stretch of Roosevelt Dr. is a buffered bike lane not a “protected” bike lane. They key difference is that protected lanes include the plastic barrier poles.

  6. Sam J says:

    Very cool. So what’s the layout to the east and west of the bridges? Did the stretch of Locust between Oakland and the river get fixed? Is the gap in bike lanes on North Ave between Reservoir Park and the river finally closed?

    These should really be protected anywhere there isn’t a regularly used parking lane since otherwise Milwaukee drivers seem to see bike lanes and parking lanes as an opportunity to pass traffic at high speed. Milwaukee really needs to up its protected bike lane game to catch up to Chicago and Minneapolis and deal with out of control drivers.

  7. Thomas says:

    I have had Walker Fatigue for many years. Recently I have been suffering from Caligula and Troll Fatigue. When will the chumps realize that stupid words such as libtard are enjoyed exclusively by the mentally challenged?

  8. Kristy says:

    Could the city have the streetsweeper come through so everytime I ride in this protected bike line I don’t worry about getting a flat?

  9. MitchellB says:

    @dan if you actually lived in the city you would realize nobody uses those parking spots on the north ave bridge. don’t @ me.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us