Mayor’s Committee lays out first 7 on-street bike trails for this summer

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The first seven priorities for bike routes in Storm Lake were drawn out during a meeting of the Mayor’s Committee on Parks, Trails and Urban Forestry Wednesday night.

Plans are to stencil those seven areas with large bike trail symbols along the side of the streets this summer. City workers will be able to do the painting. Later, the group hopes to put out a map and brochure to guide bikers, and push some educational efforts to help motorists and bicyclists share the streets safely.

The first priority will be the lakefront area in the areas where riders will travel on streets. Some members lobbied for marking the entire streets along Sunrise Park Road and Lakeshore Drive, but Mayor Jon Kruse said the adjacent LakeTrail was built for such uses. “What’s safer, the trail or the street?” he asked.

Chautauqua Park Road was discussed as a possible addition.

Fifth Street was names as priority number 2, running east and west across town, with a loop around the high school and an access to the Field of Dreams.

Priority three is Oneida Street from Lakeshore to 10th, and four will be 10th from Oneida to Vestel. Priority five will be Vestel and Grand to West 4th, hooking into the LakeTrail.

A school loop in the West 5th/Hyland Drive area to the elementary and middle schools, with a connecting trail between the schools, is priority six. It would extend west to connect to a countywide route planned for Abner Bell Road.

Finally, priority seven will be south Lake Avenue from just south of downtown to the lakefront. The group originally hopes to route trail north on Lake too, but was fearful of crossing bikes at the busy Lake and Milwaukee crossing. There will be no route on the downtown streets for now and bilking on those sidewalks is also outlawed, but Kruse said the group needs to consider a strategy there in the future, along with possible bike racks.

After some discussion, the committee felt that was enough to get done in the first year. They will invite public input on those routes and consider changes accordingly.

Kruse said that the on-street routes will have to suffice until “someday when we have millions of dollars to put in wide new trails at a million dollars a mile.”

Kruse and the committee notes that bicyclists can ride on any streets, whether they are part of the bike routes or not, and are not required to stick to the marked bike lanes. But congregating bikes on marked streets will build driver awareness and increase safety, they feel.

Parking will not be restricted on the routes, bikes will have to go around parked vehicles. In most areas bike trails will be marked on both sides of the street, although the committee expressed some concern about street width and the possibility of someone having to give if two cars are meeting with bike riders on both sides.

Earlier, the group discussed painting a line also to divide car areas from the bike line, but that would have to be done by an outside contractor at additional cost. They are also concerned that vehicle drivers might be less prepared for bikes to venture out of their lanes with a line. They hope to research which arrangement has proven safest in other cities with on-street bike trails.

The stencils will be done about every 300 feet, or three per block, with arrows at corners pointing the way for riders to stay on marked trails. More symbols could be added later if needed. The paint used to mark the bike routes will be reflective for night use.

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