Some object to plan for bike lanes on St. Joseph Avenue
Mar 02, 2013 (St. Joseph News-Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Possible bike lanes on St. Joseph Avenue are causing some concern among residents and business owners on the North Side.
On Monday, the City Council will vote to approve the use of $750,000 to re-stripe and repair that section of the avenue that runs from Krug Park, south about a mile and a half. A federal livability grant will pay for $600,000, while the city is contributing $150,000.
The plan would reduce that section of the avenue from four lanes to two, with a middle turning lane. Bike lanes would also be added on both sides, while curbside parking would remain the way it is currently.
On Saturday, the Northside Community Association hosted a final meeting before the vote so city officials could hear comments and concerns from the North Side community. Some believe that bike lanes on St. Joseph Avenue, one of the city's busiest streets, would not be safe for bikers, or for motorists while they are exiting or entering their vehicles.
Ken Reeder, a North side resident, believes that the bike lanes should be put elsewhere to provide safety for the bikers.
"It would be the only, what, two-mile section in the city where they're going to have painted-off lanes like that," he said. "In no place else in the city does it exist."
Mr. Reeder said the bike lanes would be in a better location if they were off St. Joseph Avenue.
Jody Carlson, director of public works and transportation for the city, said the bike lanes were part of the grant proposal and cannot be moved or taken out. The lanes aren't just for bikers, he added, but also serve as a "buffer zone," so those who park on the avenue can have room to open their doors.
"The goal is simply to allow those vehicles that are parking at businesses, parking at residences along there, to give them a safer environment to get in and out of their vehicles," he said.
Mr. Carlson said broken side mirrors are a problem on that section of the avenue, and a buffer zone would give parked vehicles more room to avoid such accidents.
The buffer zones would officially be striped as bike lanes, but Mr. Reeder believes they won't be utilized as such.
"I don't think it will increase the bike activity at all," Mr. Reeder said. "Who wants to ride on a highway "
Mr. Carlson disagreed, and said the lanes could potentially attract bikers.
"When the project is finished, it will allow them their own individual bike lane," Mr. Carlson said. "It should provide them their own safe environment in that area to bike."
Thirty-five people were in attendance, including several members of the Northside Community Association and council member Pat Jones. A visual vote indicated that about 50 percent were in favor of the project, while the other half opposed it.
David Hon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPDaveHon.
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