Draft Milwaukee Bike Plan Issued

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 20th, 2010

Milwaukee recently issued a draft of a bicycle plan prepared with the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation. The public comment period runs through the end of July. Clearly the plan is a sign that bicycles are getting a lot more attention in planning transportation in Milwaukee. Here are my comments on the plan:

Bike boulevards. I really like the concept. I think they will do a lot to encourage people to bike (and also strengthen neighborhoods). With that in mind, here are a few more suggestions:

* An east-side alternative to the Prospect/Farwell bike lanes (which
have fairly fast traffic and are often blocked by double-parked
delivery vehicles). Starting at the Urban Ecology Center, it would
go south on Newhall, then switch over to Warren, ending at Ogden.
I took it home from the public meeting. It had little traffic. The
major issues are crossing Brady and North. Also the one-way
streets north of Brady.
* Jefferson St. between the Third Ward and Ogden/Water. Already
interrupted in several places. The sidewalks need to be widened.
Perhaps a place for a cycle track. The tunnel under I794 is narrow
when pedestrians are walking to parking.
* 51st St on the south side. Already has many of the properties of a
bike boulevard with the interruptions at the KK Parkway, the
Morgan/Forest Home triangle, and in Greenfield. A place where joint
planning with Greenfield and West Allis would be useful.
* Keefe/Townsend from Humboldt to Dineen Park

I real bike desert is the far northwest side. I would hope that at least one of the north-south roads connecting to Mequon would be marked for future improvement, with decent shoulders at the very least.

While Roosevelt Blvd itself is very nice, both ends are problematic. Perhaps this is a place where the bicyclist could be directed to use the sidewalk (as in Madison and Evanston). In any case, I think a bike plan should not leave a bicyclist hanging.

I am bothered by the number of proposed bike paths that are shown as existing (also a problem with the free bike map). These include the Beer Line trail between North and Locust and between Locust and Burleigh, the KK trail (page 24 describes it as existing) along Rosedale, several proposed branches of the Hank Aaron trail (as well as HAST routes on roads), and a proposed rail conversion south of Washington. Perhaps these should be converted to yellow on the maps, so it is clear they are proposed trails (perhaps proposed county trails could also be shown, to see how they would fit in, as well as any proposals from suburbs).

I would like to see more discussion on the effect of traffic signals on bicyclists. Particular problems are inaccessible walk buttons (or ones that don’t work), buried sensors that don’t detect bicycles (all of them, in my experience), and the very long signal cycle time that seems standard in Wisconsin. (I recently spent a few days bicycling in Chico, CA and was struck that the typical signal seemed less than half that in Milwaukee. There was much less temptation to run the light. A signal on a trail went to yellow for the cars as soon as I pushed it.)

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News