Finally – bike lanes
Wayne and Berry streets: A lane on each of the one-way streets from South Anthony Boulevard (near the Maumee Pathway) to Thieme Drive and the St. Marys Pathway
Rudisill Boulevard: Lanes in each direction between McMillen Park and Foster Park (and the Rivergreenway)
: Lanes along Reed Road, Vance Avenue and other residential streets to the Tennessee Avenue bridge and the Rivergreenway.
Mayor Tom Henry’s administration is taking a promising step for the city: creating bicycle lanes on city streets.
If other midsize cities in colder climes can make bike lanes work, surely Fort Wayne can. Henry is rightly rolling out the lanes gradually, with three pilot projects on the drawing board for this year.
Despite plans for a dramatic expansion of local trails this year, many portions of the city are still far away from off-street paths, where bicycling is safest. Bike lanes have potential to significantly increase safety for bicyclists and help address the conflicts between motorists and cyclists that have been expressed in letters to the editor. All three of the projects would connect with trails.
The three lane projects Henry has announced will be planned and, if money is secured, completed this year.
The most significant – both in terms of cost and effects on traffic – is most likely the Rudisill Boulevard project. The city plans to reduce Rudisill to one lane in each direction, with a center turn lane and bike lanes on both sides of the street. Existing lanes would be preserved in the busy stretch between Lafayette and Clinton streets.
City officials hope to use federal stimulus money for the lane markings and to repave Rudisill.
The northeast project would connect St. Joseph Township, underserved by trails, with the Rivergreenway system.
Henry announced the proposals at last month’s bicycle summit, and they come at the cusp of an exciting time for local cyclists, walkers and runners. The city and Aboite New Trails hope to build about 10 miles of trails this year, plus state highway projects should add six miles of trail along Indiana 3 and two miles along Indiana 14.
A key project will be the Towpath Trail, connecting the city’s trail system with Aboite trails on a new path along the route of the Wabash and Erie Canal. Much of the work between Rockhill Park and the Lutheran Hospital campus will be completed this year, though it will probably be 2010 before the project is final.
Other key trails planned for this year will be along Covington and Homestead roads. If funding is secured to finance the full projects, they will fill missing links to tie together most of the Aboite trail system.
While the trail plans will greatly expand the opportunities for safe, off-street bicycling, walking and running, many people still must use city streets in areas where trails don’t exist or are inaccessible. Henry is right to launch the bicycle lanes, and city officials should be open to adding more if they are successful.