Bicycle riders, begin to rejoice.
Mayor Tom Henry announced three pilot projects Saturday that could place bicycle lanes through several main arteries of the city this year. The announcement drew applause from more than 100 bicycle riders who packed a conference room of the Allen County Public Library.
The gathering was part of the Fort Wayne Bike Summit, and the announcement of the projects came on the heels of a survey the city conducted last fall that was answered by thousands. Their message: They wanted to ride their bikes.
To work, to the park, throughout the city, it didn’t matter where, Henry said. People said they wanted to ride their bikes everywhere. But the lack of lanes caused safety concerns, according to Henry.
Bicycles reduce congestion on our streets, improve air quality by being not low-emissions, but no-emissions and give bike riders a built-in workout, Henry said. Better bicycle infrastructure is really a solution to many of our urban challenges.
The bike lanes will be built on Wayne and Berry streets, in the Reed Road area and along Rudisill Boulevard. The projects will be mainly financed with federal money and require a minimum of taxpayer dollars and pavement construction, Henry said.
The proposal for Rudisill, a four-lane road, will remove a through lane on each side and make a center turn-only lane for vehicles all the way along the street. Bike lanes will be placed on each side of the road from Foster Park to McMillen Park. The city has applied for stimulus funding for Rudisill to be repaved, a must for the plan.
Shan Gunawardena, city traffic engineer, said the Rudisill project could cost about $1 million and Rudisill would go on a road diet, causing a few delays.
It will take some getting used to, he said.
The city, though, called that part of the project a win-win by improving safety for drivers and bicyclists. Gunawardena said the center turn lane will allow drivers a safe place to initiate a turn on some of the side streets, whereas they would stop in a through lane otherwise.
The city might decide to add more lanes if the changes work well, city spokesman Rachel Blakeman said. And though they’re called pilot projects, there’s no danger of the lanes disappearing after a short time, she said.
The lanes are to be there for the long haul, she said.