Tosa leaders considering colored bike lanes, changes to North Avenue

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by Lane Kimble

WAUWATOSA -- North Avenue in East Town Tosa is quickly becoming a popular place to eat, shop and live.  That means more people passing through in cars and on bikes.  The city wants to make sure people on two wheels get where they're going in one piece.

"Well, most people avoid it," Wisconsin Bike Federation's Dave Schlabowske said.

Schlabowske lives just a few blocks from North Avenue and rides his bike daily.

"I'm pretty fearless, so I'll go down it myself," Schlabowske said.  "I don't let my daughter, who is 18, she generally doesn't ride on it."

Rapid growth from restaurants and stores led to more traffic here, so when Dave learned the city is working to put in special bike lanes and make changes to the road markings, he got on board.

"It tells bicyclists where they belong, it tells motorists to expect bicyclists to be on the road and everyone just gets along better," Schlabowske said.

City leaders want to paint bike lanes green, paint crosswalks a different color and add special "bike boxes", giving riders space to turn left across traffic.  The city also plans to remove most left-turn-only lanes that alternate every other block.

"You put white or green bike lanes in it narrows the street and makes a calming effect for car traffic," Wauwatosa Alderman Bobby Pantuso said.

Pantuso has helped design the project for the last five years.  The plan would use special paint and "thermoplastic", which costs more than water-based paint, but should last longer.

"If you go down the road when it's a little damp out, the white lines just kind of disappear on the horizon and this will make that stick out a lot better so people see the lanes and look for bikers," Pantuso said.

The project will cost $1.5 million and maintenance costs will add to that, but Pantuso thinks it's money well spent.

"You look for the lanes and you want the lanes there and you have that opportunity to show that there's a lane there and teach them a little bit about how the bike lanes are supposed to work," Pantuso said.  "It's definitely worth it."

The full city council will take up this plan Tuesday night and could vote on it then.  If approved, the work could begin as soon as July 1st and would take six to eight weeks to finish.

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