Sharrows on Sidewalks?

Generally speaking, bikes on sidewalks are not a good idea, but a federally funded project in Duluth, Minnesota may cause planners to take a second look at the practice.

2 minute read

August 5, 2016, 7:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Sidewalk widenings in downtowns have generally been done for commercial purposes, e.g., Castro Street streetscape improvement in San Francisco, Burlingame Avenue streetscape improvement in a suburb just south of the city, and California Avenue sidewalk widening in Palo Alto.

Other than adding new bike racks to the widened sidewalks, the idea was to accommodate more pedestrians, add al fresco dining, and generally make the business districts more inviting and walkable. So it was interesting to see a midwestern sidewalk widening project, financed in part with a federal grant, no less, design the project from a multimodal perspective.

"Eight to 10 feet wide and surfacing in strategic locations in Duluth, a transportation evolution is arriving this summer with the advent of what St. Louis County engineers are calling 'super sidewalks,'" reports Forum News Service for the The Bemidji Pioneer.

“They’re wide, so you can have somebody Rollerblading and biking and passing each other with plenty of room,” said Steve Krasaway, resident engineer of a 1.7-mile stretch of Rice Lake Road that’s currently being outfitted with a super sidewalk beginning at Marshall School. 

The $1.1 million project is being funded with federal money and transportation sales tax revenue, a county news release said last month.

Improving bicycling safety by ceding roads to cars?

“I’m excited to see this kind of safe, separated place for people to ride bikes,” said Brian Downing, 28, of Duluth, who is a member of the Duluth Bikes advocacy group and the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition

“Everybody can use them at the same time with no conflicts, and it keeps them off the road,” added Krasaway.

Duluth was rated as Bicycle Friendly Community by the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota in 2014.

A recent Planetizen feature addressed the controversial issue of Bicyclists on Sidewalks: Why They're Not Going Away, and What We Can Do About It."

An earlier post based on an op-ed co-written by PeopleForBikes and America Walks suggested the best way to get bikes off sidewalks was to construct protected bicycle lanes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 in The Bemidji Pioneer

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