Remaking the Streets of Milwaukee for Bikes and a Changing Population
Milwaukee is undertaking a large-scale repair and update of its streets according to Dave Schlabowske in Urban Milwaukee. "The repairs are designed to last seven to 10 years, and the city has been able to resurface more than 60 miles of streets," Schlabowske tell us. Most of these streets include bike lanes.
Like many cities in the Midwest, Milwaukee's population has been flat or shrinking for more than 50 years. So many of these streets don’t carry the previous volume of traffic and are in need of modernization. "When an arterial street is resurfaced as part of the rapid fix program, the city evaluates current traffic volumes and is able to make some geometric updates if needed using the new pavement marking patterns. In many cases these roadways were widened decades ago to serve our then growing traffic volumes during Milwaukee’s industrial heyday when thousands of factory workers began driving to work in large factories," Schlaboske reports. These modernizations include making lanes more narrow to reduce speed of cars and to protect pedestrians, as well as adding bike lanes and making other improvements.
Schlabowske, who is involved with the Bike Federation of Wisconsin, says, "We applaud that commitment, but look forward to the first new protected bike lanes, neighborhood greenways network (sometimes called bicycle boulevards, or safe streets) or other next generation bicycle improvements to encourage more people to ride in Milwaukee." I agree.