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Milwaukee gets its first green bike lane installed in Riverwest

The green plastic panels are bonded to the asphalt to denote a high conflict location where bikes and cars are both turning and need to be made more aware of each other.
The green plastic panels are bonded to the asphalt to denote a high conflict location where bikes and cars are both turning and need to be made more aware of each other. Credit: Michael Sears
Aug. 27, 2014
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By Jason Silverstein

Aug. 27, 2014 0

Big news for bicyclists in Milwaukee: Two bike lanes in the area are going green.

The first green bike lane was installed Tuesday in the Riverwest neighborhood. Another will be installed in Wauwatosa.

The green lane in Milwaukee is at the intersection of N. Humboldt Blvd. and E. Locust St., and it is broken into three segments of about 150 feet each. It was placed there as part of a paving project on Humboldt.

The intersection was chosen because it's a "conflict zone" for cyclists and motorists, said Dave Schlabowske, deputy director of the Wisconsin Bike Federation.

"It's a very popular bike route that also sees a high number of drivers," Schlabowske said. "It makes sense to put a green lane there."

The Wauwatosa lane, which will be on W. North Ave. between N. 60th and N. 76th streets, will be done in mid-September, according to William Porter, director of public works in Wauwatosa.

Green bike lanes are now in more than 50 cities across 24 states, including New York, Chicago and Portland, Ore., according to the website People for Bikes. The distinctively colored lanes give a designated space and greater visibility to bikers on busy roads. Madison already has several of the lanes, but this is the first time other cities in Wisconsin followed suit.

The bike lanes come just weeks after Milwaukee introduced Bublr, its first bike-share company, which has 10 stations around the city. Schlabowske said the green lanes are another path to make Milwaukee more bike-friendly.

"It's an incremental step forward," he said. "Bicycling is growing, and I think community leaders are finally seeing that demand."

Some cities paint the green lanes onto the street, but the city used preformed thermoplastic panels for the Riverwest lane at a cost of about $15,000, according to Kristin Bennett, Milwaukee's bicycle transportation coordinator.

Bennett said the city chose the more expensive thermoplastic option because the material ensured "a longevity of more than five years."

She said the city is now looking into other intersections that have been recently repaved to see if other streets might follow the plastic green road in the near future.

Twitter: @jaysunsilver

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