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Council OKs lane-sharing plan for bikes

Cars and trucks move along 28th Street after school on Wednesday afternoon. Jed Carlson /

Later this fall, North 28th Street is going to get a new look — new signs and stenciling that denotes bikes share the city street with motorized traffic will be added.

Superior's City Council approved the project that will create awareness of a route from the Millennium Trail to neighborhoods to the east.

"This is really about connections — connections from east to west across the southern part of this town," said Ron Chicka, director of the Metropolitan Interstate Council, which does transportation planning throughout the region. That includes bicycle and pedestrian planning. He said the route would connect the Millennium Trail to Heritage Park and schools in the area.

"It's really important to get something on the road; maybe a more dedicated lane is in the future but this is a start," Chicka said.

With the width of the road, and the traffic count of about 3,000 cars a day on North 28th Street, MIC Senior Planner James Gittemeier said a shared bike lane is appropriate for the area.

While Councilors Dan Olson, Jack Sweeney and Brent Fennessey questioned the safety of having bikes sharing the lane with motorized vehicles, Mayor Jim Paine said bikes can technically use the road in the area now.

"What this does — they're legally allowed to share the lane today — this just makes it more visible to bicyclists and motorists that they have a legitimate right to use that road," Gittemeier said. " ... It sends a message to both. A lower vehicle count, it's not a high vehicle count, is key. There's less opportunity for crashes because of that lower vehicle count."

Creating the shared bike lane is about creating visual awareness that there could be cyclists in the area, Chicka said.

Public Works Director Todd Janigo said in addition to the stencils on the pavement, which will be directly adjacent to the curb because there is no parking on North 28th Street. There will also be signs to alert motorists to the shared bike lane.

"We're trying to get Superior to be more of a bike friendly community," Janigo said. He said now that the Council approved the plan, he anticipates putting in the signs and stencils yet this fall.

"Basically, you can ride anywhere on city streets," Councilor Esther Dalbec said. "I think it's a wise thing to do to show motorists there are people sharing the roadway."