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Helmut Schmidt, Published May 12 2010

Fargo plans to stripe bicycle lanes

Fargo city engineers and planners were peddling a plan Tuesday that aims to get commuters safely to work or school on two wheels rather than four.

The city plans to re-stripe several street segments this summer with bicycle lanes; some in the downtown area and others in a roughly three-mile chain west toward the apartment complexes just north of the West Acres area.

It will cost about $100,000 to stripe six bike-lane miles to help bike commuters get around town, said Jeremy Gorden, senior engineer for transportation.

“We’re getting into the business of striped on-road bike lanes,” Gorden said. “This is the first striping project that will take us there.”

At least two dozen people showed up at a public comment session at City Hall to eyeball the bike route plans and to pick their favorite options.

“I like the idea,” said Mark Cramton. “They’ve got to start small.”

“I like them all. I think they’re well-designed,” said Paul Froeschle, a North Dakota State University employee who logs 4,000 miles a year on his bike.

Stephanie Falkers, an NDSU senior, said it was exciting to see some of the connections. She regularly commutes by bike between where she lives in south Fargo and school.

“It was interesting and cool,” she said.

Members of the Fargo South High School bicycle club also stopped by.

Chelsea Kaiser and Kelsey Dale, both seniors, said more bike lanes – and safety education for bikers and drivers – would make the roads safer.

“It’s really cramped” on some roads, Dale said.

“It would be a lot less traumatic” biking with marked lanes, Kaiser said. “They’d (cars) have their own little way, and we’d have our own little way.”

Streets too narrow for striping will get signs marking them for shared bike and vehicle use, Gorden said.

Other bike routes that could be striped in 2011 and 2012 are the north-south 10th Street North and North University Drive corridors between NDSU’s main campus and downtown halls, and the east-west arterials First Avenue North and NP Avenue downtown, Gorden said.

Fourth Street between Lindenwood Park and 12th Avenue North is also being considered for bike signs and striping, he said.

Gorden said re-striping the roads is a cost-effective way to get more use out of a road. The alternative is to build a bike path at $250,000 a mile. And that can’t always be done because of trees, utilities or other obstacles.

Gorden said the projects will be bid later this month or in June.

“We’re becoming a more active community. More people are walking and running and biking,” City Commissioner Mike Williams said.

He predicts the city’s bike network will grow quickly after the NDSU commuting and downtown one-way corridors studies are released.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of progress in the next few months,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583