City council approves painted bike lanes

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

The Brookings City Council unanimously approved the proposal by the Students’ Association to look at bicycle routes throughout the city and get a plan hammered out to start putting them in this spring.

“I think it’s a great project,” Council member Ryan Brunner said. “It’s something we can easily support and extend in the future.”

SA President Chris Daugaard and Vice President Eric Hanson explained the proposal to the City Council at the group’s meeting Oct. 14.

Having bike lanes not only on campus, but throughout the city, Daugaard said, would be beneficial for all.

“This type of development provides the city with an image of very forward thinking,” he said. “These are not bike trails. These bike lanes are ? a viable transportation option.”

The bike lanes would also help with traffic flow and safety, so bicyclers would not be jumping out in front of traffic or disobeying traffic laws.

“I don’t feel it’s right to tell a rider to follow the rules of the road when we don’t provide them with a safe place to ride,” Daugaard said. “Bike lanes are the safest places for riders to ride. ? When it’s easy to ride a bike, people will do it.”

After seeing “virtually a doubling of bike traffic this fall,” according to Daugaard, the SA is already working with the Physical Plant to have lane striping and marked signs up on some campus streets before the first snow, with other streets having lanes added as well in the spring.

Daugaard and Hanson presented a plan to the council that included a Phase One for bike routes to possibly begin this spring. The bike lanes would connect to bike lanes planned on campus streets and extend along most of Eighth Street and parts of 10th and 11th Streets, 12th Avenue East and 22nd Avenue. Phase One would also include bike routes through the Safe Routes to School Grant Application for the south side of Brookings.

The entire drafted proposal plan has bike routes connecting the north, south, east and west parts of the city, as well as lanes connecting with the recreational bike trails.

Daugaard said they had met with people in the private sector, who are agreeable to the proposed bike lanes.

“There’s a lot of interest and financial support for something like this in the private sector,” he said.

The council members expressed excitement for the proposal.

“I think it just comes down to it’s the right thing to do,” Deputy Mayor Tim Reed said.

Council member Tom Bezdichek said that he is “looking forward to seeing this go through,” but he would also like to see a bike exchange or bike rental pilot program discussed as a possibility along with these bike lanes. He also suggested that it would be nice to see if the campus police would endorse this plan as well by riding bicycles around during the day and during tailgating before football games.

“There’s nothing more meaningful than seeing the authorities do this,” Bezdichek said.

There was some concern from the council about the overall cost. According to the project proposal draft, an estimate would mean the entire project would cost nearly $387,272.

There were also concerns about exactly which streets would have bike lanes and removing parking to make room for the lanes, though Daugaard said they have taken parking into account in their proposal and tried to minimize the parking issues.

“This is a huge quality of life issue for the community,” City Manager Jeff Weldon said. “What I would suggest is that we continue to work over the winter months with the SA. We want to make sure we follow through with this with due diligence and get it right.”