Posted: Jul 4, 2012 5:56 PM by Erin Schermele - MTN
Updated: Jul 4, 2012 6:28 PM
GREAT FALLS - John Juras has spent the last four years working to increase safety for bicyclists and cars, and he's hoping the city will include improvements for bicyclists in a plan to re-pave Ninth Street.
Juras said in 20 years, the city has only added one designated bicycle route, on 10th Avenue Southwest.
Juras and others "Complete Streets" advocates are capitalizing on an opportunity to connect the rest of the city with the River's Edge Trail.
"What we are asking for is a bike route between River Drive on Ninth Street all the way to 17th Avenue South," Juras said. "It's what shows in the transportation plan as a bike lane type of route."
Since Ninth Street is part of a pavement preservation project, the time is now for the city to decide whether to expand bicycle amenities.
Andrew Finch, a senior transportation planner for the city, said bicyclists' safety is paramount.
"We will take a hard look at if it's not only feasible but if it's going to be safe for the drivers and the folks using any bike lanes," Finch said.
The city can't afford to widen Ninth Street, so Juras and others suggest the city add a "sharrow," which is more narrow than a bike lane but denotes specific spots for cyclists and motorists.
Juras said the biggest challenge on Great Falls streets is when cyclists and drivers don't know what to do. "You get a lot of bicyclists going the wrong way against traffic or speeding by on the sidewalk, and that's much more dangerous than having them ride with the traffic, basically acting like a car," he said.