June 10, 2021 – West Bend, WI – New bike route signs and painted road symbols (sharrows) on an 8-mile loop around West Bend is courtesy Bike Friendly West Bend. It is a project that’s been in the works since 2016 and it has finally come to fruition.
The green and white bike route signs with arrows are visible on University Drive, and Chestnut Street. The “sharrows” have been painted in that area as well.
Craig Walker is with Bike Friendly West Bend. “We’re trying to set up a safer route,” he said. “If we can get bikers to follow the same route and improve visibility to cars.
“We were trying to send bicyclists to lower traffic locations that don’t have crazy hills. We wanted an east-west route with moderate hills.”
Jeff Puetz with Bike Friendly said the placement of the sharrows is determined by the City which is following the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. “The symbols are about 200 to 250 feet apart,” he said. “Mostly the sharrows are about awareness for motorists that there will be cyclists in the lane of travel. This is turning out exactly as the plan was laid out.”
According to Walker the signs and initial painting of the sharrows are courtesy Bike Friendly.
The labor to install the signs and sharrows is being completed by City employees. Doug Newmann, director of Public Works, said it should take about two weeks to get all the sharrows painted.
“I was kind of surprised the number of locations they mapped out,” said Walker. “But I think the reason is more is better in those cases because motorists tend to ignore that stuff.”
The white sharrows are painted on the road about 8-feet from the curb. The sharrows are about 9-feet long and will be on both sides of the road along the 8-mile route.
Although Bike Friendly is picking up the initial cost, repainting the sharrows will come at taxpayer expense. “I think it will be about $5,000 to repaint every three years,” said Puetz.
District 5 Aldermen Jed Dolnick and District 3 alderman Brett Bergquist voted against approving the first phase of the trail.
Dolnick said the shared-lane markings (sharrows) provide a false sense of security. “A driver who doesn’t see a bicyclist right in front of them isn’t going to be any more attentive to markings on a street. We learned this lesson with ‘Slow-Children’ signs, and stopped using them.”
There have been other questions about the signs including one on Decorah near the Eisenbahn Trail that directs bikers to “use the sidewalk.”
Aldermen who voted in favor of the signs and symbols for the bike loop include Dist. 1 John Butschlick, Dist. 2 Mark Allen, Dist. 4 Randy Koehler, Dist. 6 Steve Hoogester, Dist. 7 Justice Madl, Dist. 8 Meghann Kennedy.
Several other aldermen were contacted about the project. Most said they hadn’t seen the signs or sharrows yet. Those reviews will be posted when information becomes available.
Bike Friendly has proposed three more routes. Those routes will have to go before the Common Council for approval.
Click HERE for a list of phone numbers and emails to let elected officials know your opinion of the new bike loop in West Bend.