Life in the bike lane

City of Coeur d'Alene considers major changes on 15th Street

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Kyle Hinson, 12, navigates his way between his classmates walking from Lakes Magnet Middle School along 15th Street after school Thursday. The City of Coeur d'Alene is considering adding bicycles lanes between Sherman Avenue on Interstate 90 on 15th Street.

COEUR d'ALENE - Re-centering, re-striping, adding bike lanes and a traffic signal, and doing away with parking.

The city of Coeur d'Alene is considering some major changes on 15th Street from Sherman Avenue to Interstate 90, including adding bicycle lanes to both sides of the street on the popular riding route.

"Bikers are going to ride it," said Monte McCully, city trail coordinator. "Since there's such a need the city is looking to provide that for them."

To put in the lanes, the city would re-center and re-stripe the median, which hugs closer to the west side of the street than the east on portions of the road. The change would include taking away all parking on the east side of the street in that stretch.

If the city adopts the idea, the makeover could happen this summer. It had been looking at the idea for a while because of safety concerns on the street.

On an average autumn day, the street typically sees more than 100 bikers.

Cyclists make up around 2.5 percent of its overall traffic, well above the 1.5 national average for biked streets in bicycle-friendly cities.

The lanes should help cyclists and cars navigate the road together, and keep the cyclists from the sidewalks where they can be difficult to spot for drivers backing out of driveways.

"I still don't know if there's room," said 15th Street resident Bob Eachon, on cyclists and motorists co-existing on the street. "It's too narrow. Sometimes it scares me to death."

McCully also said that studies show drivers tend to drive slower on roads with bike lanes marked out.

"It's pretty sketchy, nobody really knows where they should be," said Al Casile, a cyclist who pedals the road three times a week and has had a few near-miss accidents. "Just in the terms of safety it's a good thing putting in the lanes. I just want it to become a safer road for everyone that uses it."

The lanes are especially needed because of the children riding to and from school in the area and Cherry Hill Park, said neighborhood resident Chris Bosley.

The idea should go before a city committee May 10, and possibly on to the City Council for discussion after that.

The city is also on track to put in a traffic signal at the intersection of 15th Street and Harrison Avenue, and will widen the street in the area this summer, the city's engineering department said.

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