Bike box and bike boulevard could be coming to Eau Claire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Bike box and bike boulevard could be coming to Eau Claire

Eau Claire (WQOW) - Already considered a bike-friendly city, Eau Claire could take that title to a whole new level, or at least to a new road.

The city is thinking outside the box by focusing on what's called a bike box.

That's one idea being considered. There's another plan to make an entire street a safe haven for those on two wheels.

The intersection of Keith Street and Brackett Avenue could look very different in the near future, plans for the reconstruction of Brackett call for the addition of a bike box, something Menomonie installed last year.

"How a bike box operates is the pavement is painted green and there is a stop bar behind it so it's a safe zone for bicyclists to occupy,” said City Engineer Dave Solberg. “So a bicycle pulls up into the green space so he or she doesn't have to worry about a vehicle along side of them and it gives them the right of way and sets them apart. And then when get out of the bike box; they occupy the lane or sharrow space."

The plans also call for sharrow space similar to a bike lane along Brackett but it's what would happen at a parallel road two blocks north on Valmont that will really interest cyclers.

“Something that is being done nationwide are these bike boulevards,” said Solberg.

So instead of riding along busy Brackett Ave, bikers will be encouraged to ride on Valmont Street which runs parallel.

“The whole street would be the boulevard,” said Solberg. “But it would still be open to vehicular traffic like it is now. The markings we would use are our bike sharrows that we have on Rudolph and Hamilton but instead of being off to the side of the lanes they would run right down the middle of the lane so the signings and markings help heighten awareness that bicycles use it.”

It's a tool the city says will still get cyclers where they need to go safely.

"It creates more comfort and more confidence that you can occupy the whole street lane when you're on a street with 300 cars a day rather than 18,000 cars a day,” said Solberg.

Educating drivers and bicyclists about the new bike-friendly amenities will be key but the city hopes that like in Menomonie residents pick it up quickly.

“I think the learning curve will be very quick and hopefully they'll fit in with our off street trails and our on street trails,” Solberg said.

Brackett Avenue will get a facelift this summer.

The final plans are still being drawn up and the city council will have the final say on a bike box and bike boulevard for Valmont.

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