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Hello, green: Centennial Mall bike lane design gets OK

Hello, green: Centennial Mall bike lane design gets OK

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Bright green dashed lines will mark the city's new bike lane as it crosses Centennial Mall on N Street. 

The Kermit-colored crosswalks are part of the design for a protected bike lane that stretches 16 blocks from the West Haymarket to Antelope Valley along N Street. The Capitol Environs Commission, a group that oversees the mall, has given its preliminary endorsement to the project.

The green color, as opposed to the traditional white crosswalk, tells drivers and pedestrians to watch out for bikes. 

Alta, a planning and design firm from Portland, Ore., is heading up the project. Construction could begin in April with completion sometime in August of next year.

Thursday, committee members got a look at the newly released design that includes 12 feet of space for a two-way bike lane, a seven- to nine-foot median with plantings, nine feet of parallel parking up against the median, two lanes of traffic and angled parking.

One lane of traffic will be removed along N from 11th to 22nd streets.

Other features of the bike lane include a "traffic box," which allows bikers a safe place to wait to turn. The box, which is also filled in with green paint, will be protected by medians. 

Bike-specific traffic signals would be installed for eastbound bike traffic. Westbound cyclists, going the same way as cars along N Street, would follow the regular vehicular traffic signals. 

John Kay, who is a project manager with Sinclair Hille and sits on the Capitol Commission, said good design will only be part of the battle.

"Education on how they work -- for bikes, pedestrians and drivers -- will be important," he said. "It will also require proper enforcement of the rules for it to work."

The lanes have been a source of controversy among cyclists, drivers and others.

Among the benefits: a safer, more efficient corridor for bikers. Advocates say a bike lane isolated from traffic will encourage more casual riders to ride to work or downtown. It also will be the first dedicated east/west route from downtown to the rest of the city's trail connections.

Among the concerns: the estimated $1.3 million cost, loss of parking spaces and the bike lanes' effect on traffic. 

The project is being paid for with city funds in conjunction with grants and $200,000 from the Great Plains Trail Network.

Construction bids will go out in November or December, according to city officials. 

Reach Jordan Pascale at 402-473-7120, jpascale@journalstar.com or follow him on Twitter: @LJSPascale.

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