There are bike lanes, and then there are buffered bike lanes, separated bike lanes, bike boulevards, shared bike lanes and side paths.
And the roads in Lincoln’s future could be paved with all of them.
City planners and consultants have released a draft of the Lincoln Bike Plan -- a detailed map with nearly 120 miles of proposed on-street bike passages designed to get cyclists safely around the city.
“We’re not proposing to change the whole network significantly,” said transportation planner Kellee Van Bruggen. “We’re concentrating on what makes sense, those that are low impact, low cost.”
Still, the proposals, which could take more than a decade to fully implement, would nearly double Lincoln’s on-street cycling network, and introduce new types of bike passages to the city’s cyclists.
The map was drafted by a Denver-based consulting firm hired by the planning department and the Metropolitan Planning Organization in December at a cost of $166,000 -- with most of that paid by federal funding.
The consultants asked for input from cyclists and others, and more than 400 people weighed in.
“Where people are currently riding, or where they’re experiencing barriers, or where they’d like to ride but want more enhancements,” she said.
They also studied the streets, she said: the width of roadways, traffic volume and speed, desired destination points.
“They took all of those pieces of the puzzle, they put them together and came up with this draft proposal.”
The map includes 136 recommendations, most of them in the core of the city.
Bike boulevards -- New to Lincoln, and most often used on lower-traffic, lower-speed residential routes. They use traffic-calming treatments -- diverters, speed humps, medians, pavement markers and signs -- to emphasize cycling and prevent nonlocal vehicles from cutting through.
The consultants proposed nearly 11 miles of bike boulevards, including L Street from 27th to near CHI St. Elizabeth; B Street from Fourth to 27th; and Sumner from 14th to near 70th.
Bike routes, also known as shared lanes -- These are the simplest because they’re marked only with signs, and they make up nearly half of the draft network, with 48 miles proposed (adding to the 52 existing miles).
Proposed stretches include Eighth Street from H to Van Dorn; D Street from 28th to 56th; West Dawes from First to Cornhusker; and the single longest proposal, 3.7 miles on streets south of Yankee Hill between 63rd and Moore Middle School.
Separated bike lanes -- Bike lanes physically separated from vehicles. Think N Street Cycle Track, just not as fancy; barriers can be as simple as plastic pylons, potted plants or parking spaces.
The consultants proposed more than 8 miles of separated lanes, including 11th and 14th streets from J Street through downtown, and R Street from 12th to 16th.
Bike lanes -- Cyclists share the road but stay in lanes set off by a painted stripe. The city has a half-mile of bike lanes -- on 11th and 14th downtown -- and consultants are proposing nearly 13 miles more, including: P and Q from 16th to 25th; Holdrege from 21st to 26th; and Transformation Drive through Innovation Campus.
Buffered bike lanes -- Similar to bike lanes, but with painted buffers between cyclists and vehicles. The city has less than a half-mile now -- on 16th Street through campus -- and is proposing nearly 10 more miles.
New stretches would include 16th and 17th streets from F Street through downtown; Sheridan Boulevard from Lake to 44th; and 21st between G and O.
Side paths -- Wide sidewalks that can accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, like the stretches already along South 84th and Old Cheney Road. Proposals include G Street from Sixth to Lincoln High; 70th from the MoPac crossing to Old Post Road; and West A from the Salt Creek bridge to Southwest 40th.
Intersection enhancements -- The consultants identified 24 intersections for improvements, which can range from a crossing beacon to a bridge.
The planners and consultants aren’t finished. Now they’ve asked for feedback on the network, holding an open house earlier this week and leaving the interactive map online until Sept. 12, so cyclists and others can leave comments and suggestions.
It’s already drawn dozens of thoughts, such as:
“Anywhere buffered bike lanes are proposed, consider upgrading to protected bike lanes. The difference in level of stress is huge and worth the investment …”
“I don't see anything proposed that will make South street from 9th to 17th -- one of the most dangerous spots in the city in terms of number of car-bike collisions -- any safer.”
“Any duplication of the separated path on N Street is a mistake. N Street path is an overpriced underused monstrosity. The tax payers will not tolerate another N Street bike path.”
“For the record, as a taxpayer I will tolerate the hell out of another N Street-style bike lane.”
And they can expect the Lincoln Independent Business Association to get involved, too. The group sent an email to its members Wednesday, inviting them to join a committee to discuss the recommendations.
The group doesn’t oppose bike lanes, it said. “But we believe there needs to be a larger discussion on how to add safe bike lanes without reducing lanes for vehicular traffic, particularly on busy arterial streets.”
The group’s director of policy and research, Dustin Antonello, said later that day they have some concerns with the plan, but he didn’t want people to think LIBA was anti-cycling.
“We want to make sure we’re working together as a community, that we’re not just putting in bike lanes to put in bike lanes, but they’re safe for both vehicles and cyclists.”
The consultants will consider the comments and make changes if necessary, Van Bruggen said. Then they’ll release a draft plan and again seek feedback.
The final plan should be out in late fall. But construction could be a long way off for some of the projects. The proposals will be prioritized, the schedules for some prompted by street construction.
She didn’t have cost estimates yet.
“This a 10-plus-year plan,” she said. “We don’t plan on doing all this overnight.”