Click here to review the report created by BWCF board member, Rick Geller, highlighting the details of this project.
Winter Park balks at double bike lanes near school
Winter Park attorney Rick Geller and a group of parents are pushing the city to build a double bike lane by Brookshire Elementary because they contend it would be easier and safer for students to ride to school.
But Winter Park officials are balking at the idea, arguing it is expensive, could inconvenience bus drivers and might encourage youngsters to ride their bikes against traffic rather than with it, as is customary.
The conflict over a half-mile stretch of Cady Way by Showalter Field and Ward Park is not unusual in Central Florida, where transportation experts, government officials and residents are trying to figure out ways to blend biking and walking with roads built almost exclusively for cars.
Even within the biking community there is a disagreement over whether bike lanes are a good idea. Some riders argue it is safer in the middle of the lane where motorists can better see cyclists rather than being shunted to the side, where bike lanes typically are.
But Geller and his backers say children are inexperienced on bikes and need separation from cars. That’s why they are proposing what is called a cycle track, or two bike lanes together — each going in opposite directions — with plastic poles marking the outer edge.
“There would be an improvement in safety,” said Geller, who has a petition with 160 signatures supporting his plan. “I want to see more kids riding to school.”
Geller has two daughters at the school. He said they occasionally ride to school — but only when he is with them — because he worries about the traffic.
Cady Way carries about 5,000 cars and trucks daily and can become crowded when parents drop off and pick up their children. About 600 youngsters attend Brookshire.
Winter Park’s public works director Troy Attaway said he has concerns about Geller’s plan but is not ruling it out.
“I can’t guarantee we’ll go one way or the other,” Attaway said.
Cady Way, Attaway said, already has bike lanes on either side of the road, and he is not sure that the cycle track is enough of an upgrade to be worth spending $54,000, the estimated price of the work. The Winter Park Health Foundation has offered a $17,200 grant to help offset the cost, while a city beautification group has pledged another $10,000.
“If I’ve got $30,000, I think there are more important things to spend that on than changing things on Cady Way,” Attaway said.
A report on the cycle track proposal that Attaway and city traffic manager Butch Margraf produced concluded that $54,000 could be used to build 3/4 of a mile of sidewalks in other unspecified parts of Winter Park, “providing a true benefit to the residents.”
The two also say the dual lanes could take up too much road, making it difficult for buses to get out of the school grounds.
And because the cycle track lanes are side-by-side, some of the children would be riding against traffic. Cyclists are supposed to ride in the same direction as cars.
That’s a big worry, too, for MetroPlan bike advocate Mighk Wilson, who has decided there is no need for a cycle track. He said his records indicate there have been no collisions between bikes and cars on Cady Way during the past 10 years.
Amanda Day, who runs Bike/Walk Central Florida, said her group supports Geller. A cycle track, she said, would work on Cady Way, though not necessarily on other streets.
“Is it safe? Does it make sense?” she said. “None of this is a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Geller dismissed the city’s objections, saying a small realignment of the curb could accommodate buses. Cycle tracks, he added, have been installed in other cities and are very popular. “You need to have facilities for everyone,” Geller said.
By: Dan Tracy
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