Warsaw eyes bike lanes for Market Street through downtown to connect east and west trails
By Dan Spalding for The Times-Union | Indiana Economic Digest
The city of Warsaw is exploring a unique design for a bike path through the downtown in an effort to connect bike trails on the east and west sides.
Instead of dedicating a lane of traffic exclusively to bikes by using street paint, the city has hired a consultant that is proposing significant changes to a six-block stretch of Market Street from Hickory Street to Columbia Streets.
The idea of connecting bike paths from Winona Lake to the west side of the city is part of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan adopted in 2013.
Specifically, the preliminary proposal would establish “cycle tracks” along the south side of Market Street adjacent to sidewalks. Parallel parking would be on the other side of the pike path and adjacent to traffic lanes.
Another key component of the plan would be the elimination of dedicated left-turn lanes at five intersections along the route.
Consultant Jonathan Mooney of Lochmueller Group introduced the idea Tuesday and offered a refined plan Thursday at city hall before a large crowd, but prefaced his presentation by saying the plan is still very preliminary.
Mooney outlined two versions of the concept. One plan has the bike route at “street level” and would rely on signage, street paint and some type of barriers to clearly separate the bike paths from the traffic lanes. The other, “deemed sidewalk level,” would essentially widen the sidewalk to include room for the bike paths and differentiate with signs.
A rough cost estimate for the street level plan would be between $600,000 to $700,000. The other concept would be twice as expensive, according to Mooney.
The proposal faces approval from various boards before anything could be finalized. There is no timetable or talk of how the city would pay for the changes.
Indiana Department of Transportation would be among the entities that would have to approve the plan because Detroit Street is part of a state highway.
During his presentation, Mooney was asked off-hand if he new of any other communities in Indiana that have adopted such a plan in which the bike path is situated between the sidewalk and parallel parking spaces.
“I’m sure I could certainly come up with a list,” Mooney said.
He added, “There’s also something to be said about being a pioneer … Warsaw’s a pretty progressive community anyway. You guys have a lot going on. It’s good to be ahead of the pack.”
He also spoke of the impact it could have on the city.
“This is a big – not only physical improvement – but a potential economic development driver as well,” he said.
The proposal would eventually meld with improvements on Market Street further to the east. Reconstruction of Market from Argonne Road to Bronson Street was completed about three years ago and includes a much wider sidewalk on the south side to accommodate bike traffic. A second phase of reconstruction from Bronson to Hickory is slated to begin this summer and would also incorporate the wider sidewalk.
The barriers could include planters. Other amenities that could be included along the six blocks are more bike racks, planters and seating, Mooney said.