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Linn County Leader - Brookfield, MO
Walking and bicycling for transportation, fitness, and fun
Kirksville's bike/ped improvements
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About this blog
By Rachel Ruhlen

My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the ...

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Bicycling and Walking Around

My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the joys, the freedom, the benefits, and, yes, the challenges of bicycling and walking for transportation.

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A sharrow indicates that bicycles need to use the full lane.
A sharrow indicates that bicycles need to use the full lane.
By Rachel Ruhlen
June 4, 2013 2:09 p.m.



Even if you don't bicycle you might have noticed some changes around town. The city is giving Franklin St. a facelift. Franklin St. improvements include new sidewalks with midblock steps to the street and ADA-accessible ramps at intersections. The faded bike lanes have bright new paint, and instead of just ending, there are now sharrows to indicate where bicyclists will be riding.

Sharrows are increasingly common these days. While a bicycle can operate in the full lane on any street in Kirksville and on any road in Missouri that does not have a minimum speed limit, sharrows indicate that bicyclists frequently use the street and that they should use the full lane. The road might be too narrow for a bicyclist to move over to the right or it might be dangerous for other reasons for bicyclists to ride too far to the right. On Franklin St., that reason is side street parking. Parked cars could back out into a bicyclist, and riding in the middle of the lane gives the parked driver and the bicyclist more room to see each other and more space to maneuver.

The sharrows make an interesting contrast to the unfriendly "NO BIKES" signs on the sidewalk corners! Several people have been confused by those signs. "Bicycles aren't allowed downtown," I've heard. Bicycles are allowed downtown, but should ride on the streets, not the sidewalks. Not only is it a nuisance for pedestrians, shoppers, and storekeepers to avoid bicyclists on sidewalks, it is safer for bicyclists to ride on streets than on sidewalks because of the frequency of bike-car collisions where sidewalks cross driveways, alleys, parking lots, and intersections. However, I hope we get friendlier "WALK YOUR BIKE" signs as the stern "NO BIKES" signs fade!

Franklin St. isn't the only place I've seen changes. The city parks now have bike racks.

"Why is the city spending my tax dollars on frivolous bike/ped projects when the economy is so bad?" some folks may ask. First, I do not accept the premise that bike/ped projects are frivolous. A great time to spend money on bike/ped projects is when the economy is bad, because such projects have been shown in studies to improve local economy. The reasons for this aren't entirely clear, but probably involve making business areas more accessible, encouraging patrons to spend more time in them, and decreasing the amount spent in gas allowing that money to be spent in stores.

In designing the Franklin St. project, the city looked at other cities' successes in downtown revitalization.

Second, federal and TIF money fund these improvements. The city's contribution is mainly staff time, labor, and a commitment to future maintenance.

So you can rest easy that our city dollars go to police officers and street repair, not concrete for new sidewalks. But even if the city were paying for new sidewalks, they would more than pay for themselves in improving public health and economic recovery.

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