(ST. LOUIS) KMOV.com – In less than six months more than 45,000 drivers will be displaced when Kingshighway closes from Shaw to Vandeventer, but right now it’s cyclists that are concerned for their safety.
As part of the Bike St. Louis project, buffered bike lanes were supposed to be installed on Tower Grove Avenue ahead of the closure, but that project has now been delayed and the cycling community has started a petition to Mayor Francis Slay in an effort to get those lanes sooner.
“Cyclists really need the bike infrastructure the most when traffic is most heavy. So for the city to consider the safety of cyclists and the convenience of drivers and decide that they want to put an additional driving lane in, it’s just a problem for us as cyclist,” explained Matt Wyczalkowski, a bike advocate.
Instead of creating the buffered bike lanes as originally scheduled, the city is putting that plan on pause until after the start of the Kingshighway closure which is set to begin in early 2015. They are creating a road diet and creating an extra lane during peak hours of the day by limiting parking. The painted bikable shoulder will be available during those peak times but cyclists are still able to ride on the road during all hours.
“Every lane is a bike lane,” Maggie Crane, a spokesperson for the City of St. Louis explained.
Crane said there will also be two designated alternative routes for bikers during the closure with signs prominently posted.
According to Wyczalkowski, Tower Grove Avenue is the busiest cycling route in St. Louis and so far 350 people have signed the petition.
“I’m worried about all cyclist, especially the newer and younger cyclists. The problem with the proposal, cyclist will have to weave in and out of cars during heavy traffic to get where they want to go. It’s a danger for cyclist and drivers,” Wyczalkowski said.
But the city says this is a “temporary setback” and said they plan to evaluate the traffic patterns once Kingshighway closes. Depending on which routes the 45,000 drivers chose while Kingshighway is closed, will depend on how quickly they can begin Phase III of the Bike St. Louis Project and put in those lanes as planned.