GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As more bike lanes are installed across Grand Rapids, officials say they plan to address concerns from the public.
While some drivers see the lanes as a nuisance, bikers believe they are a safe solution.
“The bike lanes really make it a lot safer for cyclists,” said Tom Tilma, the executive director for the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition. “They create a space on the road where cyclists can go and the motorists can go and it ends the conflict between cyclists and motorists.”
Bike lanes began popping up in Grand Rapids in 2010, with initially just a half mile of lanes. Now, there are 55 miles of bike lanes and that number is steadily increasing.
“Next June, we are planning to have approximately 70 miles of our system put together, with a master plan that’s closer to 180 miles,” Christopher Zull, the traffic safety manager for the City of Grand Rapids, said.
But the issue of bike lanes sparks a lot of debate on both sides. Many drivers are confused about how they work.
24 Hour News 8 found a couple of areas with problematic bike lanes. On Burton Street at Concord Avenue SE, crews are creating bike lanes on both sides of the road, which means a four-lane road quickly narrows to two lanes. On Lafayette Avenue near Fulton Street, the street is so narrow that cars sometimes park in the bike lanes.
“It’s a learning curve getting used to where the infrastructure is, but parking in a bike lane is not permitted,” said Zull.
City officials hope to address some of the bike lane concerns with a new bicycle safety project aimed at “educating cyclists on the proper way to use the bike infrastructure and educating drivers on what to expect from cyclists,” Zull said.
“It’s all moving toward a system in which we all get along,” he continued.
As motorists and cyclists take on the new landscape, officials said it’s also a learning process for them.
“The infrastructure is being adjusted, the education campaign will be released to the public. We’re seeing all of these things come together and we’re learning as a community,” Zull said.
Starting Nov. 1, anyone who parks in any bike lane will be ticketed whether there is a sign in place or not.