City will whiten street bicycle lanes

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Faded bicycle lanes on city streets will undergo facelifts later this spring.

The 5-foot-wide paths with white silhouettes of bicyclists were painted on Fourth Avenue East and the Eighth Street Boulevard in Le Mars last summer.

The bike lanes will be repainted when it's time for street painting, said Steve Hansen, Le Mars public works superintendent.

"We usually don't do any painting until May," he said. "It's going to be a lot warmer out and the ground temperatures are going to be warmer."

Air temperatures of 70-80 degrees and ground temperatures of 60-65 degrees are ideal for street painting, Hansen said.

He wasn't surprised the bicycle lanes' painting faded throughout the winter.

"I knew that's what was going to happen. It usually takes a couple years before you get something to stay pretty well," Hansen said. "It has to build up and get some thickness to it."

The bike lanes will continue to be maintained annually by the city just like crosswalks and driving lanes, Hansen said.

The bicycle lanes were painted last summer as part of a Safe Routes to School project with funding from the City of Le Mars and an Iowa Fit for Life grant.

It was money well spent, according to members of the Plymouth County Cyclists.

"I see bicycles on them," said member Dr. Wayne Marty. "The more they're there the more they will grow into use."

Mark Sturgeon, also a Plymouth County Cyclist, said bike club members used the bike lanes on Fourth Avenue for the Thursday night weekly group rides he participated in last year.

"We usually start at the Y and probably 90 percent of the time we went straight north on those lanes to the golf course and then got out on the trail system or if we went the other way, we went the south part of the route on them to get back to the Y," Sturgeon said.

Club members weren't the only ones using the bike lanes those evenings.

"Just on Fourth Avenue, I'd say each time we went out we'd run into a few people," Sturgeon said.

One reminder he wanted to pass onto bicyclists using the bike lanes or riding on roads is to go in the same direction as traffic, not against it.

"Some folks rode the wrong direction on them," Sturgeon said. "We'd run into people coming at us in the northbound lane and they were heading south."

Marty said the bicycle lanes are beneficial even if only one person uses them once a week because they create awareness.

"They're still useful to remind drivers that bicycles are out and have a right to be on the roads," Marty said.

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