Shared bike lane proposed as short-term trail measure

Published 6:32 am Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Without state funds to extend the Shooting Star Trail to Rose Creek and Austin, trail supporters are looking for other ways to connect with neighboring cities.

One option would be installing a shared bike lane on county roads to connect Austin and Rose Creek with the Shooting Star Trail. The Prairie Visions group brought that idea to the county board Tuesday. The trail currently runs between Adams and LeRoy.

“We wanted to get to Rose Creek, but the governor didn’t see it our way,” said Gerald Meier of Prairie Visions, a cooperative venture in the cities of Adams, LeRoy, Taopi and Rose Creek to support the small towns.

“It kind of seems like this is coming to a standstill so we came up with some ideas,” he said.

However, there are some serious questions about whether or not a bike lane would be possible.

The idea for the temporary path is to paint a bike and walking section into a lane, and traffic would be required to yield and pass pedestrians and bikes.

County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said the county would need to determine if such a method is legal and safe, especially on 55 mph roads. The county would also need to explore insurance and liability questions.

Oscarson said the county will examine whether or not the idea is possible.

A tentative route would run along County Road 4 south of Austin.

Shared bike lanes are common in the Twin Cities, but most of the bike lanes are a separate lane marked in the shoulder.

After funding to extend the trail was cut from the state budget, Prairie Visions leaders see the a bike lane as a temporary solution until funding is secured.

“We’re not saying because we’re doing this we want to get rid of the bike trail,” Meier said. “We’re doing this so people can get to the bike trail and use it.”