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County rejects temporary plan to extend trail

Extending the Shooting Star Bike Trail to Rose Creek and Austin will have to wait until the funding is secured.

The Mower County Board of Commissioners unanimously rejected a request Tuesday from Prairie Visions to install a shared bike lane on county roads to connect the Shooting Star Trail to Rose Creek and Austin.

The idea was a temporary fix after Prairie Visions, a joint powers group in Rose Creek, LeRoy, Taopi and Adams, failed to secure funding to extend the trail to Rose Creek. However, the idea was deemed unsafe, especially on 55 mph county roads.

County Engineer Mike Hanson noted that bicycles are allowed on county roads, and state law requires bikers to travel the same direction as traffic.

“The roads are already dedicated in a fashion to bicycles,” Hanson said.

Hanson said statistics show about 50 to 60 percent of accidents occur on county roads, and having a shared bike lane could add a safety hazard. While Hanson said that it typically wouldn’t be a problem for experienced bikers to ride on county roads with 55 mph traffic, he noted that people often take their young children biking, which is an added safety concern.

Now that shared bike lanes aren’t in the county’s immediate future, the board told Prairie Visions representatives to keep pressing for funding. That would be to keep acquiring money to extend the separate bike trail — which is seperate from the road — on to Rose Creek and eventually on to Austin.

“The safest place for bikes is on a designated trail,” Commissioner David Hillier said.

Tucker said they’ll be much better off continuing the course with the trail.

Prairie Visions member Gerald Meier said the idea was one that came up at a group meeting, and they decided to bring to the board for more research.

“It was just an idea,” he said. “It was something new we didn’t know anything about so we brought it to you guys.”

Board chairman Ray Tucker told Meier to keep the ideas for the trail coming.

Meier first brought the idea to the board on May 25. The shared bike lane would have been designated in a part of the lane with traffic yielding to pedestrians and bikers.