Biking over the Hoan would be better, three dozen bicyclists concluded Monday after dodging traffic on a purposeful ride from Humboldt Park to the Discovery World Museum.
The result was no surprise.
State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and his legislative neighbor Rep. Jon Richards set up the lunch-time trip to show the dangers and inconvenience of the Bay View-to-downtown bike route the Wisconsin Department of Transportation chose 10 years ago. Then, the DOT rejected a proposal to add a bike and pedestrian lane to the bridge that connects the south side neighborhood to the lakeshore near Veterans Park.
Richards called it a “bitter conclusion.”
Almost the entire route is on busy streets, and bicyclists have no protection from motor vehicles. Richards called the experience pedaling on S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and S. 2nd St. “unnerving.”
Add in nearly 20 intersections, and the confusing route is clearly inferior to the alternative: a bike and pedestrian pathway on the 2.5-mile Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge, Larson said.
“It would be so much easier to say go over the most beautiful bridge you see, and that’s going to connect you,” Larson said.
The ride was part of the current campaign to change the yet-to-be-completed path chosen in 2002.
Larson, Richards and cycling advocates have a window of opportunity to make their case, while the DOT again studies the feasibility of a bike lane as part of the planning for a reconstruction of the bridge scheduled to start in 2013.
A report on the cost and engineering challenges of adding a bike route, separated by a safety barrier, is set to be released later this year.
“This is a 40-year opportunity; a generational opportunity,” Larson said, as he gathered the group outside the Humboldt Park Pavilion.
The ride reinforced the impressions the bikers brought to the street.
“I prefer not to have all the stop signs and traffic,” said Debra Tuckwood, a member of the Bay View Bicycle Club. “I probably wouldn’t want to do it by myself.”
Tuckwood was one of the thousands who took the opportunity to ride the Hoan during the Miller Lite Ride for the Arts in June. That experience convinced her that the slope and wind would be easily overcome.
“I was surprised it was as easy as it was,” Tuckwood said.
Larson urged the riders, a mix of old and young, some on clunky mountain bikes and others on recumbents, to press business owners and state officials to see the benefits of opening the Hoan to bikers and walkers.
Their task is to convince opponents like Sheriff David Clarke and Gov. Scott Walker, who have called a bike lane on the Hoan too costly and too dangerous.
The group that traveled down S. 2nd St. doesn’t need further persuasion.