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Tosa heads down path toward better bike plan

Sept. 4, 2012

Cyclists who love the Oak Leaf Trail may find Wauwatosa even more bike-friendly in the coming years, as the city pursues a long-range plan for riders and pedestrians.

At the same time, a separate, but related, initiative promoted by 6th District Alderman Jeffrey Roznowski would allow the bikeless to rent bikes at multiple locations locally.

The city has issued a request for proposals from professional services firms for "a complete look at the existing on-road and off-road facilities for bikes and pedestrians," said Paulette Enders, the city's development director.

Planning the paths

The proposal seeks a planning firm that would take a look at existing bike and pedestrian routes, connections to neighboring communities, and plans already developed.

The firm would then recommend improvements, with detailed descriptions and facility designs, cost estimates, alternative funding opportunities, and a phasing or prioritization plan for any potential capital improvements.

Enders said the "facilities" to be addressed include street bike lanes, and trails that would likely, for example, connect to the existing Oak Leaf Trail, which currently connects the Village with Jacobus Park, Hart Park and Hoyt Pool, and continues along the Menominee River and Underwood parkways.

The plan conceived "will be used as the definitive policy document and conceptual plan for the development of safe, functional, convenient, and attractive bicycle and pedestrian facilities" throughout the city, according to the proposal.

The deadline for application is Oct. 4, and the city plans to make a selection by Oct. 17. The proposal anticipates a one-year period for the project, beginning Nov. 9.

Bike-sharing prospect

A bike-sharing plan is also being pursued, Roznowski said. While not a part of the city's formal plan, it would enhance bicycle use in the area, the alderman added.

Midwest Bikeshare, a nonprofit, is pursuing a bike rental program for Milwaukee. The group's goal is to be up and running next year, with 25 bike kiosks, or rental sites, and 250 bikes.

"I am advocating very strongly that some of those kiosks or stations be in some very logical, beneficial places in Wauwatosa," Roznowski said.

For now, he sees two areas as strong candidates.

"One that quickly comes to mind is within the village, roughly around where the Little Red Store is, where the Farmers Market goes on in the summer time," Roznowski said, adding, "It's connected to bike trails in every direction."

A second area within the medical complex also appears promising, he said.

"If you look at the medical complex and the research park, the County Grounds, 20,000 people come to work there every single day," Roznowski said.

He envisions bike use at lunch times - even bike rides to restaurant in the village - and for commuting.

Sharing the costs, too

Costs are a big issue. A bike kiosks costs about $15,000 annually to operate.

Purchasing the system and bikes are initial cost. Bike maintenance, redistribution of bikes, electricity, online services, and "a large amount of insurance" are ongoing costs, said Barry Mainwood, the co-founder of Midwest Bikeshare, which seeks to establish programs in Wisconsin.

The nonprofit would work with B-Cycle to establish the system. B-Cycle has established programs in many cities around the country, including Madison.

Midwest Bikeshare is seeking private sponsors and organizations to support kiosks - hospitals at the medical complex, for example, or perhaps the Village BID, with the private businesses who are members each contributing a little, Roznowski suggested.

Mainwood said he was trying to recruit sponsors.

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