Sylvan Avenue bike lanes moving forward

Almost all of the 80 or so neighbors who attended a meeting Monday about proposed bike lanes on Sylvan Avenue said they support the plan. About three neighbors said the city should spend the money elsewhere and leave Sylvan be.

The city has $50,000 for routine striping on Sylvan, and City Councilman Scott Griggs wants to make sure that bike lanes go in, according to the city’s bike plan, if that’s what neighbors want. The money is enough to pay for striping bike lanes and installing reflector buttons from Kessler Parkway to Colorado. That can be done soon and inside the 64 feet of roadway that is there now. The street would have four lanes of car traffic, two bike lanes and striping with reflective buttons between bikes and cars.

The city has 80 feet of right of way on that stretch of Sylvan, which has no sidewalks. The majority of neighbors said they want the city to take the 80 feet to make Sylvan a complete street with car traffic, bike lanes, sidewalks and landscaping. There’s no money for that now — it would involve building the sidewalks and curbs, replacing retaining walls, working around old-growth trees and other costly measures. But even neighbors whose property abuts sylvan said they would be in favor of that plan if the money were available.

Neighbors in Kessler Park say speeding on Sylvan, where the speed limit is 35, is their main concern. They say accidents are common and cars wind up crashing into fences, retaining walls and into people’s yards as frequently as every month. One neighbor said she is afraid to garden in her own front yard because traffic is unruly on Sylvan. Adding bike lanes and creating a complete street would calm traffic, neighbors say.

Cindy Pierce, president of Kessler Neighbors United, says bike lanes on Sylvan also would create a connection between her neighborhood and attractions on Fort Worth Avenue.

“It would be great to walk to the Belmont,” Pierce says. “But you can’t because there are no sidewalks.”

A few neighbors contested that bike lanes are unnecessary on Sylvan because safer routes already exist. John McCall, a past president of East Kessler Neighborhood Association, said he doesn’t think bike lanes will have a calming effect on traffic. However, the neighborhood association itself supports the proposed bike lanes.

Several bike commuters at the meeting said they already take Sylvan because it’s their most direct route. Bike commuter Scott Yokel says he isn’t willing to ride a half mile out of the way just for a safer route. He says Sylvan never has that many cars, even in the morning rush hour, but the three-lane roadway on either side causes motorists to speed and jockey for position before they reach stoplights.

The proposal must go through the city’s transportation and plan committees before going up for approval before the full City Council.

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