Bike signs to be placed in Cape

Monday, July 28, 2008

On July 21, $20,000 in funds for bike awareness signs was approved by the Cape Girardeau City Council. The plan calls for 265 signs that say "Share the Road" to be placed near the main thoroughfares in the city.

"The idea was to come up with a way for bicyclists to have a safe way to get around Cape," said Eric Redinger, who helped write the plan's language.

Redinger said the signs will make drivers more aware of bikers. He hopes drivers will learn how to accommodate bikers by centering their car between the center line on their left and bikers on their right. Redinger said signs will be placed on the right side of the street. He hopes bikers will learn to always ride on that side.

In addition to covering expenditures for the signs, one-quarter of the $20,000 funding is intended for any future sign repairs or replacements.

Dan Muser, the director of the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation department, said the construction of signs is phase one of two in the process of creating bike lanes.

He said the signs are a large step for the city "because we've never had a plan for where these routes could be."

A plan for bike lanes to be painted along with the placement of the signs was hindered by high costs and inconveniences posed to the public. Chris Moore, who also helped write the plan's language and is president of Velo Girardeau, said bike lanes will eventually be painted in the city, but there is no timetable.

"We dropped the lanes in this plan because with them it would've meant less signs," Redinger said. "I don't think we really compromised anything."

Bike lanes also would create an inconvenience because their location would take away street-parking space from cars, Redinger said.

Redinger, the chairman of a bicycle advocate team within Leadership Cape, said the bike sign plan originated at least eight months ago. The effort was a collaboration between different interest groups around town, collectively called the bicycle safety group, which includes Velo Girardeau, Leadership Cape, the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department, city engineers, city planners, the public works department and individual bikers with the intent to draw up a plan to accommodate bike commuters.

Some bikes lanes and signs could have been placed at the same time, Moore said. But the bicycle safety group thought this wouldn't be as effective in creating awareness as placing all the signs at once, he said.

Moore said the bicycle safety group will meet next week to discuss the implementation of the signs. He said it was possible the placement of signs could begin in late summer or early fall.

Funds from a Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation sales tax were used for the first time by the city to pay for the signs, Muser said. The tax came from a vote April 8 that provided $3 million in funds for the creation of ten parks and recreation projects, including the bicycle signs. He said the tax money for the signs will be made available in October.

"I think it's a great moment; we do need to share the road," said 1st Ward city councilman John Voss. "I don't know how it could be a bad thing. It's a healthy life style."

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