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Health grant to pay for Cape Girardeau bike lanes

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

(Photo)
This photo submitted by the Missouri Foundation for Health shows an example of the bike racks that will be purchased with Cape Girardeau's grant money.
A $253,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health will pay for 30 to 40 miles of bike lanes along seven Cape Girardeau streets, which officials said will provide a healthy connection to the city's parks, schools and other recreational areas.

One thing could put the brakes on the project, however -- negative public reaction to the proposal's plan to convert five of the seven bike routes to no-parking streets.

"If there's a significant amount of pushback and it looks like we can't reach a compromise, we'll drop the lanes and go back to the drawing board," said assistant city manager Heather Brooks.

An open house will be held later this month after letters are mailed to homeowners on the affected streets, she said. The open house has yet to be scheduled, she said, but it will happen by the end of the month to allow for feedback.

If there is significant public opposition, she said, city staff will work to come up with alternative routes, though she added they have attempted to map out routes that already don't have much residential parking.

Two of the routes -- Lexington Avenue and northern parts of Sprigg Street -- already prohibit parking, but portions of five other streets would have to be changed to no-parking to make room to stripe the bike lanes: Cape Rock Drive, Frederick Street, southern parts of Silver Springs Road, Hopper Road from Kingshighway to Old Kage Road, and Perryville Road.

"For bike safety, a road has to be wide enough and there aren't many streets in Cape that are wide enough that also allow parking on the street," Brooks said.

The three-year grant will pay for striping, bicycle racks, safety education and to promote the health benefits of cycling, she said. About 175 single-post bike racks will be placed around Southeast Missouri State University, a partner in the grant, Brooks said. Twenty loop racks will go in various city parks and near the Osage Centre and the new Shawnee Community Center and 30 single-post racks will go to Old Town Cape for the downtown area, she said.

The grant, which did not require local matching funds from the city, will pay for painted bicycle-shaped stencils within the lanes as identification markers, as well, she said. The lanes, counting both sides of the street, will be 30 to 40 miles long when the project is completed, which she hopes is by this fall, depending upon resident reaction.

The bike lanes are the culmination of four years of planning, beginning with the formation of Bicycle Advisory Council, a group of cycling enthusiasts.

Chris Moore, a member of the advisory council and the Velo Girardeau Bike Club, said there has been a need for bike lanes here for years.

"I see people on their bikes all the time," Moore said. "This is very much needed. I think this is a great opportunity for the city. It's progressive. It's a move in the right direction toward a healthy community."

Moore hopes the bike lanes are well used. If so, the advisory council hopes it can add them to more city streets, so that children can ride their bikes safely to school and adults can drive their cars less.

"We're seeing a lot more people commuting by bike to work," he said. "It's healthier. These lanes will make it safer for cyclists and safer for motorists."

Moore agrees that the streets with bike lanes should not allow parking.

"We hear about that happening all the time, someone opening their car door and taking out a cyclist," he said. "We call that getting doored. If we can get 100 bikers to use one of these routes on a regular basis, is that equal to one person who wants to park? I think so."

The Missouri Foundation for Health formed in 2000 after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri converted to for-profit status. It selected Cape Girardeau for the grant because it recognized the city's desire to build a "culture of biking," said Amy Stringer Hessel, a program officer for the foundation.

"The focus of this grant is on obesity prevention," she said. "Cape turned in a really comprehensive plan. We want to help them change the environment so people can be more active."

About a third of Americans don't drive, she said, and in 2010 Missouri ranked 12th in the nation for adult obesity.

"What we liked about this project is that it's something that people could build into their lifestyle," she said. "We felt really confident investing in this."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-36423

Pertinent address:

Cape Girardeau, MO


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Cape could definitely use bike lanes. I can't wait to see a more bike friendly Cape. This definitely improves our overall city image, while providing a fun, safe and healthy alternative to cars. Cape should be synonymous with 'bike friendly'.

-- Posted by SteveM on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 4:19 PM

Columbia, MO is a city that has worked hard on this "bike lane" concept. It has been a disaster! There has been seven years of fighting and mud-slinging. It has created severe parking issues, safety issues, shopping issues, and severe traffic issues. When I say "fighting" I mean there has been actual fighting between motorists and cyclists. From what I hear it tore the city apart. "Bike friendly" is a nice sounding concept - but most people don't care. Surprise, we are not San Francisco or Colorado Springs. It doesn't attract residents or businesses, and is only of value to those few people in town who use it, and then only a few months out of the year. A lot of effort and disruption for a very few.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 5:23 PM

A grant huh? This is still tax money. You all (city) act like it grows on trees.

-- Posted by howdydoody on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 6:36 PM

Oh how lovely, more tax dollars wasted on the UNNECESSARY. Those of you who say this is a good thing, then YOU are the reason why our nation is bankrupt!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Posted by Skeptic1 on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 7:45 PM

I don't think this is tax money. This is part of a settlement Blue Cross made with the state of Missouri when it changed to a for-profit status. Blue Cross had to set up a trust (Missouri Foundation for Health)that sponsors health programs in Missouri.

"The Missouri Foundation for Health formed in 2000 after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri converted to for-profit status."

-- Posted by nolimitsonthought on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 8:37 PM

More fluff...If you listen to the Chamber and Old Town Cape, you can ride a bike and smoke at the same time.

-- Posted by stinker on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 9:30 PM

Who commutes by bike in Cape? Last time I rode one was when I was 15. Get a car! Bike lanes are lame.

-- Posted by Mr Goodtime on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 9:53 PM

As a retail worker in this town I have a good sense of the pulse of the community. More than once I've heard people say they might just have to start riding a bike to work if these gas prices keep going up. I'm leaning towards that same choice and I am an out of shape 47 year old. I look at it as a win-win. I'll get heathier, lose some weight, and shift money in my tight budget from gasoline to food--and we ALL know that when gas prices go up so does food and utilities.

-- Posted by Catbert on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 11:01 PM

City Hall will just spend it all on something else anyway.......

-- Posted by timexx on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 2:58 AM

I think that this grant will be well-spent if it is used for bike lanes in Cape. Last year I was riding my bike down town on William St. and a car ran a stop sign causing me to crash and break both of my arms. It would be much easier to share the road with cyclist if we had our own lane. I am actually surprised that Cape has not gotten around to this sooner than now. The Osage trail in town is nice, but it is not very practical. You cannot really use it to get from one place to the other. It will be nice to have a trail system that people can use as an alternative to driving!

-- Posted by mdlynn86 on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 4:38 AM

I think that this grant will be well-spent if it is used for bike lanes in Cape. Last year I was riding my bike down town on William St. and a car ran a stop sign causing me to crash and break both of my arms. It would be much easier to share the road with cyclist if we had our own lane. I am actually surprised that Cape has not gotten around to this sooner than now. The Osage trail in town is nice, but it is not very practical. You cannot really use it to get from one place to the other. It will be nice to have a trail system that people can use as an alternative to driving!

-- Posted by mdlynn86 on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 4:47 AM

Please Catbert! My dad has been saying that if gas prices get any higher he is going to have to ride a bike for most of of his life. Well, 40 years of gas price increases and he doesn't even own a bike. Almost everyone where I work says the same thing - yet us obese complainers still drive our guzzlers every day. Bikes and cars don't mix - no matter what your little green heart says. Drivers and bicyclists have both become too unskiled and too arrogant to share the road. Studies have shown that in cities with these lanes a maxium of only 1.8% of the population ever uses them, an then only very occasionally. Even though the money is "free" - there is little need to inconvience the other 98% of the population.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 6:05 AM

"so that children can ride their bikes safely to school and adults can drive their cars less." Like this is going to happen....NOT. Kids live 2 blocks from school and they ride the bus! The only people I see riding bikes are the one that want to be seen "getting healthy" Why else would you ride around where all the exhaust from cars is the greatest? If SEMO were flat and wide open, this may be a good idea...maybe.

-- Posted by mohacker on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 6:22 AM

Mohacker - where do you live? No one here takes the bus. Parents now drive their little darlings to school. Even if it is only two blocks. Schools have had to install special lanes and increase the size of parking lots. Cities have had to widen roads and install special lanes so parents can drive kids to school. I drove to Jackson recently and found they redid a entire section of roadway to put in a special "mommy" lane and a traffic light at one of their schools.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 6:41 AM

GREAT IDEA...Im really surprised that the number of negative comments is not greater tho. Usually people who are overweight, smoke, and could care less about the rights of others come out in droves.

-- Posted by 2wheeler on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 7:14 AM

mdlynn86, me thinks a bike lane would not have saved you. Although paying more attention might have. I ride a motorcycle - there is no cure for what ails you. Posting once, posting twice...

-- Posted by blogbudsman on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 7:33 AM

... and 2wheeler, how appropriate for a bicyclist to flat insult everyone who disagrees with their silliness. Stopped at a stop sign lately? - didn't think so.

-- Posted by blogbudsman on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 7:36 AM

If complaining about high gasoline prices affected the price, it would be 24 nine again!

-- Posted by thewonder on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 8:11 AM

This can be a win-win for the community. For the people that ride bikes it will truly help and may encourage others to do so.

For those who don't ride this is just something else for you to complain about! Would you people really ever be happy? If everyone had cars and gas was free there would still be complaining!

-- Posted by localfan on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 8:29 AM

Maybe we could use this money for a bicycle figure-8 track in Arena Park. Heck, put a stop sign at the intersection. Charge admission.

-- Posted by blogbudsman on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 8:35 AM

Spaniard: Imight be mistaken but I think when the original article was written yesterday there was no mention of where the money was coming from. Now maybe i didn't read the entire article yesterday. But, I think there is a lot more info today than yesterday. If I am correct, I look forward to your apology. If not accept mine.

-- Posted by howdydoody on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 8:51 AM

howdydoody, you're wrong. This is a Missouri Foundation for Health grant which is not funded through tax money. It is funded through the settlement with Blue Cross years ago.

-- Posted by southeast on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 8:57 AM

I can see both sides, pros and cons of this proposal. One thing that people continually overlook in my opinion is if you do nothing, you will never have anything to show for it. I feel this could be a good concept if done correctly, but Cape does need to get the more important issues cleared up before doing anything else. It seems that new grants/funding are being awarded to Cape weekly and most are being spent on ridiculous ideas and projects that are not the most important to our city and the PEOPLE of this community. You aren't going to please everyone all the time, but if you (MAYOR, elected officials) start trying to do things the right way, the backlash will be much less when these smaller proposals come about.

-- Posted by jdhuntn on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 9:03 AM

If this money is part of a settlement then who's money is it? Of course it is state money.

Since Blue Cross is funding this to increase healthy lifestyles, does that mean our premium will be reduced? They have always come up with these lifestyle changes but never report a return on the investment we taxpayers make. The upcoming vote on the smoking ban is a prime example of an infringement of our rights that will never correlate into a savings. And you wonder why we're broke?

-- Posted by yy4me on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 9:29 AM

With bike lanes comes reconfiguration of turn lanes, including right turn lanes, which in turn causes traffic tie-ups. Streets were not built for bicycles. When I was in school, we were taught how to ride our bikes with traffic, get off our bikes at intersections and walk the bike across. Bicycle lanes on streets and major thoroughfares just cause more trouble for the great majority to address the wishes of perhaps 20 or 30 regular cyclists. Bicyclists who get doored are riding too close to parked cars and probably going too fast as well. I'm not sure I understand the mentality of bicyclists who seem to blame others for their crashes when they are riding, actually barreling down at break-neck speeds with no protection other than a Walmart helmet, on streets that were never intended for bicycles. I would have to say leave the streets alone for their intended purposes - cars. The other thing that bothers me about this is that we are recipients of some kind of grant - and what we're not hearing is all the contingency requirements imposed by the grant, meanwhile we have a situation with the wastewater plant. If resources wouldn't have been occupied with filling out grant applications, those resources could have addressed teh wastewater issues sooner. I continue to be amazed that even our town leaders don't practice what is so often instilled into our heads as children: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

-- Posted by Beaker on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 9:54 AM

""I see people on their bikes all the time," Moore said"

I don't! I live within view of the bike trail and even there, I see very few bicyclers. I would think there would be better uses of this money rather than dangerous bike lanes on any street in Cape. Beaker has it right.

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 10:51 AM

Lot of good points here. Here are a few more. I laughed at the idea that school children would benefit. When did the schools or the lawdogs spend the time to teach them to ride WITH THE TRAFFIC instead of against the flow as pedestrians, and to STAY OFF THE SIDEWALKS? SIDE-WALKS - get it? I witnessed a youth get knocked to the pavement when crossing the exit of a post office, riding the wrong direction on the sidewalk. Driver not cited.

Education for motorized vehicle drivers...that first adjective is important. Bicycles are also vehicles and the same traffic laws and responsibilities apply. Bicycles can have the right of way, and they have to stop for signs and signals.

Now that the rant is over, I'll tell you how it is in Las Vegas. I bike, and we have plenty of well-marked bike paths on the sides of thoroughfares. But if you think I'm getting out in traffic with uneducated, unskilled drivers...Although I don't get the same benefit as really riding, all my miles are on a bike rack these days. It's NOT that streets aren't for bicycles, it's the general level of ignorance and apathy among motorists that keeps me off the road.

-- Posted by Maynard on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 11:04 AM

I wish they would spend this money to make a bike trail on 177 to Trail of Tears Park. I don't know how many times I've come up over a hill and almost ran into a biker. It's dangerous for driver & biker. All they would need to do is blacktop a small strip on the shoulder of the highway and things would be better for everyone!

-- Posted by chelsea0608 on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 11:33 AM

Given a choice, I much prefer riding my bike to work and for running errands rather than driving my car. I logged over 1500 miles commuting by bicycle to work in 2010. It is much more pleasurable biking to work, out in the fresh air, exposed to the sights and sounds around me and not enclosed within the confines of an auto. I can get across town almost as fast as I can in my car. It has done wonders for my health and happiness. I have lost 25 pounds, I have a resting heart rate of 41, and I feel better than I have in years. I have experienced an increase in libido. I have a more positive attitude at work when I bike than when I drive my car. I can eat and drink all I want without having to worry about massive weight gain. I'm helping reduce traffic congestion, lessening my impact on the environment, and reducing my country's dependence on foreign oil.

When I ask my fellow co-workers why they don't ride a bike to work, they tell me they would consider it if they felt safer riding on our city streets. Hopefully, bike lanes will help in this regard and more people will take up cycling for the good of all us.

-- Posted by carsarecoffins on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 1:29 PM

If we are going to spend the money to provide bike lanes, then can we also have some sort of legislation that says when a bike lane is available that the bike rider MUST stay in it??? They always claim they have just as much a right to be on the road as cars, and I can understand their position. However, they are definitely a hazard some of the time, and they slow traffic significantly in areas where you can't pass. So, if they have a lane that is all theirs, then I would expect them to stay out of mine!

-- Posted by sayswho? on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 2:16 PM

People who ride bikes are not paying the gas tax that provides for the streets they ride on. Sounds like representation without taxation.

-- Posted by yy4me on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 3:08 PM

On the contrary, yy me. I pay more than my fair share in federal and state taxes, a portion of which goes to highway funding. I also own a car, albeit a fuel efficient car, so I pay plenty in gas tax. However, when I ride my bike I greatly reduce the amount of wear and tear on our roads and take up far less space when traveling from place to place or when parking. Speaking of parking, I always get the best spots....right up front!

-- Posted by carsarecoffins on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 3:34 PM

This was a rather tongue in cheek comment, however you do not have to own a car to own a bike. Transportation funds are paid mainly by truckers and motorists. We are all overtaxed.

-- Posted by yy4me on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 3:41 PM

Wish we could get a safe barrier protected bike lane across the Emerson Bridge for direct access to the levee road and back roads across the river from Cape.

-- Posted by greeneagle5 on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 4:45 PM

Bike lanes are a good ideo but some streets are to small for them and you also got a chance of being hit by a car that aint paying attention or a out fo town driver that ain't use to seeing bike lanes I think people need to think before doing!

-- Posted by capeguy30 on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 4:55 PM

Actually you guys are WRONG. The MFFH.org may have beginning funds from BCBS, but they now receive funds from the government, meaning our tax dollars. Check out their website.

-- Posted by Skeptic1 on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 7:56 PM

In fact here is a quote from their website

"These new efforts by MFH have the potential to help organizations continue to

leverage current funding, and increase the total pool of federal dollars brought into

Missouri"

They are out to increase federal funding- our tax dollars.

-- Posted by Skeptic1 on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 7:57 PM

As of 2009, federal highways were funded just over 50% by "user fees" including gas taxes, and that proportion was steadily declining.

(http://subsidyscope.org/transportation/highways/funding/)

Local roads are more dependent on property taxes, etc. than the federal ones, so cyclists are paying for Cape roads, yet taking up less space and causing less wear than motorists.

A bicycle is a vehicle, by Missouri state law and similar laws in all 50 states. While cyclists therefore have the right to use almost any road in the state, dedicated bike lanes may improve safety. There are arguments on both sides of that issue. (http://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/bikelanes.html)

A couple of things that are not in question, though: Bikers have the right to use the roads, and the more people bike, the less gas we use -- a benefit in many ways.

-- Posted by agathman on Thu, Mar 10, 2011, at 9:12 AM

I'm wondering who will reimburse the people who live along the bike routes for the reduction in their property value. Who will want to buy a house on a street and not be able to have a birthday party for their child or Christmas at their house because there would be no place for guests to park. Think about all the family gatherings these folks would not be able to enjoy. This bike route would make selling a house along the bike route almost impossible.

-- Posted by Concerned Citizen Bob on Tue, Mar 29, 2011, at 11:00 AM

If the City of Cape Girardeau is successful in establishing theses bike routes, I'm wondering who will reimburse the people living along the bike routes for the reduction in their property values. Will the city reimburse them?

These bike routes will make it almost impossible to sell a home along the routes. Who would want to buy a property and not be able to have their childs birthday party or Christmas at their home because guest would not be able to park on the street in front of their home. What about people who have children of driving age? Where are they going to park their vehicles?

To answer the question, "If we can get 100 bikers to use one of these routes on a regular basis, is that equal to one person who wants to park?" The answer is, "It depends on whether or not you live on or want to sell a house on a street along the bike route!"

-- Posted by Concerned Citizen Bob on Tue, Mar 29, 2011, at 11:29 AM

Actually, Concerned Citizen Bob, there is research indicating that proximity to bike lanes and paths can increase property values and are amenities that can make homes more attractive to prospective buyers. Also, if you are trying to attract young, well-educated individuals to our city, you need bike lanes. Otherwise, they will locate in California, Washington, Oregon, or Colorado where there is active integration of bicycle transportation in their cities.

-- Posted by carsarecoffins on Thu, Mar 31, 2011, at 12:45 PM


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