Bike lane proposal draws opposition from Cape Girardeau residents at open house

Friday, April 1, 2011

A $250,000 proposal to put bike lanes along 11 Cape Girardeau streets may have to be patched up after an open house Thursday drew much opposition from residents who said they largely oppose the idea if it means eliminating on-street parking.

City officials said after the meeting that the opposition would not kill the project and that the plan can be altered to address resident concerns.

The city held the two-hour open house at the Osage Centre to seek input on 30 to 40 miles of bike lanes, several of which would require streets to be converted to no-parking. Dozens of people filtered through to glance at the maps, talk with city officials and fill out comment cards.

Most residents, especially those who lived on the streets that would remove parking, said they did not like the idea.

"I do not like the fact that I will not be able to park in front of my house whenever I want to park in front of my house," said John Blattner, who has lived on West Cape Rock Drive for 30 years. "I don't do that often, but when you want to park in front of your home, you should be able to."

Mike Vick and his wife, Diana Stevens-Vick, have lived on West Cape Rock Drive since 1987. Parking was allowed on their street when they moved in, and they don't want that to change. The couple said they don't disapprove of bike lanes, but not at the expense of convenience.

"We have family gatherings and at holidays a lot of people park on the street," Stevens-Vick said. "I would encourage the city to come up with another plan to have bike lanes and not mess with the parking situation."

While three real estate agents said no-parking streets would hurt property values, not everyone who came to meeting was against the proposal. Lisa A. Rose, who moved here two years ago from Colorado, said she would love for Cape Girardeau to have bike lanes.

"It's dangerous not to have them," she said. "In Cape, we don't want more of the same. We want a variety of things to attract new people. We need to have more leisure-type things for people to do. It's good exercise and it's good for the environment to ride bikes."

Mayor Harry Rediger said he strongly favors bike lanes and said several other Missouri cities are installing them. Cape Girardeau is lagging behind those cities and to have them here would improve the quality of life for residents.

He said he is mindful of resident concerns and emphasized the proposal is not final.

"I hear where they're coming from," he said. "We're going to take that into consideration."

City engineer Kelly Green said she had heard the concerns, which she said were valid. That was the purpose of the open house, she said.

Green said she heard no opposition about putting bike lanes on streets that already prohibit parking, such as Lexington Avenue and northern parts of Sprigg Street.

City staff will tally up the comment sheets they collected and then decide whether changes need to be made. The Cape Girardeau City Council has the final say about whether parking changes will be made, she said. Other options include allowing parking in back alleys or side streets, she said.

"By no means is this set in stone," Green said.

But it is preferable, she said, to have bike lanes on both sides of the street so cyclists can ride in the same direction as traffic.

Bicycling enthusiast Steve Gerard said something needs to be done, whether it's bike lanes or educating the public about bicyclists having the same rights to the road as motorists.

"I've been cussed at, thrown at, run off the road," he said. "I was hit on purpose not too long ago. I think bike lanes would be positive, especially for kids."

smoyers@semissourian.com

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Pertinent address:

1625 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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