Smooth pavement, bike lanes, grass, flowering trees, music, food and beer – now that’s what I call a complete street. Pedal over to get a taste of all those things when the City of Milwaukee cuts the ribbon on the completion of the S 2nd Street reconstruction project along with the Walkers Point Association.
South 2nd Street is one of two complete streets makeovers the City did last year. From Pittsburgh to National, the street was narrowed from a 60 foot wide cross section with four motor vehicle travel lanes, two parking lanes and 5 ft wide sidewalks to a 50 ft wide road with wider sidewalks, only two motor vehicle travel lanes, bike lanes and parking lanes. At the request of the businesses and members of the Walkers Point Association, the City also added a grass, street trees, count-down LED pedestrian heads and decorative street lighting.
The before and concept photos below are from a post on Urban Milwaukee. I made the existing conditions photo immediately below yesterday.
It is a little unfair to compare the artist rendering with the final as-built design because some of the electrical work, which is being done by a private contractor as required by the ARRA funding, is still under way; the street trees are smaller, and although we looked at it, we could not put in the curb extensions or colored bike lanes/crosswalks. Even without those items I think this is a very successful and important project for the City. It is pretty rare that we remove a motor vehicle travel lane on any reconstruction project. Any time we take space away from automobiles, give that space to people walking and riding bicycles, and green a street, we are doing good work.
I really like the new street, and its connection to the other recently finished complete street road diet on S 1st from Mitchell to Lincoln. That street went from a four lane pattern to a three lane pattern so we could add the bike lanes. Between the pothole free ride and the freshly painted bike lanes, I think it is a really nice route. In the couple times I visited to take some photographs, I saw quite a few people using the new bike lanes, walking dogs along the new grass, using the bike racks on the No. 19 bus route, and of course driving cars.
One unexpected thing I noticed was that many people on bicycles turned off 2nd to go east at Florida. That surprised me a bit since the newly redone intersection at Pittsburgh is pretty bike friendly. The bike lanes continue down Pittsburgh all the way to the Young Street bridge. Maybe some people who don’t read my blog (?!) still avoid it because they don’t know the traffic signal has been tuned to detect bicycles and the loop-detector pavement marking was recently painted.
I still see many people riding on S 1st Street from Pittsburgh all the way to KK. I know the complete streets are one block out of the way, but I am curious if the only reason why people are not riding on the new streets between Bay View and Downtown is because the 1st/2nd route is two blocks off the most direct route of KK/1st. I’m a pretty assertive urban cyclist, but I sure prefer the reconstructed streets with bike lanes to the bumpy ride one block to the east. Is there something else that I am missing about the newly redone route or are the fresh pavement and bike lanes not worth shifting over a block?