Bay Street to get Milwaukee’s first raised bike lane

Construction of Milwaukee’s first raised bike lane will begin at the end of June.  As part of what was the Wisconsin DOT’s Bay View to Downtown Bike Route project, the City of Milwaukee designed a project to resurface Bay Street and construct a raised bike lane from Potter to Lenox. This will be the first raised bike lane in the Midwest and one of very few in the country.  The only other raised bike lanes in the Northern Hemisphere I am aware of are in Vancouver, British Columbia; Eugene and Bend, Oregon. 

This is the map of the project limits from the plan set cover sheet.


As I mentioned, this is part of the WisDOT’s “preferred alternative” to the path over the Hoan Bridge.  In 2002 they decided not to build a path, but still had funding to do a bike project to improve the route from Bay View to Downtown, so they asked the City of Milwaukee if we would design and implement it.  Milwaukee agreed and this is the first part of the project.  The second part of the route will be constructed next year when  the City will resurface S Water Street from National to Pittsburgh will add bicycle accommodations.  To be clear, the City still supports a bicycle path over the Hoan as part of the future redecking project, but this funding was available, it paid to resurface some very rough streets and add bike accommodations where there were none.

Click on the image to enlarge. This page of the plan set shows the existing cross-section of the median divided Bay Street on the top and the future cross-section with the raised bike lane on the bottom.

The motor vehicle traffic volumes on this street don’t justify four travel lanes, so when Milwaukee DPW resurfaces the street we are able to put it on a “road diet” and remove those unnecessary lanes and use the remaining space to add bicycle lanes.  You can see in the enlarged image below, that the bike lane is raised about 3.5 inches and separated from the motor vehicle travel lane with a 31 inch wide rolled or “mountable” curb.  This will serve to keep cars from driving in the bike lane, but still allow them to get into the curbside parking lane.

Because this was not a complete reconstruct of the street, we had to work with the existing drainage, which complicated the cross slope of the raised section and the parking lane.

We did not continue the raised bike lane west of Lenox, which is where the ramps to the Lincoln Ave Viaduct are and the traffic volumes increase quite a bit.  Instead that section will just get a standard bike lane next to a wide motor vehicle travel lane.  If this route proves to be very popular, perhaps we can look at creating a buffered bike lane in that section from Lenox to KK, maybe even try using the soft-hit bollards like Chicago’s Kinzie St will get (see yesterday’s post for more details on that design).

Remember this raised bike lane is just a pilot project to see how effective and well liked it is. If it is effective, we may tweak the design before we use it anywhere else. That said, it is not totally new; there are other examples of raised roadway sections and rolled curbs in the area.  Wauwatosa has a raised parking lane on State Street just east of 68th.  We consulted with their plowing operations chief and he said they did not have any trouble plowing that section.  In fact, he said the rolled curb made it easier to plow than a typical vertical curb face.

So now you have my permission to run outside and shout it from the rooftops “Milwaukee is getting the first raised bike lane in the Midwest! We are number one! Up Milwaukee!”


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Bike facilities and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Bay Street to get Milwaukee’s first raised bike lane

  1. Jill says:

    This is great news, but one question: will snow be removed from the raised bike lane in the winter (for us 4-season bike commuters)?

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Absolutely, as I mentioned in the post, Wauwatosa finds it is easier to clear the snow on their raised parking lane than regular parking lanes next to vertical curb.

  2. Jim Tarantino says:

    Thanks Dave! I’m reminded of the giant from Twin Peaks –
    ” Dont look for all the answers at once, a path is laid one stone at a time.”

  3. Chris says:

    As always, nice work Dave.

    I noticed today that Humboldt Ave bike lane has been re-striped between North Ave and Capitol. Any chance the city will be re-doing Prospect anytime soon? Those lines have all but vanished as well.

  4. Jhm Mke says:

    How about a “Monkey Bridge” for the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge,
    like the “Monkey Bridge” over by Tracadero where Van Buren turns into Holton.

    People could walk or ride bikes on the Daniel Hoan “Monkey Bridge” !
    Sunrises would be awesome!
    And night walks/rides would be very romantic with a full moon!

    • daveschlabowske says:

      The Marsupial Bridge is nice, but surprisingly, hanging bridges are extremely expensive and the Hoan already has way more width than needed for the existing and traffic volumes and even future volumes. So it is much more cost effective to simply put the path on the bridge with a parapet wall and railing.

  5. Bill Sell says:

    I personally feel no need to be first (I’m a Milwaukean after all). But there is another raised bike and walking lane you may have over looked. shows a photo of the raised bike lane on the Golden Gate bridge.

  6. Marion says:

    Yay! I’m excited about this. As I experience more of the city by bike, I’m starting to think simply striping a lane doesn’t do much in the way of making me feel safer. Here in Bay View folks on scooters and “mobility” scooters (!) seem to view the bike lane as their thoroughfare, and drivers are pretty indifferent (oblivious) to the bike lane on KK between Bay/Beecher and Oklahoma. I’ve had the same feeling riding up Prospect. Any sort of physical differentiation of bike space as separate infrastructure lends it more legitimacy and weight. Yay!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s