Yesterday’s Hoan Bridge Community Meeting had an amazing turnout, filling every chair in Bayview’s Buelah Brinton Center, and with people standing wall to wall, even flowing out into the lobby. The turnout of bicylists that rode to the meeting had every bike rack, street post, fences, and even baseball bleachers lined with bikes. Hundreds came out in support of the proposed bicycle and pedestrian path on the Hoan Bridge, set for large-scale reconstruction starting in 2013.
Representatives from Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation, who are currently studying the feasibility of bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the bridge, were in attendance and shown an overwelming support from senators, alderman, and many passionate bicyclists and community members from all over the state.
The meeting started with introduction from a number of area politicians who hosted it. Senator Chris Larson, state Representatives Jon Richard and Chris Sinicki, county Supervisor Pat Jursick, and Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zeilinsi all showed their support for a bicycle and pedestrian lane, in one way or another, over the bridge during it’s upcoming renovations.
“Hoan bike lane backers speak” on JSOnline
“Officials from the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation gave a brief overview of the project at the beginning of the meeting. Dwayne Johnson, the regional manager for WisDOT, said the agency was doing another more detailed study of a bikeway over the bridge, but the huge project to repair the bridge must be completed on a very tight schedule and within budget. He said the Hoan project team would have the bikeway study done by the middle of September.”
When the floor opened to the community to voice their thoughts, the center aisle of the meeting room was steadily lined with individuals over the next hour. Some fifty-plus community members, some commuting as far as Cedarburg and Johnson Creek, spoke about a bicycle and pedestrian path over the bridge to an applauding room in majority support.
Speakers brought up the positive impact the bicycle and pedestrian lane would bring. Including a bicycle and pedestrian lane on the Hoan Bridge would extend the Oak Leaf Trail to Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood, in a state that already is widely renown for it’s integrate bicycle paths throughout.
“Big turnout back bikes on Hoan” on Over The Bars In Milwaukee
“Kevin Hardman, Executive Director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, said the project to redeck of the Hoan offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to create the “Elroy-Sparta” of the southeast. Hardman was referencing the state’s iconic trail which was the nation’s first former railroad converted into a trail for bicycles and pedestrians. The Elroy-Sparta trail has a series of tunnels and attracts more than a 100,000 visitors who generate more than a million dollars in tourism in the state.”
Individuals also voiced concerns of safety of their current commutes bicycling north and southbound commutes on South 1st Street and Kinnickinnic Avenue in Bayview, ranging from riding safely with automotive traffic to female’s sharing experiences of being harassed and followed.
Bridge’s with bicycle and pedestrian facilities in New York, San Francisco, Charleston, and even the Oakleaf Trail Bridge over Capitol Avenue in Shorewood were all brought up in comparison to the Hoan Bridge. Alexander Pendleton, an attorney from Shorewood, asked the room rhetorically, “World-class cities have world-class bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Does Milwaukee want to be a world-class city or not?”
Including bicycle and pedestrian facilities on the bridge would parallel the city’s bicycle plan to improve bicycling conditions in the city, encourage healthy and active lifestyles, bring tourism and revenue to the city and state, and brighten and bring in more visitors to an already vibrant lakefront in Milwaukee.
This is an amazing opportunity that we can see happen in our lifetime, and the time to act is now. Please, take the time to show your support and sign the online petition.