New bike lanes on Milwaukee’s south side confuse some drivers

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MILWAUKEE -- A stretch of Grange Ave. from S. 13th St. to S. 20th St. on Milwaukee's south side was recently repaved in the wake of the Mitchell Interchange reconstruction project. But markings on that stretch of Grange Ave. have some drivers confused.

"It's for the bike riders, but I really don't know if it's true or not," said driver Ester Rodriguez. "I don't know, I just can't figure out why they made it so wide."

The new bike lane markings in the right lane of that stretch of Grange Ave. look like a mistake; as if they're creating the world's widest bike lane. But city engineers say that's no mistake.

"We're actually using, for the first time, using what's called a shared lane marking or Share-O's as some people refer," said City Engineer Jeff Polenske.

Polenske says seemingly double-wide bicycle lanes with their over-sized markings are designed with safety in mind. Yes, motorists are able to drive in this same lane. But the idea is they will be more aware of bicyclists on the road.

"Just as you know round-abouts, when we first started constructing, it was something new. It was something that people had to adjust to and become used to," said Polenske.

The shared bike and motor vehicle lane, or Share-O, may be found in only a few spots around Milwaukee right now. But it won't stay that way. Polenske says those lanes will start popping up on other city streets as Milwaukee's long-term bicycle plan progresses.