Trail Improvements

Shared-use Path

Shared-use paths are typically located on dedicated easements running between developments through fields or wooded lots, but are sometimes placed along existing street easements.  As its name implies, these paths are usually shared by a variety of users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and wheelchairs, but not including motorized vehicles.  They can be constructed from concrete, asphalt, or crushed aggregate laid over a properly compacted and stabilized base.

Because of their multiple uses, it’s important that shared-use paths be designed to accommodate all users in a way that allows safe interaction with vehicular traffic and other users.  For specific design criteria, municipal designers and contractors should consult with the Wisconsin Bicycle Facility Design Manual, a copy of which is provided with this Plan.  The following is a summary of design and safety issues for a typical path:

·        Location – shared-use paths located adjacent and parallel to existing streets are problematic, since they promote “wrong-way” riding.  Motorists may not look for riders traveling in the opposite direction of traffic flow, and bicyclist may not always obey traffic control devices.  If it’s necessary to use a street right-of-way for a path, a minimum 5’ buffer should be maintained between the path and roadway.

·        Sidewalk paths – should be avoided because of conflicts with pedestrians and driveways.

·        Width – a minimum width of 10’ is recommended.

·        Clearance – a minimum 2’ flat shoulder (less than 16% slope) should be maintained on either side of the path, with at least 3’ clearance from obstacles, such as trees or posts.  See the Design Manual for special circumstances.

·        Minimum design speed should be 20 mph.

·        ADA requirements – the path should meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for maximum cross slope of 3%.

·        Curvature – see Design Manual for specific criteria.

·        Grade – the recommended maximum grade for paths is 5%, although sustained inclines should be limited to 2 – 3%.

·        Sight distance – see the Design Manual to review a chart that specifies the minimum sight distance for various conditions.

·        Signage & Markings – the manual recommends yellow centerlines with 3’ slashes and 9’ spaces, while a solid yellow line should be used for no passing zones.  Provide pavement markings and stop signs at intersections.  Warning signs should call out driveways and unusual trail features, such as narrowing pavement, clearance hazards, and extreme grades and curves.  Trail entrances should be designated with identification signage and “No Motor Vehicle” warnings.

·        Roadway Crossings – Warning signage and pavement markings should be placed at all trail intersections with streets, while signalized crossing with traffic calming features  are recommended at intersections with major transportation corridors. Please see the Manual, chapter 4.15, “Path-Roadway Crossings” for specifications.

Bicycle Lane

Bicycle Lanes are designated corridors along existing roadways and streets allowing bicyclists space to travel without encroachment from vehicular traffic.  Where parking can be eliminated, lanes are typically along the curb with pavement marking and signage.  The following recommendations should be addressed, and chapter 3 of the Wisconsin Bicycle Facility Design Manual consulted for specifics.

·        Two-way lanes – are NOT recommended, since they promote “wrong-way riding” for the lane traveling in the opposite direction of traffic.  A one-way lane should be provided on both sides of the street, or a different street designated for the return path.

·        Width – on a street without parking, the manual recommends a minimum width of 4’ from the stripe to the curb joint line – not including the cement gutter pan.  Gutter pans are not considered usable space, since they include sewer grates and are a collecting point for debris.  On streets with parking, a minimum parking lane of 8’ to 10’ plus a bicycle lane of 5’ is recommended.  Other applications are discussed in the manual.

·        Signage and Marking – bicycle lanes must be designated with lane striping, pavement marking, and signage to prevent conflict with vehicular traffic and parking.  Consult the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for proper compliance.

·        Intersections – the design of bicycle lane intersections with cross streets is addressed in chapter sections 3.6 – 3.8 of the Wisconsin Bicycle Facility Design Manual.

·        Street hazards – storm sewer grates, railroad crossings, and pavement irregularities should be addressed to avoid obstacles or traps for bicycle tires.

 

Paved Shoulder

Paved shoulders are typically used on high-volume state and county highways to provide enough room for vehicles to safely pass bicyclists and pedestrians without having to shift over into oncoming traffic.  Design features will vary according to traffic volume and whether the proposed project is new construction or retrofit.  The following issues should be addressed, and chapter 2.6 of the Wisconsin Bicycle Facility Design Manual consulted for specifics.

·        Width – depending on both vehicular and bicycle volume, the recommended width of the paved portion is 3’ to 5’.

·        Guardrails – a minimum clearance of 6’ to 8’ feet is recommended between the guardrail and vehicular lane.

·        Pavement Loading – a full-depth pavement is recommended to accommodate occasional vehicular load.

·        Joints – paved shoulders should be free of surface obstacles such as joint lines between the bicycle and travel lanes.  In retrofit situations, a minimum of 4’ width should be maintained outside the joint. 

·        Unpaved Driveways – to keep gravel from scattering onto the bicycle lane, driveways should be paved a minimum of 15’ back from the travel lane.

 

Shared Roadway

A shared roadway is typically used on corridors with low traffic volume, such as residential streets and town roads, where parking or narrow widths preclude more elaborate improvements.  Shared roadways can provide a path through areas that because of low traffic volume can accommodate bicycles and vehicles with little conflict.  They are especially useful in providing continuity to a trail system by connecting other segments, such as bicycle lanes or shared-use paths that would otherwise dead end.  Improvements required on shared roadways are minimal, but should include the following considerations:

·        Street hazards – as with bicycle lanes, storm sewer grates, railroad crossings, and pavement irregularities should be addressed to prevent accidents.

·        Signage – although striping is not required, “Bike Route” signs provide continuity for users unfamiliar with the route (signs should include the route name and destination), and awareness for vehicles that they must share the road.

Railroad Crossings

The angle and smoothness of railroad crossings must be addressed to prevent bicycle crashes.  Crossing angles of less than 30 degrees are extremely dangerous, while angles of 60 degrees or more are acceptable.  Additionally, the relative smoothness of the crossing must be considered, particularly if the surface – timbers, rubber, concrete, or asphalt – is deteriorated.  Chapter 2.7 of the Wisconsin Bicycle Facility Design Manual addresses remedies for rough crossings and angles of between 30 and 60 degrees.

Bicycle Parking

Bicycle parking is an often ignored but necessary component of a bicycle trail system.  Without locations to secure bicycles, what for many is a significant investment, potential users will not consider using bicycles for shopping, school, or work.  Bicycle parking facilities encourage utilitarian use of the trail system by offering people a place to secure their bicycle for extended periods while shopping, in school, or at work.

Bicycle parking facilities should be located wherever automobile parking is offered, such as downtown, shopping centers, schools, and public facilities.  Inverted-U bicycle racks are recommended and must be compatible with modern U-shaped locks.  Options should be thoroughly researched before purchase to ensure they meet bicyclists’ needs.  Additionally, bicycle theft education should be included in bicycle safety programs to inform trail users of necessary precautions.

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Safety Component

According to Wisconsin Bicycle Planning Guidelines, the safety component of a bicycle plan is every bit as important as the maps and diagrams.  Without properly addressing safety issues, the municipalities run the risk of creating a liability rather than an asset for their communities.  On average in Wisconsin, “1700 bicyclists in are injured or killed in traffic in traffic crashes involving motor vehicles,” while another 17,000 are injured in non-motor vehicle accidents, according to the publication.  Tragically, 59% of these injuries and fatalities involved children under the age of 15.  Through a three-pronged strategy of education, enforcement, and engineering, the “3-E approach,” a municipality can take a significant step towards prevention.

Education

Perhaps the most proactive component of safety is education.  To be effective, education must be targeted toward audiences that represent all elements of trail and street users, including children, adults (both casual and experienced bicyclists) and the motorist.  Each component represents a different perspective, and must be approached with a different strategy.  Best results with children are achieved with programs implemented through the school in the fourth and fifth grades, especially when using a ‘hands-on’ approach where children are instructed while on bicycles.  Follow-up communication with parents is very important in order to reinforce the message delivered during training.  

The Prairie du Chien Police Department currently administers a Bicycle Rodeo (please see the appendix for the kit issued by State Farm Insurance) for third, fourth and fifth grade students.  The department also has distributed free helmets through a program funded by Wisconsin State Bank.

Since upwards of two-thirds of accidents are caused by motorists, a campaign to educate motorist to “share the road” is critical to the success of the effort.  For example, many motorists are unaware that state law requires a minimum of three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists.  Both motorists and adult bicyclists can be approached through a variety of methods, including public service announcements (PSA’s), brochures, and press releases.  To effectively distribute literature and disseminate the message, all elements of the community support system must be involved, including schools, civic clubs, the media, municipal planners, law enforcement, the business community, and parents.

Enforcement

While enforcement is more of a reactive component, it can also enhance prevention by setting the proper attitude towards laws designed to protect bicyclists.  Because experienced bicyclist are less receptive to educational programs and more prone to bad habits that ignore safety precautions, enforcement remains the most effective method of behavior modification.  Well publicized ‘selective’ enforcement that targets specific areas of concern will impress upon trail users that the community is serious about maintaining a safe bicycling environment.  Additionally, motorists who are not receptive to educational programs regarding their responsibilities to share the road may be more responsive to enforcement.  More than a matter of courtesy, the motorist has a legal responsibility that they may not be aware of without education combined with enforcement.

In addition to patrol cars that monitor vehicular traffic and primary trail crossings, the presence of a uniformed bicycle patrol on the trail demonstrates to users a commitment to safety.  To expand that presence and enhance cost effectiveness, the community may consider training civilian volunteers as members of the bicycle patrol.

Engineering

While education and enforcement are necessary strategies of an overall safety component, there is no substitute for a well-engineered trail plan that avoids or eliminates many of the most prevalent safety hazards.  The trail design must address various safety issues for all types of facility improvements, including:  

·        signage for both trail users and motorists

·        signage and/ or signaling at major trail crossing points

·         the placement of trails relative to vehicular traffic flow

·         proper sight-lines at intersections of streets and driveways

·         street and trail maintenance

·         the mitigation of street hazards such as storm sewer grates, railroad crossings, and pavement irregularities. 

Construction of trails and improvements of existing streets should be made in accordance with the Wisconsin Bicycle Facility Design Manual, which is consistent with the AASHTO Bicycle Facilities Guide.  A summary of “Basic Improvement for Bicyclists” is included in the appendix. 

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Implementation

Timeline

Trail segments will need to be phased according to established priorities and available funding.  Priorities will in turn be contingent on other improvements that are required to make the segment functional.

Segment

Notes/ Contingencies

Phase

City Loop - East

Funding applied for

1

St. Feriole Island

Funding applied for

1

Wells/ Mooney Spoke

Priority for school children safety

1

Marquette/ Dousman Spoke

Marquette component is existing, while the Dousman segment requires only signage and hazard mitigation

1

City Loop - West

Contingent on completion of Main Street bypass

2

Beaumont Loop

Contingent on City Loop - West completion

Requires only signage

2

Frederick Spoke

Contingent on City Loop completion

2

South Loop

Contingent on DOT planning inclusion and scheduling for Hwy 18 improvements

3

North Loop

Contingent on frontage road development in Prairie du Chien township

3

Downtown Spoke

Contingent on roundabout intersection at Blackhawk/ Marquette as part of Marquette Road improvements

4

Campion Spoke

Contingent on City Loop completion and South Marquette improvements

4

Washington Spoke

Contingent on roundabout intersection at Washington/ Marquette as part of Marquette Road improvements

4

 

 Mapping, Signing, and Maintenance

To inform residents and visitors of the accessibility of the trail and to encourage its usage, the trail should be mapped and the map made available at a variety of locations.  The “Overview Map” included in this document can be used as the basis for this handout, provided it is updated as proposed routes are completed.  The maps can be distributed through the Chamber of Commerce, Wisconsin Travel Information Center, City Hall, and various businesses, such as motels, restaurants, attractions, and retail stores.  The map can also be posted at various strategic locations along the trail to show users the overall system and their relative location.

 

Signage is another method to inform residents and visitors of the existence of a trail, and to alert them to the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists to avoid accidents.  Signs should be located at trail crossing points of major streets, as well as along streets that have bicycle lanes or paved shoulders.

 

Maintenance of the trail system, both along dedicated trails and existing streets and roadways, is critical to encouraging usage and reducing municipal liability for accidents caused by poor maintenance.  The municipalities must keep a regular schedule of maintenance for both repair and cleaning of the system, including:

·        Pavement sweeping

·        Debris removal, including tree limbs and other hazardous obstacles

·        Tree and brush trimming to maintain sightlines

·        Surface repair and patching

·        Hazard mitigation, such as at rail crossings, storm sewer grates, asphalt/ concrete interfaces, and other surface irregularities that may catch a bicycle tire

Land Use and Site Planning

The commitment by the City of Prairie du Chien, Town of Prairie du Chien, and Bridgeport to the success of the Bicycle / Pedestrian Trail will be  largely represented by the degree in which access to the trail is reflected in future planning and development.  Without proper planning to accommodate bicycle/ pedestrian interests, the bicycle as a viable alternative to the automobile for short commutes will remain an afterthought.  Municipalities should incorporate bicycle planning into various stages of development:

·        Adopt zoning and land use policy that encourages commercial and mixed-use development close to residential areas, thereby shortening distances for shopping

·        Implement sub-division ordinances that require access to the trail system and allow for bicycle travel through the development

·        Include accommodations for bicycle lanes or paths in the planning process  for future streets and transportation corridors

·        Provide bicycle parking  facilities in commercial development projects

·        Support the provisions for bicycle facilities at all levels of planning and review

 

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