More elbow room for bikes 

Bike lanes along Arthur Avenue between South Avenue and Sixth Street will soon grow wider by one foot, says City Engineer Steve King.

“We had the opportunity to tune up the bike lanes,” King says, and the city is seizing the opportunity. “It will all be done in the next few weeks.”

Last week at a Public Works committee meeting, Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation’s Bob Giordano asked the city to consider widening the lanes on Arthur Avenue, Higgins Avenue and Mount Avenue in conjunction with already scheduled pavement maintenance.

Wider bike lanes were already on his radar screen, says King, but “Bob was the catalyst, probably, for getting it done this week.”

Not every wish on Giordano’s list was granted. The Higgins bike lane will not be widened. Mount, which is already a designated bike route, is too narrow for striped bike lanes, says King. In addition to widened lanes along Arthur, the city will be striping a new stretch of bike lane on Higgins between Pattee Canyon and South Avenue, which will complete the pathway from 39th Street to Brooks Street.

Arthur Avenue sees plenty of bicycle traffic due to its proximity to the University of Montana, says Giordano. While cyclists typically aren’t in danger of being doored (since street parking along the Arthur stretch is illegal), bicycle riders will at least have a little more elbow room. The wider lanes will more than square with the published recommendations of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). AASHTO recommends a 4-foot minimum width if there are no parked cars. Arthur Avenue’s lanes will measure roughly 5 feet 8 inches once the work is complete.

Currently, says city bicycle/pedestrian program manager Phil Smith, Missoula has approximately 16 miles of bike lanes and eight miles of bike routes, where space for striped bike lanes is inadequate.

The widened strip along Arthur is one of a number of small, upcoming improvements to Missoula’s transportation infrastructure.

“Everything adds up to a more useful road system,” says King.

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