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  • Wed February 03 2010
  • Posted Feb 3, 2010
Des Moines, IA by Emily Carlson In the spring, bicyclists will have a lane all to themselves Drivers on Ingersoll Avenue had better get ready to share the road. In just a few months, bicyclists will have a lane of their own. Several business leaders along Ingersoll are calling the bike lanes "death traps." However, at the "Iowa Bicycle Coalition's" annual summit today, they say bike lanes save lives. Ingersoll Ave. is one of the most dangerous streets in Des Moines. In just two years, there have been 152 crashes and two fatal accidents. "Safety is a big issue on Ingersoll. Unfortunately there have been a few deaths on Ingersoll as a result of traffic. Anyone who has parked on Ingersoll and tries to get out of their car knows quickly they better be darn careful," says city council person Christine Hensley. Des Moines engineers say 70% of crashes will be prevented with a new three lane approach starting in April. Ingersoll will be reduced from two-lanes in each direction to one with a turn lane down the middle and bike lanes on each shoulder. "They help motorized traffic maintain faster speeds and they're not slowed down by cyclists. It's a safer way for people to get around town," says Steve Durrant of Alta Planning and Design, a firm that specializes in bike friendly street design. An Iowa State University study backs up that claim. It found a 29% drop in crashes when roads are converted from four lanes to the one favored by Des Moines leaders. "It's a change you have to try. You have to give it a try and get used to it. It's just paint. It's not as if we're widening the road or changing the configuration. It can always be put back," says Mark Wyatt of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. The city council plans for the lanes to be reconfigured just as soon as it's nice enough to start painting. They'll test it out for six months and after that they'll send out surveys. They want to know what drivers and businesses along Ingersoll think of the new plan.

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