Washington & Scott Bike Boulevards Project
The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) has received federal funding to design and construct a bicycle boulevard along E./W. Washington Street and W. Scott Street in the Near South Side. The project follows W. Scott Street from S. Layton Boulevard to S. 20th Street, S. 20th Street from W. Scott Street to S. Washington Street, and E. and W. Washington Street from 20th Street to the Kinnickinnic River Trail. Bicycle boulevards, also known as neighborways or calm streets, reduce speeding using treatments like signs, pavement markings, speed humps and traffic circles to make a street safer and more attractive for bicyclists.
What is this project? What is a bicycle boulevard?
Bicycle boulevards are neighborhood streets with less traffic and lower speeds that are designed to create a low-stress, bicycle-friendly environment. A variety of traffic calming treatments are used to reduce or eliminate speeding, discourage drivers from cutting through the neighborhood, and make the corridor more comfortable for walking and biking. This project will use a combination of speed humps, neighborhood traffic circles, curb extensions (also called bump-outs), signs, and pavement markings to create the bicycle boulevard. Bike boulevards are sometimes called neighborways, neighborhood greenways, or calm streets, because they are also great for people walking, using transit, or simply enjoying the street.
Many people would like to bike more often, both for fun and exercise and to get places like the local coffee shop, a friend's house, or school and work. About 40% of all trips are two miles long or less, and most bicyclists can travel two miles in under 15 minutes, so in theory getting to more places by bicycle is a very attainable goal. However, few people feel comfortable biking next to busy, high-speed traffic—even with a bike lane. Creating a network of low-stress biycle boulevards, protected bike lanes, and trails will enable more Milwaukeeans to bike more places, which has benefits for both bicyclists and the City as a whole.
The project includes 2 miles of bike boulevard along:
- E. and W. Washington Street from the Kinnickinnic River Trail to S. 20th Street
- S. 20th Street from W. Washington Street to W. Scott Street
- W. Scott Street from S. 20th Street to S. Layton Boulevard
DPW has plans to extend the bike boulevard westward to eventually connect to a proposed bike boulevard along S. 37th Street from W. Lincoln Avenue to W. Pierce Street with access to the Hank Aaron State Trail (HAST).
What are the benefits of bicycle boulevards?
Traffic calming reduces speeding, which improves safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers alike. Drivers who are traveling more slowly are less likely to hit people, objects or other cars. When they do crash, the damage and injuries are less severe. Some treatments on bike boulevards also make streets better for people walking. For example, curb extensions shorten the distance pedestrians have to walk in front of cars (and bikes) to cross the street.
Fewer cars and slower traffic also create quieter, calmer neighborhood streets for people who live along bike boulevards. Residents can enjoy sitting on their porch and feel more comfortable letting their kids play in the front yard. These improvements tend to increase home values along bicycle boulevards.
Encouraging more people to bike has significant health benefits. Incorporating exercise into a regular routine not only helps people lose weight but also improves cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of diabetes.
More people biking instead of driving reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality. Driving has huge environmental impacts in the United States—the transportation sector is responsible for 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions, or about 1,800,000,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Better air quality also reduces the risk of asthma attacks and other lung-related health issues.
Why these streets?
The idea for this project comes from the 2010 Milwaukee Bicycle Master Plan. The plan proposed bike lanes along W. Washington Street, and recommended a bicycle boulevard along W. Virginia, Bruce, and Pierce Streets. Later, as part of the 2015 Walker Square Strategic Action Plan, led by the Milwaukee Department of City Development, neighbors suggested a “local street bike way” east-west connection along W. Washington Street and W. Scott Street.
These streets are an ideal within a citywide bike boulevard network because they both run parallel to several busy streets. Washington Street and Scott Street both lie between National Avenue and Greenfield Avenue, which are major streets carrying a wide range of multimodal traffic. The lower traffic on Washington Street and Scott Street provide an excellent east-west low-stress bike route.
City-conducted speed studies have shown that drivers on Washington Street and Scott street are, on average, traveling at speeds exceeding the posted speed limit. Some drivers were recorded going as fast as 53 MPH on Scott Street, where the posted speed limit is 25mph. Facilities such as bicycle boulevards, with traffic calming treatments, are important in helping to reduce these speeds to desired levels.
For more information about the project, contact us at [email protected] or (414) 286-8750.