Bike lanes debated again in Appleton

Fremont Street
Fremont Street

APPLETON - Bike lanes are creating controversy in Appleton again.

This time around the plan is to put the bike lanes on Fremont Street, between Oneida Street and Telulah Avenue. That would remove street parking from more than half that stretch. St. Elizabeth Hospital is also on that stretch of road

The common council discussed the issue Wednesday night, but did not make a final decision.

About a dozen people spoke to Appleton's Common Council about the Fremont Street bike lane proposal Wednesday.

Bike lane supporters said this is a matter of free choice.

"This isn't about anti-cars or vehicles, or being anti-bike, it's about providing an opportunity for me to choose how I wish to transport myself," said Mike Kading.

Those in support say bike lanes offer a healthy alternative for travel and attract people to the area.
They also say the lanes make bicyclists safer, especially those less experienced.

"My children who live, we live less than a mile from their school do not have a safe route to get to school and they would navigate Fremont and the St. E's intersection," said David Babcock.

But there are opposing voices, many of whom have signed petitions against the lanes.

Those opposed have said they're not against bike lanes in general, rather this specific plan. They say for one, the loss of parking will bring down property values.

"Yeah, I park on the street every, single day. It is an inconvenience for me to have to move back and forth, but I understand where you're coming from," said Gary Pier.

More importantly, the opposition said, the bike lanes are tough to navigate, possibly making the road less safe.

"It would seem to me that if you don't wanna have bicycles and cars interacting with each other you would not push forth something that puts as many bicycles on the busiest streets you can possibly find," said Pier.

The arguments on both sides are similar to last spring and summer when bike lanes were put on Mason Street.

The plans are part of a 20-year project the council adopted in 2010 to make the city more bicycle friendly.

The full council sent the issue back to committee for further discussion, so it's unclear when there will be a final decision.

The committee meets on Tuesday.