Safe route to the pool for pedestrians, bicyclists

Jordan Gerard/SGH The bike lane seen here runs from the pool to Trinity Lutheran Church on Maple Drive. The lane is intended for pedestrians and bicyclists for all ages, going in either direction. There is no parking on the north side of the road from June 1 to Aug. 31.

Hey bicyclists, walkers, pool kids and anyone else of any age walking along Maple Drive: there’s a new lane on the right side of the road for your safety.

Approved by the Spring Grove City Council and funded by a Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant, those heading to the pool this summer have a safer route with the help of a pedestrian/bike lane. The grant amount was $2,000.

Parks and Rec Committee Chair Scott Solberg said the lane is the “best bang for the buck.”

“It’s pool season,” he said. “A lot of kids are traveling to and from the pool.”

The lane can be used for pedestrians and bicyclists going to and from the pool. Solberg also wishes for adults and daycares to use the lane too. The lane is five feet wide from the curb to the line.

He’s also noticed cars driving slower and being more cautious on Maple Drive. Motorists have told him they feel safer driving on the road now because pedestrians and bikes have a designated lane.

There is no parking on the north side of the street from June 1 to Aug. 31.

“It helps nervous kids and motorists feel safer and be safer,” Solberg said. “I told elementary kids about the lane before school ended, and they were really excited about it.”

Though the intention is for the lane to be used at all times, drivers should still be aware of pedestrians and bicyclists not using the lane. Pedestrians and bicyclists should always be responsible for their safety on the road.

“Always assume there’s someone not paying attention,” Solberg said. “Kids especially need to be responsible for their safety.”

Though the safest option would be a sidewalk with a grass boulevard before the street, that’s not always an option due to funds and subtracting green space from lawns.

The next best thing was a pedestrian and bike lane, Solberg said, which is “safer than nothing.”

The change in pool hours also helped decrease road, foot and bike traffic, as kids trickle out more slowly from the pool now.

“There used to be a mass exodus from the pool at 5 p.m. when they closed, but that’s not the case anymore,” he said. “They kind of slowly tumble out of there. Some have to be home at 5 p.m., others at 5:30 p.m. and so on.”

The conversation for a safe route to the pool stemmed from a conversation about safe routes to school in fall 2017.

Safe Routes to School is a Minnesota Department of Transportation program that helps cities determine safe and easy routes for kids to get to school. When the group came and visited Spring Grove, the conversation turned to talking about the entire city and other streets that needed safe walking and biking spaces.

“We’re hoping this type of lane can be used on other streets too, such as behind city hall near Ellingson Elevator,” he said. “It’s kind of a ‘no-man’s land’ behind there.”

That street, 1st St. NW, could see a bike lane installed or improvements, as the water tower will be torn down and the new one built in a different location, however the project would be considered after the water tower project is complete.