Sharing Third Street

Sharing Third Street

Cali Hunter

The Marquette Downtown Development Authority (DDA) hosted a public forum on Thursday to discuss the bike lanes on Third Street and the upcoming street closure for the Marquette Marathon.

The first issue at the forum concerned the closing of Third Street for the Marquette Marathon, which takes place annually on Labor Day weekend. In the past both lanes of traffic on the street have been closed to ensure the safety of the runners.

Stephanie Zadroga-Langlois, a member of the Marquette Marathon committee, said the race brings nearly $500,000 to the community. However, many Third Street business owners spoke up about the negative impact it has on their businesses.

“It cut my business down by about 10 percent of what it could have been,” said Bob Dudo, owner of Java Bay.

One solution, said DDA Executive Director Mona Lang, would be moving road barricades in closer to Third Street, to let people know that the businesses are open on the day of the race. She said putting up signs and advertisements letting people know the street is open would be benefit businesses as well. There was also a brief discussion of possibly re-routing the race around Third Street but since the marathon is a Boston-qualifier, it would take a lot of time and manpower to create and certify the new route.

The route and closures for the 2017 race are set but the DDA hopes to come up with solutions that will cater to both Third Street businesses and the marathon participants in the future.

“There’s not going to be a decision today,” Lang said on Thursday. “This [forum] is really just to open up some dialogue.”

The second issue addressed at the forum concerned the bike lanes on Third Street and whether or not they should be repainted. Many business owners favor the bike lanes, citing increases in business and accessibility for all customers. Some business owners said the lanes inhibit business, since drivers are afraid of colliding with cyclists.

“I haven’t heard a positive comment about it,” said Mike Valle, owner of Valle’s Village Market. He said the bike lanes have actually decreased his customer count by nearly 100 per day.

Land said pedestrian-cyclist accidents have tremendously decreased since the implementation of the lanes; however, the number of driveways still makes riding in the lanes dangerous.

Jorma Lankinen, a resident of Marquette, voiced his concern on how the bike lanes make the street narrow, which can be dangerous for both motorists and cyclists.

“There’s no space to legally pass bikers,” Lankinen said, citing a law that requires a motorist to give a biker four feet of space when passing them.

Greg Potvin, DDA board member, agreed there are dangers associated with the lanes, but that they can be solved if both drivers and cyclists know and understand roadway regulations and laws.

“We’re not planning wizards,” said Community Development Director Dennis Stachewicz. “There’s a lot of method to the madness and this street is actually just one of many other streets in the community that are receiving treatments for complete streets or multi-modal transportation.”

A capital outlay discussion will take place on the issue in June, and a budget meeting is scheduled for August that will determine the future of the bike lanes.

More information on these issues and how they affect the Third Street corridor can be found on www.mqtcty.org/authority-dda.