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Safety concerns, particularly at intersections, dominated the conversation Tuesday at a public input meeting soliciting feedback on plans for bike lanes along Hwy. 33 in the city of La Crosse.

The crowd was pretty evenly split, with 26 raising their hands in favor of bike lanes and 19 against. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has plans to repave the highway, which runs along Jackson Street between Third Street and Losey Boulevard, in 2021, and is asking the city to decide whether it is painted for bike lanes or not.

Daniel and Rebecca Deetz both enjoy bike riding, particularly for short errands and things like that. They spoke in favor of adding the bike lanes, which they said would improve the safety of the state highway and encourage alternative transportation, particularly for people to commute back and forth to work.

“By having the bike lanes there, it would go a long ways in trying to connect different parts of the city that right now are difficult to travel to,” Daniel said. “The alternative routes aren’t ideal.”

That would help relieve issues from traffic congestion and parking, especially near Viterbo University as students take advantage of the bike lanes, he said.

Rebecca added that people should look at the long-term when considering bike lanes.

“If we add more bike lanes, there are less people are driving and less people need parking. You’ve got to look a few years out,” Rebecca said.

Safety topped the concerns for those who spoke out against bike lanes as well.

Pamela Strittmater said she would be scared to death to ride a bicycle down Jackson Street, alongside the highway traffic.

“I know bike lanes are important, but living on Jackson Street for the length of time that I have, I don’t think it’s safe,” she said. “I don’t think it’s wide enough. There’s not enough parking on my street now for the cars that are there.”

People also raised concerns about the intersections of Jackson and 16th streets and Jackson and 19th, particularly the latter, which also intersections with State Road. Strittmater, among others, asked WisDOT to look into ways to make those safer.

“That intersection is extremely tight. Traffic is backed up two to three blocks,” she said.

Daniel was happy to see so many people at the meeting who were thinking about how the city can make things better.

“We’re really pleased with all the progress the city has made just over the past few years. I think it’s a fantastic idea to try to make La Crosse a little more bike-friendly,” Daniel said.

Because the project doesn’t include any widening of the road — which would require property acquisition — including bike lanes would mean parking on one side of the street would need to be eliminated.

According to city estimates, losing parking on the north side of the street would result in 180 fewer spaces and eliminating it on the south side would cost drivers 200 spaces.

Preliminary plans for the repaving project include grinding down the top, repairing the concrete and putting in an asphalt overlay. While design plans aren’t yet finalized, preliminary plans call for the replacement of damaged curb and gutter and replacing the curb ramps at all the intersections.


City government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

(12) comments


I got this one. Widen the sidewalks. Boom, problem solved

LaCrosse Lady

Why can’t they put a bike lane on one street over with less traffic? Give the street the right of way except for west Ave and 16th.

Side streets have less traffic and ate much less dangerous. People in neighborhoods would then be more likely to use them. They would probably welcome them.

Put blinking pedestrian lights up on 16th and West Ave.

Denton would be better. It goes past Longfellow, and the Hospital. It goes near the library and Festival.

Put a bike overpass on Denton/Losey.

Create another bike route on Market, then farther down on State.

Create bike lanes intersecting them on 16th St and maybe 8th or 9th.

They would be safer and encourage family outings. Major roads never make good bike roads.

Madison made a bike lane on East Washington that was a disaster. It left bikes out in traffic - and ended right before the capital where traffic was at its worst.

Bikers regularly used the bike routes on either side of East Washington.

I suggest a study of where people are biking now with motion sensor cameras and adjust to the routes they use now. Make them safer.

If you used 2 parallel side roads you could have one bike lane going one way on one street then another bike lane going the other way on the next street. Then each street could have no parking on the bike lane side in the summer. In the winter when snow days kicked in - parking would be allowed.

Then no area would be over stressed and it would be more enjoyable.


If bike lanes a put on Jackson Street then the city is looking at a ton of accidents because there is hardly enough room for cars to pass each other. The bike lanes that were put on Clinton Street are right in the way of traffic!!! That was really smart thinking there!


Bicycle on Jackson St.? That's like a suicide wish. It would be impossible to widen it any further. Too many homes and businesses would be taken out. If a bicyclist can legally use the sidewalk in that area, the problem is solved.

Rick Czeczok

How can anyone possibly say that this would be safe. Look how much room there is around Viterbo, especially if there is an event at the center. Really not much to discuss. Council, spend more time on fixing the roads you have that are so bad that you can't even ride a bike on, much less drive a car safely on.


If the road is so dangerous that people deem it unsafe for bicycles, then there's obviously a problem a with the road as-designed. This is the opportunity to design it to be safer for everyone, including drivers, while also encouraging and enabling non-car methods of transportation.

Rick Czeczok

There is no room in many areas of that road to expand. That's the problem. Houses are right on top of the road now.


I have to go with the others who believe Jackson Street is too narrow and too busy with car traffic to safely accommodate bike riders, and that's with no disrespect meant for bike riders. I have no idea what the exact ratio would be between cars and bikes if the bike lanes were added, but if there are thousands of cars and maybe 20 or even 50 bikers per day, I' sorry, but we have to concentrate on accommodating the auto traffic. What if we added bike lanes on a nearby quieter street, like Winnebago or Mississippi Street? That would only be a block or two away from Jackson, and it would be far safer than bikes on Jackson.


I don't think that a bike lane is necessary on a road that narrow. Don't invite dangerous practices.


As someone who depends upon a bike to get everywhere I need to go I must say that Jackson St. is too narrow to safely have bike lanes on each side, giving cyclists 3 feet of clearance from vehicles. A painted line on the street is no barrier of protection because motorists going around somebody turning left would have no problem with swinging into the bike lane.
I would never ride in a bike lane on Jackson but I would ride on the sidewalk which is completely legal in La Crosse except in a specified area of downtown. And there is very little pedestrian traffic on Jackson St. Frankly there is little pedestrian traffic anywhere in the city other than areas where there are a lot of people.
There is no place in La Crosse that I would need to go that would require me to ride my bike on a busy street.


Totally agree. I ride my trike on sidewalks, where it's safer, and I rarely have a problem with peds. I always yield to them. Our streets were not designed, centuries ago, to accommodate parking, cars, and bikes. A driver must be constantly alert to traffic, peds crossing without looking, and bicyclists violating road rules. That can be a lot.


I work on Jackson St. and the only place to park is on the street. With all the heavy traffic that is on Jackson St., I wouldn't put a bike lane in. Let them ride on the sidewalk it would be much safer for them.

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