Proposal Could Ban Bicyclists From Toll Bridge

Franque Thompson

BELLEVUE (KPTM)- The Bellevue Bridge Commission floated a proposal of banning bicyclists from the city's toll bridge that connects Nebraska and Iowa. The commission said cyclists are creating safety hazards not only for themselves, but for drivers.

"You got a big semi following the bicycle, the semi driver becomes impatient and he wants to try to pass the bicycle on the bridge and that creates a safety hazard for the bicycle, the truck driver and the oncoming traffic," said Don Fenster, a member of the Bellevue Bridge Commission.

Bike riders believe they are not the ones at fault.

"Isn't really the bicyclists that cause the problem, necessarily. It's the motorists that break the law and to pass them," said Rick Sanders, president of the bicycling community in Bellevue.

The commission said more than 1.2 million vehicles crossed the bridge in 2013. Nearly 67 thousand were semi trucks. With traffic flows like that, many believe getting rid of bicyclist could be bad for city income.

"The more traffic you get through your business community, whether it's automobile or cycling, you know, helps those businesses," said Sanders.

"If you take one more item out of that bridge, then you start to think what does that do to our downtown market," said Jim Ristow, CEO of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.

The commission believes the two-lane bridge is too narrow. With the speed limit at 25, rush hour commutes get congested quickly. Bicyclists think there's a different problem.

"Maybe drivers are getting more impatient now-a-days. I think we see that at stop lights, you know, in the city," said Sanders.

The commission said it is studying ideas to help traffic flow, including signal lights to let drivers know a bicyclist was on the bridge.

"Now that isn't going to help with the impatient driver, but at least they'll be aware of the fact that there is a bicycle on the bridge," said Fenster.

Pedestrians are not allowed to walk on the bridge. The commission said this is simply because there is not enough space.

The commission will be meeting Tuesday at 8am to further discuss what can be done about the issue.