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City of Cedar Rapids shows off protected bike lanes downtown

Will be permanently installed along Third Avenue in October

Cyclists cross 3rd Avenue during a demonstration of protected bike lanes in downtown Cedar Rapids on Sunday, August 2, 2015. Sunday’s demonstration was Iowa’s first implementation of protected bike lanes, which cycling enthusiast group PeopleForBikes has called “like sidewalks for bikes.” (KC McGinnis / The Gazette)
Cyclists cross 3rd Avenue during a demonstration of protected bike lanes in downtown Cedar Rapids on Sunday, August 2, 2015. Sunday’s demonstration was Iowa’s first implementation of protected bike lanes, which cycling enthusiast group PeopleForBikes has called “like sidewalks for bikes.” (KC McGinnis / The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Drivers and bicyclists will soon see changes to some streets in the heart of Cedar Rapids.

For years, the city has worked to change some one-way streets into two-way streets.

This week, people can expect to see work begin on more of those conversions. By this fall, Second Avenue will become two-way from Sixth Street SW to First Street SE and Third Avenue will open to traffic in both directions from Sixth Street SW to Third Street SE.

The city is also installing a new type of protected bike lane on that portion of Third Avenue.

Transportation leaders and city crews are on a mission to teach those who travel downtown the ins and outs of the new bike lanes.

Officials held an event Sunday afternoon.

“Today is really just to demonstrate how that is going to look, how bicycles would use it and just kind of give people a chance to see it for the first time before we do the project itself and it’s permanently marked,” said city traffic engineering manager Matt Myers, who emphasized the benefit to showing off the change in advance of October, when it becomes permanent.

The protected lanes are designed to help all kinds of cyclists, like Betty Sheets, who rides her bike to work.

She was one of several volunteers who took park in the city’s demonstration of the protected lanes.

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“Anything new is hard for people to adjust to, but I think in the long run, it’s going to be great,” Sheets said.

Project leaders said, once installed, the bike lanes would be among the first of their kind in the state. Crews will install them on Third Avenue from Sixth Street SW to Third Street SE — right next to the curb. They’re called “protected bike lanes” because riders are separated from the traffic lanes by a row of parked cars.

“By doing that you decrease the chance of being doored, a car door opening into a cyclist, you decrease the chance of just being hit and you really make it feel more comfortable for everyone to come out and ride on the street,” said Brandon Whyte, with the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Some bicyclists shared concerns about how this design will slow them down and about blocked views from parked cars.

The city says it is working to make sure the bike lanes are as safe as possible.

As for the entire conversion project, the city says everything, including street markings, signs and pavement work will cost the city about $1 million.

People can expect to see the new two-lane roads and new protected bike lanes in the fall, and they’re asking people to be on the lookout for the changes.

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