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Bike-friendly street design subject of expert's Missoula talk
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Bike-friendly street design subject of expert's Missoula talk

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Bicycle boxes could be coming soon to a Missoula intersection near you.

A bike box? It's a "cutting edge" design for bicycle transportation, and planner and bike guru Joe Gilpin will share a whole host of such ideas with Missoula on Friday. BWAM - the Bike-Walk Alliance for Missoula - is bringing Gilpin to town to talk about the National Association of City Transportation Officials' Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

BWAM board member Ginny Sullivan said Gilpin, a national expert who helped develop the guide and happens to live in Bozeman, will share ideas that are innovative and also have proved effective.

"This is an opportunity for people to get more familiar with the research that backs up what the guide offers as bike accommodations," Sullivan said. "That's always the question mark for people trying new things. Has it been thoroughly researched?"

She said the University of Montana has bike boxes, but they haven't been installed on city or county property. A bike box is a colored box with a bicycle symbol that's painted at an intersection. It alerts drivers that there's a turning space for bicycles.

"So if a bike comes up in the bike lane, and they want to take a turn across traffic, they get precedence over the car parked in the lane," Sullivan said.

Gilpin, who has worked on projects from Bozeman to Dubai as a professional with Alta Planning and Design, is leading the workshop from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, in City Council chambers, 140 W. Pine St. Called "A Tour of Cutting Edge Design," the forum is free and open to the public, but Sullivan requested participants RSVP online at bikewalkmissoula.org.

At the workshop, Gilpin will present highlights from the guide, "a design tool for state-of-the-art practice ... for cities throughout the United States." It's online at nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide/.

The workshop comes just as Missoula is on the cusp of redesigning one of its main corridors, Russell Street. Sullivan said Russell Street wasn't the impetus for bringing Gilpin to town, but the timing works well and the information can feed into the local project.

"It can really help us all talk the same language when we're going out and saying, ‘I'm having trouble with this intersection. Isn't there something you can do?' " Sullivan said.

In a statement, Ann Cundy, senior transportation planner with the Office of Planning and Grants, said she's looking forward to figuring out how new facilities might integrate into the local network.

"We're thrilled BWAM is offering this workshop," Cundy said. "We've attended webinars in the past, but having a local expert present in person will give us an opportunity to visualize how to put new features into practice and ask questions particular to Missoula."

Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at @KeilaSzpaller, 523-5262, keila.szpaller@missoulian.com or on MissoulaRedTape.com.

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