Douglas' New Bike Path & Blue Star Road Changes Are Creating A Hazardous Situation For Motorists & Bikers, According To Local Accident Victim
The traffic pattern created by the City of Douglas’ new bike path on Blue Star Highway—from just south of the bridge at Main Street to Center Street—has become “hazardous,” George Judd, a part-time resident who owns property on Lakeshore Drive told city council at Monday’s meeting.
Still reeling from neck and back pain, Judd related to council that when his Uber driver—who Judd described as competent and responsible—was driving on the bridge on Blue Star Highway on Sunday, and he saw another vehicle coming in the opposite direction at close proximity to his lane, the Uber driver suddenly veered off his lane because he got confused, mislead by the sudden bifurcation of the road.
That bifurcation, just on the south side of the bridge, splits vehicular traffic from bike traffic by a landscaped median on the west side of the highway.
Completed earlier this summer, the 10-foot-wide non-motorized path along the west side—part and parcel of the 20-mile Blue Star Trail—reduced the highway from three lanes to two lanes.
“Better signage needs to be placed there,” said Judd. “The town (Douglas) is looking at a major lawsuit.”
Judd was being driven from an airport to his home; he hit his head on the car window during the incident.
“That (type of confusion and incidents) is not the first time I have heard of that,” Douglas Mayor Pro-Tem Greg Harvath conceded about the potentially deadly traffic pattern.
“It’s not the first time I have heard of it,” echoed Douglas City Councilwoman Kathryn Mooradian.
The Douglas City Council called on city staff and the Douglas Department of Public Works to do more to mitigate and ameliorate the situation, including putting signage up to help motorists better understand the road.
Others have also expressed their concerns about the city’s Blue Star Corridor rebuilding project; some locals have vented their frustration on social media posts, some saying that they have seen motorists use the bike lane in what could have resulted in fatal accidents.
Some locals—and some Douglas City Council members themselves—are also not pleased with the aesthetics of the Blue Star Corridor project, highlighting its “patchiness” and inconsistency.
The $370,000 project was mostly covered by the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant awarded to Douglas and the rest by the monies from the city’s major street fund.
The reconfiguration of the highway has roots in the 2011 planning survey, demonstrating that more than 70 percent of Douglas residents wanted walkable and bike-friendly features through the community, particularly near the water and downtown.
The project was folded into the Blue Star Trail project, the proposed 20-mile recreation pathway connecting lakeshore communities from South Haven to Saugatuck Township.
Saugatuck Township has also fully endorsed the Blue Star Trail, having completed a portion of it in its jurisdiction, the stretch from Old Allegan Road to North Street.
The City of Saugatuck is a different story when it comes to the controversial bike path.
Officials there say a pre-condition for their endorsement to any bike trail in their jurisdiction must address the pressing safety and traffic impact at the Lake Street and Blue Star Highway intersection.
They also do not see the justification or the merits of endorsing a temporary, interim route because that presents its own safety problems.
Saugatuck and Douglas share jurisdiction of the Blue Star Highway bridge, each with their their respective half.