On Friday, the Missoula City Chamber of Commerce began polling its members on a recent proposal that would turn 5th and 6th Streets between Russell and Higgins into single lane roads. The proposal had had come up in a City Council meeting earlier this month, sponsored by Councilman Alex Taft. Each eliminated lane would turn into a widened bicycle line and parking spaces. It’s an attempt to deal with speeding traffic, and side-swipe accidents. It would give bikers more space and keep cars in the single line.
NBC Montana talked to residents in the area about what they think.
“More parking for our business would be beneficial,” said Kaelyn Clarke, an interior decorator with Hunting and Gathering, a furniture shop that rests on the corner of Higgins and Sixth.
“It's a pretty good idea. There's a lot of bikers in Missoula, and also, you can't see the lines on the double-lane here. People drive in the middle of the road,” said Missoula resident Fred Haar, who would utilize the extra bike lanes.
“Redoing it all… I don’t see the necessity. I'd rather see them put in some lights and people wear helmets for safety. That's something I think needs to be addressed,” said Missoula resident Julie Meagher.
“I think having it one-lane would be too narrow,” said Jason Theroux, who commutes to the University of Montana for work.
The city’s discussion about the proposal is still very much in its early stages. It’s not expected to come back up formally in council chambers until at least September, and a feasibility study could cost upwards of $60,000, according to a city development specialist.