On Picnic Point: Pedestrians yes, pedals no

Beginning on Saturday, May 28, the gravel path that runs from the entrance to Picnic Point to the eastern tip of the point will be closed to bicycle riding.

The change from a shared-use path to a pedestrians-only path, officials say, is to protect the safety of all people using the path and to protect the significant cultural and natural resources of the area.

The university’s Lakeshore Nature Preserve Committee approved the action at its meeting on April 27. It also recommended final implementation of the new policy to Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Planning and Management Alan Fish after a recent public information meeting and prior deliberations on the topic in May 2005.

In 2005, what was then the Campus Natural Areas Committee deliberated and collected public input on a recommendation to ban bicycle use on Picnic Point. At that time, the committee voted to continue to allow bicycle use on the main Picnic Point path, but to try to encourage riders to slow down and respect other users of the path. Those efforts have not resolved the conflict issues and now the path will become a pedestrians-only path.

“The committee made this difficult decision with very long-term stewardship goals in mind,” says Bill Barker, chair of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve Committee.

“It is really in everyone’s best interest,” says Gary Brown, director of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. “There are many wonderful bicycle paths throughout the city for users to enjoy. We feel that this new policy will help protect this fragile and important natural area on campus for years to come.”

Brown says new signage will be installed to remind users that the path is for pedestrian use only and additional bike racks at the west entrance to Picnic Point will allow users to secure their bicycles and enjoy walking to the eastern end of the point.

Later this summer, the tip of Picnic Point will be the site of some construction as renovations begin on the gathering area and protection of the eroded shoreline gets underway. Brown said the work should be completed in the summer of 2012.

Bicycle paths that remain open in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve include the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path from the Limnology Building on the east to Oxford Drive on the west in Shorewood Hills, and the paved path that passes through the woods from the Temin Lakeshore Path to the intersection of Lake Mendota Drive and Eagle Heights Drive.

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