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Pedaling space

A bike rider rolls north on Tower Grove Avenue at Manchester in The Grove along a shared car and bike lane on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

St. Louis has 150 miles of on-street bike routes, the bulk of which — 101 miles — are shared with cars.

They’re marked with “sharrows,” which are markings depicting a biker and a double arrow painted on the pavement.

And the city has 25 miles of bike lanes painted on streets, as well as a mile of parking-protected lanes downtown on Chestnut Street.

Those are the stats the city listed on its recent annual renewal application to Bicycle Friendly Communities program, under which it holds a bronze rating.

Some drivers don’t like losing a lane of traffic to bike lanes, which have become more common in the city in recent years. And plans are in the works to keep expanding them, said Jamie Wilson, the city’s bike/pedestrian coordinator.

A transportation study focusing on downtown St. Louis is about to begin that will include updating the bike plan there, as well as looking at retiming signals.

And the streets department is readying for meetings with aldermen to look at paving for the next fiscal year and at the potential for new bike lanes, something Wilson said will include more input from residents going forward.

Post-Dispatch City Hall reporter Koran Addo and I talked recently with candidates for mayor of St. Louis about transportation issues. Here is what several of them had to say about bike lanes. The other candidates thought there were more pressing concerns for the city.

Democratic candidates Jeffrey Boyd and Tishaura Jones support expanding bike lanes in the city and getting more people to use them, although both said more community input is needed before the lanes are added to streets.

Boyd said he hears frustration from people in his ward because they’re not used to the lanes, but he wants to make sure cyclists feel safe in hopes of getting as many cars off the road as possible.

Jones, who lives near Union Boulevard, said the loss of a lane of traffic on that street for a bike lane seemed like it happened overnight, with no warning.

“As a resident, I’d like to get a little more warning when that change is going to happen,” she said.

Democrat Antonio French echoed that sentiment, saying he supports the lanes but that the city’s implementation has been a disaster.

“The city needs to be focused not just on bike lanes, but also the conditions of the roads,” he said, adding that he has almost flipped over because of poor road conditions while out on his bike.

Lewis Reed, another Democrat who said he’s an avid cyclist, said that while the city needs to offer more sustainable means of transportation in the city, it also needs to look at places where bike lanes are causing traffic congestion and where the lanes aren’t used.

Jim Osher, a Republican candidate, said the city has other needs more important than expanding bike lanes.

“I think that’s money we should spend in other places,” he said.

Democrat Lyda Krewson said she has supported bike lanes for 15 years, although she hears from neighbors in the Central West End who hate them, and that getting people on bikes means building infrastructure to keep them safe.

“We have plenty of roadway in our city for bike lanes,” Krewson said. “We don’t have to have it all for cars.”