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Work to add cycling space on Lakeshore comes to fruition

Alex Doty • May 14, 2018 at 10:00 AM

A community effort to bring extended paved shoulders for bicyclists who use Lakeshore Drive has been hailed as a success.

Work to construct 4-foot-wide paved shoulders on Lakeshore began in 2002 when the Ottawa County Non-Motorized Pathway Plan was created. The plan was developed by soliciting input from stakeholders, the public and local cycling groups to create and expand an interconnected, countywide non-motorized transportation system.

Since then, a collaborative effort among the county, the county Road Commission, local governments, cycling groups, and various public and private-sector entities has occurred to fund and add 4-foot-wide paved shoulders along Lakeshore. 

According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, a 4-foot-wide shoulder is the optimum width for rider safety.

“I’m very pleased to see this long-term project of widening Lakeshore come to completion,” said Tim Meyer, owner of Rock ‘n’ Road Cycle bicycle stores in Holland and Grand Haven — one of the organizations that’s helped make the project a reality. “The 4-foot-wide paved shoulders provide a safe option for cyclists moving too fast for a multi-purpose path. Lakeshore Drive will be safer for all users, and motorists will have an easier time because of the extra room for cyclists to use the road.”

Meyer also noted that the cooperation between local units of government in the county “has been commendable.”

To date, more than 13 miles of 4-foot-wide paved shoulders have been constructed along Lakeshore. The final 5-mile stretch remains in Park Township, from New Holland to 168th Avenue.

“The widened paved shoulders on Lakeshore Drive will improve cyclist safety in Ottawa County and increase opportunities for environmentally friendly transportation alternatives in West Michigan,” Park Township Supervisor Jerry Hunsburger said. “Park Township will benefit from this project for many reasons and we are very excited that the final stretch of this project is within our jurisdiction.”

Following the county’s Non-Motorized Pathway Plan, the Road Commission has constructed 3-foot-wide shoulders along selected routes in the county, with the remaining foot funded through efforts organized by the Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department.

From a successful crowd-funding campaign in 2015 spearheaded by the Planning and Performance Improvement Department, to collaborative efforts with local units of government and businesses, the expanded paved shoulder network along the entirety of Lakeshore Drive is the result of wide community support.

The final stretch of paved shoulders on Lakeshore will occur in three segments, beginning this year. New Holland to Riley will be constructed this summer. The remaining two segments — Riley to Lakewood and Lakewood to 168th Avenue — will be constructed in 2020 and 2021.

County officials say the fundraising effort to complete the final 5-mile stretch from New Holland to 168th wouldn’t have been possible without the help of public and private community partnerships, including donations from the county, the County Parks Commission, Shine Foundation, Park Township, Rock 'n' Road Cycle, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council, Velo City Cycles and Haworth.

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