East Side bike lane planters destroyed, reckless driving concerns remain

MILWAUKEE - Several planters, intended to serve as a barrier for bicyclists, were destroyed on Milwaukee's East Side earlier this week.

The East Side Business Improvement District, which owns the planters, said they are 20 years old and won't be replaced. While the damage won't cost the public, the BID said, the long-term solution for reckless driving does need funding.

"They take their chances," Terry Kraemer, who lives in the city's Riverwest neighborhood and bikes during the summer, said of reckless drivers.

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In just 30 minutes of standing on North Avenue on Wednesday, FOX6 News saw cars swerving into where planters would have been.

"You could just sit here all day and entertain yourself," said Kraemer.

<div>Damaged planter on North Avenue</div>
Damaged planter on North Avenue

"That’s why things happen here. I mean, it’s a crazy spot," said David Smulyan, executive director of the East Side BID. "I don’t know exactly what happened. My assumption is that a car that might have been driving distracted or fast ran into it."

Smulyan said the planters were put on North Avenue in the summer of 2023 to act as a safety barrier for the bike lane.

"The fact that these planters are being hit means that it’s better than someone hitting a person," he said.

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Smulyan said the damage is proof that reckless driving is an issue on North Avenue, but the planters have faced some criticism.

"If they were taller I think they would be more visible, especially in the dark," said Kraemer.

Other people said they're dangerous when laying on the street. Smulyan said the BID recognizes it's not the perfect solution.

"We didn’t foresee the challenges. We were thinking that this was going to be another layer of protection," he said.

The BID's long-term solution, Smulyan said, would be a permanent barrier – but he said they need funding. In the meantime, he asks people to bear with them and for drivers to slow down.

The district is working with private contractors to get the broken planters out of the road and hopes to have them cleared by Thursday.