Posted by Steve Reiter on November 9, 2006
Since the installation of the new bike lanes, we have received a lot of comments. Most of these are positive, many have reservations, and some are quite negative.
The positive ones are obvious: Yay! It’s about time! I love it. More, More!, and so on. I, too, am quite pleased.
“Well, I’m glad to see them. But we’ll see whether the city maintains them, whether parking violations are given, whether the road surface gets improved, whether the lines are kept visible.” Etc.
I, too, have these very hesitations.
Here are a few concerns voiced:
- Who says that the narrowing of roads resulting from bike lane installation result in traffic calming?
- The fact that there are leaves piled in the lanes, cars parked in the lanes, and traffic driving over the lane boundary shows that there is no respect for, or perhaps even no awareness of, the bike lanes.
- The only safe bike lane is one separated from the traffic stream.
- As bike lanes proliferate, cyclists will be expected to stick to them, even if they are not the best place to ride at the time or if they don’t go where the rider wants to go.
This has been a long time coming, and my belief is that we need to begin at the beginning.
Yes, it’s a long way from where we want to get to. But in a city that is not known for its bike-friendliness (and one that is always struggling with its budget), demanding More, Bigger, and Better at the outset is a sure path to nowhere.
At this time, there is no money to reshape the streets, and no political will to take on the more complex issues that arise when retrofitting a city (like who loses on-street parking).
First get ridership up and find ways to document what this means (economically, socially, and medically… in increased vibrancy), build a vocal and active base of support among a wide constituency, and demonstrate successful transitions in other cities around the country. When the benefits are obvious to everyone, we will see the kind of bicycle and pedestrian facilities we are dreaming of.
The question of traffic calming has been well-studied. Here are a couple (Report1, Report2) available on the internet. Others can be found through a search. If you find something particularly interesting, let us know.
I look forward to your comments… and your participation in creating our collective future.