Am I An Ingrate For Wanting A Real Bike Lane?
UPDATE 1:45 pm: After further reflection & discussion, I’d like to walk back 10% of the snarkyness expressed in this post. Indeed, the improvement made to E. 8th St. is cause to be pleased and is adequate. It was pointed out to me that the 1.5 ft gutter pan, although not for riding, does offer someone on a bike room to breathe and the range to express their mobility. I’ve emphasized my earlier appreciation below and mention again, thank you to the City for improving this stretch of 8th St.
Sometime this past week the City of Traverse City re-striped the 8th Street ‘experiment’; a calming of the section of 8th Street between Garfield Ave. and Munson Ave. You may recall that in 2009 the city commission requested that this section be re-striped from four lanes to two, a turning lane and bike lanes. That sort of happened…once it was reluctantly striped the bike lane was 2.5 feet wide and the middle turning lane was a massive 14 feet wide. It’s claimed that it was a mistake and that when the paint faded, it would be redone correctly.
It’s redone; it’s better. It’s now more comfortable riding in the bike lane. 2 extra feet adds a lot of security. Thank you very much.
However, and here is where I’m showing my ingrate tendencies, I think this minimal approach to bicycle infrastructure is unacceptable, unnecessary and overly cautious (concerning motorists).
AASHTO (American Association of State of Highway Transportation) guidelines for bike lanes in this situation, high vehicle counts and speeds above 25-mph (posted 35-mph), calls for a minimum 5 foot bike lane. Bike lanes are sometimes smaller, but only where space simply doesn’t allow it. As the guide writes, “On extremely constrained, low-speed roadways with curbs and no gutter, where the preferred bike lane width cannot be achieved despite narrowing all other travel lanes to their minimum widths, a 4-ft wide bike lane can be used.” (AASHTO 2010 Bike Guide).
This 8th Street cross-section is 46 feet wide with a gutter; there is room for improvement. In a more ideal world, the 12′ turning lane (shocking that it was originally 14′!) is narrowed to 11′ and we’d technically and honestly add another mile of bike lane to the city’s current total of 3 miles (downtown, Woodmere).
More importantly, city staff would demonstrate that they understand that people on bicycles are transportation, that they deserve respect and that bikes belong. I guess this ingrate will have to wait a few more years for that opportunity since there are no bike lanes in the works for 2011.