Home > Complete Streets > An easy path to more bicycle lanes?

An easy path to more bicycle lanes?

Creating bike lanes

Guest post by Henry Morgenstein

Before I air this on WNMC, I wondered if any of you on MyWHaT have any comments, any useful additions. Thanks! Henry

It will take me awhile to get to my point, but my point is that at no cost to us whatsoever — let me repeat — at no cost whatsoever to any of us, we could create dozens & dozens of miles of bicycle lanes in town. Bear with me for a second.

I’ve always been against making any street a one-way-for-cars. Long ago I learned that making any street one way rather than two ways increases the number of cars traveling on the street, increases the speed of cars, increases the number of accidents on the street.

Henry asks, is there room for a bike lane?

Such would be the case if we made Union & Cass one way streets — but seventh & eighth street are one way, and State street is one way — and yet these are lightly traveled streets, streets where cars are not speeding — most obviously because of the frequent stop signs..

Please envision seventh street along with me. There is one lane for cars to park, and there are two lanes for cars to drive along. Two lanes? Do cars, inside our small town, need a passing lane? Why then two lanes devoted to moving cars. What a waste of space.

Instant solution, instant bike lanes. All one way streets in town: One lane, parked cars; One lane moving cars, One lane two-way bicycle lane.

Many city streets are more than thirty feet wide: 8 feet for parking twelve to fourteen feet for car travel — that leaves more than eight feet for a bicycle lane.

What wonderful wide bike lanes you would have traverse City — and how very many of them you would have Traverse City.

I said it would cost us nothing. Well, we would have to paint lines & put up a sign or two saying — for bicycles only.
How much would that cost? I have a sneaking suspicion the bicycle community would volunteer to do it, or chip in to pay for it.

Those would be terrific, wide, welcoming, bicycle lanes — and they are bicycle lanes that are easy to plow in the winter because they are part of the city street!

We need bicycle lanes. We do not need two car lanes for cars to zip past each other in our town. Time to make room for us bicyclists. We deserve our share of the road.

We can be generous to all uses. Cars will still own more than two-thirds of the road — to park, and to drive. But finally — and it is long overdue, one-third of the road will be for transport that is not motorized. 

What do you think? 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: My Wheels are Turning is published with standard journalistic practice and ethics. The basics of which include: 1) All contributors, including commenters, seek to be accurate and inclusive in the coverage. 2) They treat all topics, viewpoints and individuals covered in a post with respect and dignity. 3) This is an editorial endeavor in that this online publication seeks to support and shift public perception of the value of public space, as well as pedestrian and bike culture. 4) All content is first & foremost the perspective & opinion of the author of that post and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor, other contributors, or underwriters.

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  1. June 28, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Great Idea! But I believe we will need some type of physical separation to implement two-way bike lanes.

  2. GregGraetz
    June 28, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I’d like to reference back to a bit that was posted a while back on this site regarding how Portland set their bike lanes up on the passenger side of the car so as to create the safe buffer from vehicular traffic, as well as, and just as important, away from the chance of getting “doored” by a parked car. I do believe Front Street has plenty of space to be redesigned as such: Far-left lane for vehicular traffic, left-center for parked vehicles, right-center for bikes in motion, far-right for bike corrals. I will paste in a website link to a page that has the same photo that was on this site, since I didn’t locate the one here:

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2009/08/one_less_car_lane_portland_ope.html

    If multiple other cities in the USA have implemented this type of street lane designation, there is no reason it cannot also be done here. It isn’t a new revolutionary idea, it is one that has already been tested and proven to work in other communities where the total volume of vehicular traffic far surpasses ours here in TC.

    Additionally, the following two links show how to paint your street so that bikes have the _safe_ right of way for a left turn:

    hhttp://ilovebricks.blogspot.com/2011/07/bike-lanes-or-lip-service.html
    http://fcbikecoop.org/blog/tag/fort-collins/

  3. June 28, 2012 at 9:27 am

    In this vein, 7th Street could provide an amazingly comfortable counter flow bike lane on the south side, separated by a buffer and parked cars, with the north side of 7th Street reserved for car traffic. You see these used a lot in neighborhoods in Montreal. It thus solves the design issue with the one way streets while encouraging all types of people to feel secure and comfortable while riding.

    Montreal

  4. Doug Spence
    June 28, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Great idea!
    In my experience with two lane bikeways- in Madison they have areas along roads that barricade between the bike and road traffic. This make general plowin in winter more difficult. In Arlinglington VA they had similar streets that used large and frequent Sharrows (share the road with bike images). This approach would raise less controversy than ‘dedicated’ bike lanes ( this could be a plan B if the better idea of dedicated lanes wasn’t moving forward).

  5. Ian
    June 28, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I think one of the big problems with dedicated bicycle lanes in traverse city is that, unlike Portland, we have a legitimate winter in northern michigan with months of snowy roads and nearly 0 cyclists. So, making a physically separated area for cyclists is a waste of space for 4 months out of the year and a headache for plows.

    Personally, i have never had a problem getting around traverse city using the infrastructure we have in place, if i need to head east from downtown, state street is low traffic and i have never had a problem biking with the flow of traffic in the road. If i need to head west, front street works pretty well with its bike lane, just have to pay attention to doors, or i head along the bay on the tart trail. heading to the hospital/comons is fairly easy on the previously mentioned 7th street. I don’t/wouldn’t want to bike anywhere south of 14th street on my bicycle because that generally means i need to be shopping for something that wont easily fit in a backpack so i take my car for any errand to that neck of the woods.

    I know @GLHowe has expressed a concern about south airport and bicycle traffic, and i admit that that road is not cyclist friendly for crossing or traveling on. For other bicycle commuting though, i think our city isn’t too bad. We just have to get a little creative and take advantage of streets with low traffic. I don’t think it is the city’s job to adapt completely to cyclists, they have built roads for automobiles and those work pretty damn good for us too. We are much more flexible that asphalt, concrete and city planners can find alternate routes to our destinations that are both easier and safer for bicycle traffic.

  6. June 29, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Ian, cold and precipitation are less of a deterrence than typically believed, otherwise Minneapolis wouldn’t be consistently ranked the #1 big city for bicycling in the United States. Minneapolis/St. Paul has steadily seen the number of people ride regularly increase because they invested in infrastrure that is safe, comfortable, and designed to encourage more people than just the intrepid. They’ve done this in part by using buffered cycle-tracks where parked cars separate people riding bikes from people driving cars.

    Montreal, another northern winter City and also a leader in all-season active transportation has also found weather is less of a deterrent to people walking and biking than poor design, among other things. A classic design for it and it will happen scenario.

    I agree that Traverse City has a lot going for it. Our neighborhoods are quiet. Our size and topography create a lot of natural options. However, with a very small increase in creativity, understanding, and funds already being allocated, we can invest in streets and places for people, not just our automobiles.

  7. June 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I think more bike lanes are a great idea, not just as added safety for cyclists, but as traffic calming in the neighborhoods. Call me crazy (I’m sure someone will!), but I think the cyclists could share the plowed bike lanes with pedestrians in the winter when the sidewalks become so icy and dangerous due to infrequent plowing, and cyclist presence is relatively low. I’m all for cycling in the winter, but I usually prefer to walk…and those city sidewalks can be impassable in the winter…often forcing pedestrians into cars lanes to find some decent footing.

  8. garyhepler
    July 1, 2012 at 12:45 am

    this is the silliest thing I have ever seen!

  9. henrymorge
    July 2, 2012 at 7:03 am

    “The silliest thing I have ever seen.” What if you could, for a second, erase the past. You are planning a long city street (9th? 11th?) and you have a choice: you can devote 30 feet to cars and nothing but cars, or you could set aside one lane for parking, one lane for motorized vehicles, one lane for non-motorized vehicles.

    Are you telling me that in today’s climate everyone would yell “all 30 feet for cars & nothing but cars?” I say there would be a fierce debate & many would say: let’s have a bicycle lane, a lane for non-motorized vehicles.

    Too many people are stuck in the past: all for cars & nothing but cars.

  10. Random Biker
    July 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Agreed, and a good point. I admit at first I thought it seemed like a waste to dedicate the full width of a traffic lane to bikes, but if it’ll mean a plowed, maintained foot- and pedal-traffic route in wintertime, it’s worth it. I too have had to dodge cars in the street in winter because the sidewalks simply weren’t there for all the snow, and it’s frustrating.

  11. Judy Arnold
    July 6, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Love this idea, Gary! 7th & 8th streets would be perfect for this design, and I think the neighborhood association would be on board. Nice alternative to the “parking on both sides of the street proposal” that is currently being sought to slow traffic. This design is a great way to calm traffic (people do go way too fast on 7th, 8th and all streets in Central Neighborhood) and serve the needs of our biking community.

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