18 April 2012

Bike lane uproar

A bit of a conflict has been stirring in Fargo about the addition of bike lanes to some streets on the north side- specifically University and 10th Ave. This Grand Forks Herald article is bit more detailed and featured a resident comment that stirred me up-
“Bikes don’t belong on our streets to begin with,” 
Well, one citizen aired this grievance and then other city commissioners wanted to put a halt on these things. One even claiming it was "incredibly wrong."

So as veteran bike commuter, I'll chime in with a "what!?" Must have an ax to grind because of some incidents with bicycles.

According to the North Dakota Century code-

39-10.1-02. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.
Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special regulations in this title and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.  
The State recognizes bicycles as vehicles that are allowed use of the roadway.

And incredibly wrong- which seems that the commissioner in question somehow equates this as a moral issue. However, I probably think the comment got perceived out of context. I would have a hunch that the statement was made in light of fiscal responsibility not the moral context of bike lanes. I think his implied idea is - Adding bike lanes would misappropriate funds.

But is the roadway safer?
Yes, when opposed to other options sidewalks. I have personally been hit twice and had plenty of close calls when riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk. Sidewalk visibility to traffic is minimal to motor vehicles on the road. For those of us who use the bicycle for transportation, riding on the road allows us to be seen, to avoid pedestrians, and in most cases to commute much easier.

I have also had some close calls on the roadway- mostly due to distracted driving.

Bike trails are a whole different species. They probably are the safest but certainly there is no way the city is going to install bike trails with intention to be used for transportation.

The big brouhaha comes down to what is safe, and in this case what is perceived as safe. Both side of the argument have something to gain from educating the community to be bike aware and bike safe. I see lots of unsafe riding and bicyclists not obeying traffic laws. I see bicyclists riding at dusk or dawn with no lights or even any hi vis clothing.

A few years ago Fargo was recognized as a bike friendly city by bicycling magazine. I may have blogged about it. It certainly has the infrastructure but has potential to be more bike friendly as this article for the High Plains Reader suggests.

And a bike friendlier and bike safer community will be in turn a better community for all.

2 comments:

Jess said...

I think bike lanes are so important. When I started commuting, there weren't really any in my area. So I got a folding bicycle that I kept in my trunk. I drove about 5 miles, until the bike lanes started, and then I'd ride to the office from there. They recently expanded the bike lanes though, so now I can ride the whole way to work - something I never would have attempted before.

RoYcE said...

Star Trib has an article on bike lanes and paths- http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/150105625.html
In Minneapolis, bike lanes pay off. More non-motorized movement and less pollution to boot (if they can measure that accurately)