Over the last week, I took another short ride through the city. About an hour seems to be all I can spare these days. My mission has been trying to figure out some different 15-20 mile routes so that I don’t go too far over my self-imposed allotted time.
One of the interesting features of this area is that there is a dedicated bike lane on the highway that runs through the city. It’s something that I found unusual when we arrived because I haven’t noticed such a thing in other cities (granted, I haven’t been to every city, or even to most cities in the US, so my experience in this regard is limited). Because of the bike lane running along the shoulder, the speed limit for motorized traffic is 45 mph (or at least, that is my assumption for such a low speed limit on a highway); however, I have taken note that no one seems to actually drive at that speed and most of the time, even if going 10-15 mph over that speed, people seem to want to drive even faster.
The route I took along the east side of town eventually took me back across to the west side and I decided to try out the bike lane on the highway to see if it was more efficient to travel than the route I was going to take. As I was riding back home, I had only a few miles to ride, but had to contend with several highway exits while continuing on my path. Because of the aforementioned speed of motorized traffic, I had no idea how unnerving it actually would be to ride here. I was quickly reminded that the painted lines do nothing to protect me and because the motorized traffic was hitting speeds easily 20 mph over the posted speed, I was concerned every time I had to cross over one of the exits. Each time I would cross, I’d stick my left arm out and wave my hand, just to make sure anyone exiting that I couldn’t see would take note of the fact that I was crossing to continue straight ahead.
This experience reminded me just how ineffective bike lanes can be. Well-meaning individuals create these spaces to allow for ease of travel, but often don’t take into consideration the lack of safety for the individuals who are most vulnerable. I can’t imagine that a more timid or less-experienced rider would ever ride in this bike lane (or at least they likely wouldn’t make that choice more than once), and even with years of riding under my belt, I still found it intimidating, and if I’m honest, a bit scary!
Have you noticed a path/space that seems unsafe that was designed to allow for ease of travel for those on bikes? Do people frequently use the path/lane, or do you notice that riders choose other routes?