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Opinion about
Bike Lanes

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David Sullivan, 2-19-99

To me, the most important thing about bike lanes is that they send a message to everyone that "bikes belong." I do not need this message -- it is the latent cyclist whom I want to coax out of his or her SOV. Also, I want to reach the anti-cyclists... those motorists who see a cyclist on a busy road with a wide outside lane and no stripe and who think to themselves "that guy has not right to be here." The same road with a bike lane stripe is less likely to provoke such a thought. Again, that's my humble opinion.

James Hitselberger (Austin Chronicle's "Postmarks", 7-17-98, p. 8)

I have been roused to the defense of Amy Babich, who has been criticized twice in these spaces for "the total absurdity" of her promotion of a bicycle lane to San Antonio [Zimmer, "Postmarks," Vol. 17, No. 44]. Bike lanes along highways are not the pipe dreams that her critics would have us imagine. A wide network of such bicycle lanes does much to promote tourism in the Netherlands. Nor are they unknown in this country. This last winter, I had the opportunity to view one along Highway 23 between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Even at five degrees above zero on a Sunday morning in January, a fair number of bicyclists and joggers were to be seen on the hike-and-bike trail.

My only doubt about Babich's proposal for a bike lane to San Antonio is why San Antonio? I could see the value of a bicycle trip to New Braunfels or Bastrop, but what's there in San Antonio? Pawn shops? A maze of freeways?

Austin itself needs to be made safer for bicyclists. A few month ago I witnessed the driver of an Isuzu Trooper knock a helmeted bicyclist unconscious off his bicycle on Barton Springs Highway, which runs through Zilker Park. Last year I witnessed a similar incident along the 38th Street highway between Guadalupe and Lamar. It would thus appear that the City Council would be well-advised to institute an ordinance that paved shoulders be built along these inner city four-lane highways (and any major road, for that matter) to accommodate bicyclists.

What? No space for bicycle lanes? If they have space for bicycle lanes in Europe, I would expect there to be space for bicycle lanes in Texas. The problem bicyclists have faced in Austin, it seems, rests more in broadening minds rather than streets.

Fred Meredith, 2-19-99
Michael Bonds wrote:
>I wish to throw a bone out for gnawing. My general position on bike lanes
>is that they are a poor choice because of (a) stripes only (b) the
>consistent manner drivers turn right without so much as a glance for peds
>or bikers. However in recent conversation with a friend a certain brain
>cell from years ago woke up and... What do you pro and con bike lane folks
>think about using the ~$900k seen in an earlier post to replace the flat
>slick paint stripe in bike lanes with a 6-10" high by 4-6"inch curb. It
>obviously will keep all but the most determined motorist outta the land of
>cyclists. Downside, it will trap to some degree the roadside detritus of
>Joe Motorist.
Michael, that's a really, really BAD idea!
I can recite two problems right off the top. The curb, even if there are frequent cuts in it, becomes an obstacle to trip over (pedestrians and cyclists) and an engineering nightmare whenever it gets hit and broken or moved by trucks and other big vehicles. It also forces cyclists to stay within its boundaries. Offering a "separate but equal" place in the scheme of things has a familiar ring to it (as in anti-civil rights arguments favoring segregation).
We DO NOT want bike lanes separated from the rest of the roadway by any obstacles, trust me on this one. Once such things are in place, laws requiring cyclists to stay within them are not far behind. Remember, as the law stands, it is only those cyclists moving slower than the prevailing traffic who are required to ride as far to the right as practicable. If we are forced into barrier "protected" bike lanes we lose our right to the rest of the street/roadway.