A plan to add bike lanes to streets in San Diego has been shot down by city planners. The reason, the move would mean a loss of 137 parking spaces, and of course this is seen as a detriment to local businesses.
It is an old, old story that is played out in cities all over the US and I am sure, in many other countries too. To ignore the problem is short sighted, because every bicycle on the street means one less car, less congestion and one more parking space available.
I agree that parked cars and bicycle lanes don’t mix, like some in San Francisco, shown in the above picture. This is a death trap, a car door carelessly opened in front of a cyclist, knocks the unfortunate bike rider right under the wheels of a passing vehicle. It happens all the time.
The picture is from an article on the SF.StreetsBlog, where the writer points out that with a bike lane positioned this way, a cyclist has the choice of riding in this lane at the risk of getting doored, or ride out in the main traffic lane and incur some serious road rage, because nothing pisses off a motorist more than seeing a cyclist in “His” lane, when there is a bike lane right next to it.
Even if there is enough room for a four foot door zone between the parked cars and the bike lane, there is still a danger from cars entering or exiting parking spaces. If you place the parked cars next to the motor traffic lane and put the bike lane on the inside next to the side walk, this does not eliminate the danger of car passengers opening doors as cyclists pass. And an even bigger danger presents itself at every intersection as cyclists immerge blindly from behind a row of parked cars.
A sensible solution in this case would be a shared lane (Sharrow.) next to the parked cars. In the above picture I see at least four, maybe five lanes of traffic going in one direction. Would it be a huge inconvenience if one of those lanes were shared with cyclists? If a motorist doesn’t want to share, all he has to do is move over to one of the other lanes.
Bike lanes are a good idea on roads leading into a city center, where automobile speeds are high, and there are no parked cars.
But once you get into a business district where there are parked cars, speed limits need to be lowered and enforced, and cyclists’ sharing the lane is, in my opinion, safer.
In San Diego, city planners speak of adding traffic calming devices instead of bike lane; why not shared lanes.
Encourage more people to ride bikes; add a number of bike riders to the mix with the appropriate signage so it is clear to everyone that cyclists are supposed to be there.
Seasoned cyclists are often quick to point out that they are entitled to share any lane. That may be true, but entitlement doesn’t help much if the person you are sharing with is ignorant of that fact. It doesn’t hurt to have a few road markings and signs to remind the uneducated.
Education is key, make people realize that every person riding a bike to work is one less car on the road. This means less congestion; everyone can drive slower, and still get where they are going on time. That is a benefit to all road users, not just bike riders.