In Los Angeles a new bike lane has been installed along 7th Street. The story in the LA Times states:
"In a city known for traffic gridlock, deliberately eliminating an entire lane for cars could be politically dubious."
My question is this: Do multiple traffic lanes actually move more traffic, or do they simply hold more cars when they become a parking lot during rush hour? Even 6 and 8 lane freeways grind to a standstill at certain times of the day all over the Los Angeles area.
My point is this; there is always a bottle neck somewhere and a journey on an 8 lane freeway has to end on a narrow city street somewhere along the line.
I remember in 1994 I had left the bike business and moved to Corona, near Riverside. I drove 25 miles to work each day on the 91 Freeway to the City of Orange. The 6 lane freeway was a parking lot from the start of the journey to the end. Stop and go all the way moving sometimes at a walking pace.
The 25 mile trip took between an hour and a half, to two hours, each way. I could have ridden a bike to work quicker, except that the freeway was the only direct route, to ride a bike I would have had to take a wide detour on minor roads which would have made my trip 40 or 50 miles.
One evening I drove home in a torrential rain storm. The rain was so heavy I could barely see the next car ahead of me. Everyone drove at a steady speed, and no one changed lanes. That night I got home in less than one hour.
This experience convinced me of something that I had suspected for a long time; that traffic gridlock is mostly caused by people constantly switching lanes and trying to travel at different speeds.
This particular evening we all drove home almost like a procession, traveling at a reasonable speed. The main thing was we kept moving; rather than the usual stop and go.
On a multi-lane street or freeway there is always one lane moving faster than the next. Usually, it seems, it is the one you are not in. This encourages drivers to switch lanes. If everyone stayed in the same lane and drove at a reasonable speed there would be less hold ups.
In the case of this new bike lane on 7th, is it really going to slow traffic? There is now only a single lane for cars so no one can switch lanes, drivers will be obliged to follow the car ahead of them at the same speed as everyone else.
The bike lane will encourage more people to ride bikes, which will cut down on the number of cars on the street. I maintain in time, bold moves like this will improve traffic flow rather than impede it. What do you think?