Author of Blog: Daniel Day
New Post once a month.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Useless Bike Lanes

I never understood why we have bike lanes where we do.  When I see it, I wonder why do we need a bicycle lane there, after all, there's no traffic, there's no reason to have it here, but there it is.  I'm talking about the bicycle lanes that are down low traffic streets such as South Main Ave, and Pine St to name a few. 

I simply find it confusing because the traffic volume where the bicycle lane is make having a lane there not necessary.  And because there's no need for a bicycle lane, the people who live on these streets seem that it's okay to park in the bike lane. 


First up, South Main Ave from Caesar Chavez (formally Durango) to South Alamo. (Image 2.1)  Sit on a street corner such as Gunther or Arsenal, and count the number of cars going by per minute.  1 or 2 but you'll have to wait on average 5 minutes or so to see a car coming by.  The residence south of HEB and soon to be the future site of the HEB Grocery Store downtown simply don't care about the bicycle lane.  After all, as you pass by HEB corporate HQ, you'll see cones in the bike lane.(Image 2.2)  South of Arsenal, you'll see classic cars parked there, and I've always wonder, why we have these useless bike lanes.  A block away at S Flores St, you'll definitely see the need to put one in.(Image 2.3)
Second up, is Pine St on the city's Eastside.  The bicycle lanes goes from E Commerce St, which lacks a bicycle lane and needs a bicycle Lane to Steves Ave which could also use a bicycle lane/parking lane.  Again the question is asked, why is a bicycle lane even here when the traffic isn't.  As you can see, people who live along Pine clearly find it not to be a problem of conscious to park where there should be a bicycle. (Image 2.4)

The same with Elmendorf on the West side and other streets. When Google Maps went by, they took pictures of people putting out there garbage can in the bike lane not to be disrespectful, but to make sure it gets picked up and to keep the sidewalk clear.  (Image 2.5, 2.6)

If traffic flow is sufficient enough to require a bicycle lane, then maybe the city better slow down the traffic to 25 mph and add in infrastructure to physically slow down traffic like this speed hump with an island like this one in Austin.  (Image 2.7)

I've always wonder why we've put bicycle lanes down those type of streets and not on the other streets on where they need them like E Commerce, Hackberry, (Image 2.8) Steves Ave, S Flores, Caesar Chavez, and the number of other streets that force bicycles to go down the same lane as high speed heavy traffic uses.  It simply boggles the mind where the city of San Antonio puts them down. For me, there shouldn't be a bicycle lane here in the first place, there should be only a regular street and if the traffic is bad enough, speed humps should be installed.  After all, these streets are where there's residential housing with yards full of dogs, kids, barbeques and so on.  This is a great example on why we see signs all around that say "Keep San Antonio Lame" because our city leaders feel that it's okay to waste perfectly good tax payer money and put down bicycling infrastructure where it is simply not needed. 

Jeremy  from Critical Transit recently wrote about a blog about this called Transit Tip 14: Beware of Useless Bike Lanes and some of my advocate friends as well as I am guilty of this. 

"There’s a tendency among bike advocates to champion the delineation of a “bike space” even without any actual space being created. You know, “if there’s room for a bike lane” without changing anything else on the street."

Pine St from E Commerce to Westfall Ave, Pine St should have a series of Speed Humps with 25 MPH Signs.  As a matter of fact, our neighborhoods shouldn't be allowed to have vehicle speeds faster than 25 MPH.  If 20 MPH is good enough for a school zone, then it is good all the time where we raise our kids.  It should have neckdowns  (Video 2.1) at many of the intersections.  The street should look more like Grayson in front of the Pearl (Image 2.9) than a big and wide boulevard with a round about at the intersection of Porter, Aransas and Pine.  The Goal should be to slow down traffic, not create useless bike lanes.

The same should be done to S Main when HEB puts in its Grocery Store and Elmendorf on the Westside. 

Image 2.1: S Main Ave viewing North
Image 2.2: A Cone in the bike lane courtesy of HEB Security on S Main Ave viewing North.
Image 2.3: A Google Street view of S Flores St one block over from S Main viewing North.
Image 2.4: N Pine St viewing South.
Image 2.5: Truck parked in the bike lane on Elmendorf viewing South.
Image 2.6: N Elmendorf viewing south.
Image 2.7: A picture of a speed hump in Austin, Texas on an unidentified st. 
Image 2.8: A picture of the route 28 via bus on N Hackberry with two cyclist in the right lane viewing north.
Image 2.9: A Google Street View of Grayson St viewing East to illustrate the Neckdowns.

S.Flores St. Update:

From my friend George Longoria:  But to your point, Daniel, I agree that per my previous post on the subject, at this stage in the game, I’m afraid it’s all but a done deal. The proposed reroute moves the bike lanes over to Mission Road via Sayers and at that point, why even do that when you already have the Mission Trail? The end result will be another hodge-podge network of bike lanes that don’t efficiently go anywhere nor create any added value (read: impractical and underutilized like the Theo/Malone lanes and will eventually suffer the same fate).

Just remember, those who don't attend the meeting tonight and are able to are Keeping San Antonio Lame. 

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