Bike lanes improve safety

Posted: Friday, November 29, 2002

After reading T. Kelly Corrigan's letter to the Empire about cyclists riding across the Douglas Bridge, one thing that's clear is he needs to get out more. Bicycle lanes have been around since the early 1970S. Bike lanes increase safety for bikers, pedestrians and yes, even for Mr. Corrigan's car.

Pushing cyclists onto the sidewalks would make the bridge less safe, not more. Almost every time I ride over the bridge there are pedestrians, many of whom are children, walking 3-4 mph in one or both directions. Cyclists travel anywhere from 8 to 30 mph. When the two are forced to share the same pathway, we'll see a lot more accidents on the bridge than we do now.

The safety concerns don't stop there. Right now cyclists have separate bike lanes for each direction on the bridge, just like cars. Under the plan proposed by Mr. Corrigan, cyclists traveling both ways would pass head-on in the same lane. Think about what that would be like in your car, Mr. Corrigan. It's not a pretty picture.

And how would cyclists get onto the sidewalk/bike path? By crossing both lanes of traffic. Going to Douglas, I cross both lanes of 10th to enter the pedestrian crosswalk. Then by Breeze Inn I look for an opening and zoom across the road to re-gain the bike path. Going to town I re-enter the roadway smack dab in 10th and Egan, the busiest intersection in the borough. That's not safe for anyone.

The system that Mr. Corrigan advocates would also not make traffic flow faster. Morning rush-hour traffic backs up where cars merge from North Douglas Highway. Once you get past the merge, traffic flows fine till it stacks up behind the 10th and Egan intersection. The evening bottleneck is also the 10th and Egan intersection. So adding lanes won't solve the problem. Fix the intersections, not the bridge.

There are many benefits to the community from traveling by bicycle. When I ride my bike instead of driving, it decreases pollution, decreases our dependence on oil from foreigners, opens up the regular traffic lane and even gives Mr. Corrigan another open parking space downtown. And it's a great way to travel. Eliminating bike lanes won't speed up traffic, and will make the system less safe.

Robert Welton


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