Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No room for error

My neighborhood has bicycle lanes along a popular street called Riverside Road. Riverside runs on both on the East and on the West side of the highway GA-400. In this post, I am referring to Riverside east of GA-400. I ride this road on many days. Well, at least parts of it, since my wife found a shortcut for me. Riverside road has bicycle lanes on both sides of the street. Don't get me wrong - many parts of the bike lane on Riverside are very good. But there are some sketchy sections. This post is about just that.

The problem I find with the bike lanes on Riverside is to do with their width. It is not consistent. For example, see the picture below; where it is wide enough to comfortably accommodate myself and Brahma, while 'keeping' the automobiles at a 'safer distance' from us.

Now, look at the picture below. See how narrow the cycle lane is?

Here is another picture that shows how the bicycle lane actually narrows. No - it is not visual distortion!

Usually, when the traffic is heavy and it is unsafe to bother with this 'bicycle lane', I jump on the gravel trail adjacent to the road, when I don't feel like dealing with this stuff. One other option is to get out of the bicycle lane and ride on the road. You will have to take the lane and while this is a 35 MPH road, people drive 50+ here. I have seen many do that. To make matters worse, many of the 'Armstrong Wanna Be' cyclists that ride here, ride in the gutter. They don't seem to care as long as they reach that 18 MPH average speed, even if they are likely to get harmed by riding in the gutter. So, the motoring populous here assumes that you will drive your cycle in the cycle lane, even if riding in the cycle lane is unsafe. Not I! I don't do it.

THERE SIMPLY IS NO ROOM FOR ERROR HERE. NEITHER THE CYCLIST NOR THE MOTORIST CAN AFFORD TO MAKE A MISTAKE. Well, I suppose if the cyclist gets hit by the motorist, I am sure the cyclist will sustain lot more damages than the automobile and its occupants. But, the bottom line is: SUCH ERRONEOUSLY DESIGNED BIKE LANES NEED TO CORRECTED.

CITY OF ROSWELL - CAN YOU PLEASE HELP? Many a future accident can be avoided.

Although not mandatory, just to stay away from the traffic (which is a non-stop phenomenon around here), I ride in the bicycle lane, except when it does not make any sense to do so. In the next two pictures, I have one example of an unsafe lane condition - gravel in the bike lane and mind you this is a good long downhill, off Old Alabama Road, headed towards Riverside Road. Just before getting to this section of the road, I get out of the bike lane and simply take the right lane for a while and then merge onto the left lane, before eventually turning left at the light at Riverside. I am a well-trained, confident cyclist, who knows how to avoid these sorts of things. But, even I don't take stock in uncertain things, especially when they can be avoided.

Close-up of the gravel in the bicycle lane on South Bound Old Alabama Road. I am considering taking a broom and cleaning-up this mess myself, as I am definitely exposing myself to this rubble. Hopefully, the City of Roswell can do something to remedy this too.
Again, the bottom line is:
Properly designed and well maintained bicycle lanes can be quite effective and may encourage bicycle as a mode of transportation and not just as recreation. However, a badly designed bicycle lane can boost false confidence and lead to fatal accidents.

I am happy to volunteer to clean, re-stripe these lanes or help in anyway I can. All you gotta do is ask for help.

Equally important is education. I am happy to contribute my time in educating local cyclists as well.

Any takers? City of Roswell?

Peace :)

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