Friday, February 12, 2010

Of Snow and Bike Lanes . . . Can't We Just All Get Along?

Every city loves a headline grabbing lane dispute. Flagstaff's latest lane dispute generated a lot of on-line comments, most of which seem to hold a grain of truth (except for those who opined that bicyclists have no business on the road). This one involved a city bus, a video camera and bike lanes particially covered in snow.

I'll be honest, one reason I don't bike as much during snow season is that bike lanes are often covered in snow and this year we have had a lot of snow. So much snow that that regular traffic lanes have been significantly narrowed for days. Along many roads little space is available on the shoulder to hold plowed snow so it gets piled in the bike lane. Not fun for bike commuters but I don't know what the answer is. Most cities are cutting budgets, laying off staff (aka your fellow taxpayers) and don't have extra funds for haul snow off bike lanes. Really, folks, snow plowing is expensive and when lots of snow is coming down in a short period of time finding a place put it is very challenging.

Anyway, I'll leave further comments to you the reader.


robison52 said...

Snow? What's this thing called "Snow?!?" Considering your weather conditions, I have no excuse to consider bike commuting to work, except I work 12-hours and have little time to train with running.

Emma J said...

Is this an argument for bike paths that are separate from the road? Though that would be something extra to plow. I wonder if there's a way to make keeping bike lanes open a good deal financially to city governments?

bikeolounger said...

Yet another reason I dislike painted-on bike lanes: they collect the detritus from regular travel lanes. "Shunting" the bike riders off to those lanes endangers us--we have to deal with the trash, the loose sand, the piles of snow, etc. to be "out of the way" of faster traffic.

As my friend Kirk (see link to "Pedalaround" in Karen's blog list) reminds us, "Every lane is a bike lane!"

Emma J said...

Portlandize just wrote a great answer: "Monetary Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure"

She Rides a Bike said...

I prefer biking on segregated bike paths and in the street. I don't trust that enough drivers understand what bike lanes are. I'd prefer to bike in a community such as Portland where car drivers expect to share the road with bicyclists and behave accordingly. Flagstaff is not there yet by any stretch.

Second point my post is that infrastrucure maintenance is very expensive and the public either is willing to share collective responsibility in maintaining it. Mostly, I hear them complain without consideration that "there ain't no money". Washington DC has already depleted their snow removal budget. Arizonans are obsessed with the notion that they are taxed to death. I know that I am taxed less than I was where we lived before and I get LESS. For those whiners who want their money returned to them so they can spend it as they see fit, I wonder how they enjoy removing snow from their street by themselves or paying out of pocket for all the public services their taxes don't begin to cover.

SushiK said...

This probably won't suprise most folks, but Copenhagen has a solution to this problem. It involves investing in expensive heavy machinery, but the city prides itself on supporting bicycle transportation and sees this investment as a worthy use of taxpayers' funds.