Friday, May 15, 2009

Bike to Work Week - Day Five, Part 2

Where the Bike Lane Ends....

Having complained about the lack of bicycle parking in Spokane, I'd like to also mention the lack of connectivity in the Spokane Master Bike plan. There are some painted bike lanes scattered throughout the community, but for the most part these nice routes don't connect to a thoroughfare you feel safe riding on. An example is Southeast Boulevard, now closed for construction. The bike lane starts near our house and continues until just before the major intersection with 29th Avenue. Just when the street becomes busiest, and most dangerous, the scant protection afforded by the bike lane's white line disappears. This phenomenon is repeated as Southeast Boulevard narrows at the intersection with 25th Avenue, with Perry, and at 5th Avenue where it disappears for good, throwing the bicyclist to the mercy of  major city streets.

Near where Sally and I once lived in northeastern Wisconsin, there was an infamous highway, officially designated County Road Q. Unofficially the road was called the... the..., well, it was named for the predominant, European ethnic group within the city. It wasn't called the French Connection.... Anyway, County Road Q featured a four-lane, 55 mph, limited access overpass spanning the Fox River, which promptly ended in a 3-way stop at a single-lane cross street. The bridge was built as the initial segment of a highway bypass that remained unbuilt for 25 years.

I think of County Road Q every time I approach a Spokane street sign proclaiming, "Bike Lane Ends". I wonder if I'm supposed to turn around and go back the way I came, or get off my bike and into a proper vehicle. The current Spokane regional bike map employs 4 or 5 colors to designate preferred biking routes, diverting attention from the fact that even our best bike routes are but partial segments that end whenever the road narrows or a major automobile thoroughfare is reached. The designation of the busy, narrow streets where many bike lanes abruptly end "Shared Routes" would be funnier if it weren't so dangerous. Any bike route that ends at Division Street, Sprague Avenue, the railroad tracks or the interstate is not really a bike route at all. They are instead our versions of County Road Q. 

1 comment:

  1. Hollis, thanks for participating in Bike to Work Week & for testifying at City Council for the Master Bike Plan.

    The lack of connectivity you refer to above is BECAUSE we haven't had a plan in place being connected over time. The Bicycle Advisory Board, city staff, and over a thousand citizens who attended workshops and submitted comments have fed into the creation of the plan presented May 18.

    The vote at City Council on 6/8/09 is critical for our community cycling infrastructure.

    Barb Chamberlain
    Member, City of Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board