What does this road need? Here’s some context:
It’s in a Mayberry-like hamlet about the size of my neighborhood, with less population density, surrounded by empty rural land and lakes. We’ve really hit bottom when a place like this needs bike lanes to be “bike friendly.”
Mighk already wrote a post about this. I’m bringing it up again because it’s become an issue. It turns out that some homeowners want the money used for resurfacing the roads. And if you’ve ridden out there, you know why! But some bike lane advocates in Orlando are trying to encourage cyclists (who don’t live in Howey) to fight against them.
I’ve ridden on that road as recently as a few months ago. It’s as quiet as it looks in the photo. It’s a narrow road, so adding bike lanes will require adding pavement and a foundation for that pavement… unless they’re defining bike lanes as substandard tack-on shoulders, then they’ll have no foundation and a crappy, uneven surface. Either way, it turns grass into asphalt. It’s far more expensive than simply resurfacing the road. It’s not something that should be undertaken without a demonstrated need—meaning a high volume of automobile traffic, which would make bicycling unpleasant.
Where they are clearly not needed, bike lanes are a waste of tax money that could be used for something that benefits everyone in the community. Or at least something that actually benefits cyclists. How could that not be the logical choice, given that bike lanes won’t offer the slightest improvement to cyclists? Which would you prefer as a cyclist? 2 miles of bike lane on a road with no traffic or a lot more miles of smooth pavement?
Worse than wasteful, it sends a terrible message about cycling. If cyclists are perceived as needing bike lanes on a road like that, where can they ride without special facilities?
It’s a sorry state of affairs that “bike advocacy” has come to fighting for symbolic bikes lanes on quiet, low-traffic streets in towns that are already perfect for cycling. It’s especially disheartening when it’s pushed by people who have had ample access to good discussion about quality facilities and holistic advocacy.
Bike lanes are the most misused tool in the planner’s tool box. It’s time to take a hard look at that and how it affects the overall health and sustainability of a bike culture.