We hear it often – save the environment, ride a bike. As COVID continues to ravage American cities and group transport, bikes will become a more favorable option of travel. And that means safe routes to schools, bike paths and bike routes should be one of our priorities in making our cities and schools safer.
In big cities with subways and tons of bus routes, nobody wants to get on these forms of transportation and risk subjecting themselves to COVID. People are turning to electric bikes and scooters en mass. And that means that we will need to grow our bike routes and paths. Our cities are littered with Bike Route signage and that is quite misleading. Bike Routes mean that cities can post a green sign to show that the street is more favorable to bike riding. But that doesn’t mean that a Bike Path exists. And that is quite a big difference.
Misleading the Public
Unfortunately, we have been misleading the general public about where a safe place to ride our bikes is. We post Bike Route signs like the street is a great place to ride your bike. Every street is a place a cyclist can ride their bike. But that doesn’t make it safe to do so. Read this article on how difficult it was for a group of friends to follow the bike route.
Today, my daughter and I took a mental health bike ride around our neighborhood and we ran into these issues. Bike Routes were listed and we found ourselves sitting in the middle of turn lanes with vehicles approaching at 40 and 50 miles per hour. We would find ourselves cutting across streets to follow a Bike Route where no vehicle operator ever expected to see a bicyclist. This made for a high adrenaline ride, now imagine that a mother is trying to take her 6-year old or 7-year old for a ride through your city. Imagine that for a moment.
What is the point of a sign
What is the point of the sign? Shouldn’t a sign indicate something exists there? That there is something that way? Left turn ahead? McDonalds below this sign? Hospital here? Bike route? Where? So why does a bike route not have a bike path?
Widen the path
COVID has done a number on our way of life. As more and more people turn to cycling, cities will need to consider the width of the paths and the number of paths available. Social distancing should be maintained along our sidewalks and bike paths as many citizens will expect this. See our article about sidewalks.
You can’t have one without the other
All that aside, it’s time our cities prepare for the upcoming explosion of cyclist wheeling thru your city. And that means that a bike route should include a bike path. There should be good connectors. There should be bike signals. Nine years ago I ventured to Amsterdam and it was an eye-opening experience on how to design bike routes and paths. It’s time California cities do the same. Create a true bike route and path thru your city.