Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bike lanes and the fury that ensues...

The Bellingham Herald once again did a pathetic job of reporting on a very hot topic. The comment section of this article is worth checking out if one has any interest in the topic, or to see some passionate views of Bellingham citizens. Monday night the Bellingham City Council voted 5 - 2 to remove parking on the west side of Cornwall Avenue from Ohio Street to West Illinois Street. The Avenue is currently under construction and the instillation of a bike lane consisting solely of re stripping, not a major nor costly task. Currently the road is particularly wide, providing parking on each side of the road. The issue here is not the use of public funding for bike lanes it is parking. Parking on a transportation corridor. As seen in the comment section this has hit a chord with a large group of people.

The parking on Cornwall is not primary parking for the downtown. People are not going to park by BHS to walk downtown. The parking that is lost are for residential homes. There are plenty of feeder streets in this neighborhood in which cars can park for the houses and Cornwall can be better utilized as a transportation corridor for which it was intended. The creation of a bike lane on this street is not threatening drivers. It is not taking away rights of drivers, it is simply making a physical space for bikes to utilize.

I completely support the installation of the Bike Lanes. It is a proper use of available public resources for the greatest good.Yes, there are other streets that need Bike capacity, but that is no reason not to install lanes on Cornwall. Biking is a legitimate for of transportation for many people. Biking is not an option for everyone but for those who it is a means of transportation, there needs to be infrastructure to support it. With the infrastructure to support alternative modes of transportation, it makes it more accessible to others and safer to the ones who already participate. Not to get to cliche but "If you build it, they will come."

There are some great bike lanes around Bellingham like on Bakerview between Fred Meyer to just east of the Guide. These are areas that are dense with business in which people often frequent or work and are dangerous for bike transportation. There are some serious areas where pedestrian access needs to be addressed such as Guide Meridian area and the Lakeway are. Need I mention Holly Street! These areas must be addressed in cars and pedestrians plan on sharing the roads.

As for those who complain about cyclists have a great point. If cycling is going be a formal part of our transportation system, then we need to have higher standards for cyclists behavior and increase enforcement of the laws. Education and awareness is the key factor here. Drivers need to start seeing and recognizing bikes. They are there and they are going to be a means of transportation for many people. Bikers need to be respectful of traffic laws and give as mush space to a car that one would want on a bike. The last important factor in this hopper is infrastructure. They needs to be a stronger presence of accommodation of bikes in our transportation system. Bike lanes, street sweeping, signs, sensors in the road that feel bikes, and community education.

A more functional transportation marketplace increases choices, reduces costs and increases freedoms. This cannot be argued. I applaud the leadership the City Council showed Monday night.

To be continued....

"Red Square Scare"

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