Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bike lanes in action

Posted on Thu, Sep 30, 2010 at 9:53 AM

So, I just wrote a story for this week's paper about the new bike lanes and "sharrows" being painted on downtown streets. In the story, a number of the city's best bike minds — people who spend a lot of time on the streets and have long been in the trenches, trying to build Spokane's bike infrastructure — question the way the city is applying these lanes and sharrows, saying that in some cases they're confusing and even unsafe. 

Bike blogger John Speare agreed with my own informal assessment that as cool as they look, bike lanes might not have been the best solution for the stretch of Riverside Avenue where The Inlander's office is located, for instance. True, they exceed regulation width. But on a street with a lot of parking turn-over, the lanes could put cyclists right in the dreaded "door zone." A better idea might have been to paint sharrows here, alerting motorists that this is a common bike route without encouraging cyclists to drive so close to the parked cars.

We published the story late yesterday. 

First thing this morning, a young woman burst into our office asking to use the phone. She had just been riding in the bike lane on Riverside Avenue when an older woman stepped into the lane from behind a parked car. The two collided, the older woman was injured, an ambulance and fire truck were summoned. 

We don't know anything more than that, but it begs some questions: 

  • Should there be bike lanes here? Would a sharrow have been better? Or nothing at all?
  • Assuming the above is true (we can't confirm it), who is at fault? And what can be done to prevent such accidents in the future?

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