Friday, June 19, 2015

Unfinished business

I mentioned a few weeks ago that town of Bedford, MA planed on adding multiple bike lanes in its area. Earlier this week I was really happy to notice that this process has already begun. Newly renovated section of Route 62 received bike lanes on both sides. Placing bike lanes on this busy road is definitely a good idea. Unfortunately, its execution doesn't look exciting at all.
Route 62 is wide enough in places to allow for wide bike lanes on both sides. But then, there are sections where the bike lane would have to be so narrow that you couldn't possibly fit a bike on it. Obviously, we would expect the traffic lanes to be adjusted or the road widened to make space for regular-width bike lanes. But it didn't happen. Instead, what we are getting is a very fragmented network of lanes, in short sections only.
No bike lane here since the shoulder is too narrow and can't be converted into a proper bike lane easily.
But the road gets wider several hundred feet later and we get a "protected" bike lane here.
Unfortunately, it continues for only 300ft until the road gets narrower again and we lose the "protected" lane. New lane markings are not complete yet but you can see where the shoulder will be, marked by this preliminary line.
The construction is not over yet so I still hope that the remaining part of the road is going to be rebuilt to maintain continuity of the bicycle lane network. Otherwise, I wonder what is the point in painting these bike lanes? If the town is not intending to do this right, then instead of pretending that these short fragments are real bike lanes, it would be better to just leave them unmarked, as road shoulders only. Cyclists could still use them as bike lanes if they wanted to and the town could save some money on paint and labor. But then they couldn't tell everyone how vast network of bicycle lanes they have in their area, I suppose.
In the opposite direction, there is no bike lane despite plenty of space on this side of the intersection.
But then, the lane shows up on the other side of the intersection...
...only to disappear at the next one.
This is what I find particularly annoying about modern infrastructure in many American cities. There is no vision. New bike lanes look like an afterthought, like unfinished business. Almost like city planners didn't really want them, but were required to add a number of new bike lane miles a year. So they did. In few hundred-feet-long fragments, not connected with each other at all. When a new road is built, no one suggests that only short sections of it should be paved, with others left undeveloped, so why is this approach acceptable with bike infrastructure?

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