Guest View: I Love Bike Lanes

Brent “Butch” Johnson is a former Lincolnite now living in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Here’s his take on bike lanes in his new home.

We made another trip to the Edina YMCA with our road bikes pulling the burleys this time.  The 14 or so mile round trip was a lot easier and quite a bit faster than our previous trip.  The route was very similar to our last trip too.  Portland Ave. has a bike lane that pretty much goes all the way to 76th street and then it’s a short jaunt on a bike lane/route all the way to the Y.
The Edina Y has a vortex pool which makes it a destination point for the family.  They also have an in ground paved skate park that looks pretty rad.  I’m a little scared of it actually.  I noticed when we got there that there was a big chalk board with the question at the top asking “What would it take to get you to walk or ride to the Y?”  There were a lot of responses to that question.  I felt accomplished in not having an excuse.
Keller Slamming Pre-Ride Pancakes


Orange Crush

In the past I’ve had discussion with people on the value of bicycle lanes and on street routes that include signage for bicyclists.  A few seasoned cyclists felt that there really was no need for them to have bike lanes in the street or signage in place.  They would ride regardless and have for many years.  It seemed that they weren’t really proponents of the implementation of signage and painting projects.  New cyclists seem to feel more comfortable riding in the street or in routes that are signed out as a cycling route.  In terms of cycling percentages, it’s the “1% that will ride regardless” needs versus the needs of the “99% that are less willing to ride without”.

After moving to a city that has bike lanes on many major streets, I think that the major benefit is not only for introductory commuter cyclists but also to motorists.  As a motorist I’ve felt more aware that there is a greater chance that I will encounter a cyclists on the route.  With the impaired vision that driving in a glassed box derives, I’ve found that the paint and signage reminds me to really look in blind spots and double check for cyclists before I make turns and as I drive I’m checking more often.  The signage and paint essentially put me into hyper awareness for cyclist.  As a cyclist, it is one of my worst fears that I will hurt another cyclist while driving.

Katie with River
Post Swim Discussion

As a rider that would ride anywhere regardless of the signage or route (I’m part of the 1%), I most frequently try to find routes now that are already established.  My experience driving has lead me to think that others motorists are aware of cyclists and take extra precaution when they are known to be in a roadway that has signed routes or lanes.  Of course, this may be leading to my eventual demise thinking that people are aware and paying attention, but I feel that I ride with a fair amount of defensiveness and safely try to get from place to place.  No one wins a in a contest against a 2 ton vehicle when their total weight with a bike under them is less than 200 lbs.

I post this with the thought that my wife (part of the 99%) and I are on the opposite sides of the spectrum of comfort in traffic, but we continue to pull our whole family, sans dogs, to places that put us in the traffic mix.  The combination of routes and signage make us both feel comfortable and feel that we have a place in the transportation mix to safely (of course there is always a risk) getting from A to B with our bicycles.