I have been following the editorials, columns and letters to the editor for a while now regarding the bike lanes that the City of Red Deer has recently painted. There have been a few comments that sparked my interest, and I have noticed that many of the comments run on a few basic principles.
First, the new bike lanes create congestion, which thus creates an unsafe roadway for children, parents, bike riders, and drivers around the school zone of 48th Avenue.
This is a fallacy that deserves attention. The markings allow for a lane of parked vehicles, the bike lane, and a lane for traffic, while the same format appears going the opposite direction. Unless vehicles are double-parked to pick up children, there is not a safety concern; it is the same as before as there was only one lane of traffic going one direction with a parking lane anyways.
Furthermore, because many appear to be stating there are not enough cyclists to be on the lanes (often in the same article), there is no need to have the lanes in the first place.
Well, if we look at it in the same sense of safety, we will notice that the lanes provide a buffer zone for children crossing the street from oncoming traffic because, as many have stated, there are barely any cyclists using the lanes. This provides a better sense of safety, which I think many of us can agree on. Even if there are bicyclists using the lane, they follow the same rules of the road as a vehicle and hardly ever speed in a school zone.
Secondly, people state the long winters make the bike lanes useless in the winter. While that may be the case, it certainly should not stop us from progressing as a city and it certainly does not pose as a safety threat.
Apart from there being less bicycles during the winter months, not seeing the lanes is not a problem. How have cars driven on a four-lane road, without seeing the lines for all these years? Additionally, if these bike lanes are useless because of the winter, so would be outdoor pools, skate parks, the spray park, planting flowers, or anything else that is limited by snow.
The last point, as I am leaving out a few others, has to do with the funding of these bike lanes and paying taxes. This is more in regards to Ron Simonson’s letter (Thursday’s Advocate), but may apply to anyone who agrees with him.
Not all people who drive own a home or a garage; do they have less say about the road? Many people who ride their bike also have a vehicle and a house with a garage. Because they bought their bike from a dealer, who pays taxes on their business, who employs staff who may own a house with a garage, as well as pay taxes on the bike shop that repairs their bike, do they have more say than someone who did not buy the bike, which thus contribute less to taxes? Is Simonson making the point that people who cannot afford a vehicle should not have a say in how the city spends their money?
That being said, I too am concerned about 55th Street, but I am willing to let science take its route to see if that is a viable place to put a bike lane. It would cost (waste?) more money covering up the lines without doing the study than to just leave them in, then I would truly have something to complain about.
I believe the city should partner with an organization to subsidize the cost of a free seminar to educate citizens about how vehicles and bicycles can share the road. I believe this will aid in reducing the risk of accidents and reduce stress of both the driver and cyclist.