Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cycling Confusion - Daily Gleaner

Our attention today is on the fuss about bicycle lanes, parking in those lanes and other related matters. A week ago, Fredericton city traffic engineer Darren Charters announced the city will install another 23 kilometres of bicycle lanes this summer, and by October there will be 29 kilometres of bicycle routes.

The system is following a master plan for trails and bikeways recommended by a city-hired consultant. Charters said the rule citywide is to share the road with cyclists.

And that is how it should be.

Charters said the city was getting "great support from council, the public, and even the press on this." There appear, however, to be flaws in the system.

Mayor Brad Woodside voiced concern about parking on opposite sides of streets where there is a reserved bike lane, and Charters said there is confusion about the different types of bicycle lanes the city is installing.

There are actually three types of lanes. Some streets will be identified with signs as bicycle routes without markings on the pavement; others will be marked bicycle lanes with a white striped border that marks the width of the lane but parking may be permitted in those lanes; third is the reserved bicycle lanes where signs indicate no parking is permitted in those lanes.

It's no wonder bicyclists and motorists are confused.

Why is it necessary to have three types of lanes? Why is parking allowed within the lanes? Why is parking allowed across the street from lanes?

One letter writer to The Daily Gleaner said, "it is getting way too complicated to go for a bike ride" and another writer has major concerns that the bike lanes are too narrow, that they will give "some cyclists a false sense of security," and that "storm sewer grates and debris after storms usually share the same space as the cycle lanes."

The same letter writer says most Fredericton streets already have sidewalks on both sides, so he suggests in such cases that one side be designated for pedestrians and the other for cyclists and pedestrians.

Where that is possible, it may offer a sound solution.

We certainly support the bikers who have every right to cycle on the streets, and motorists need to be aware that bikers have those rights.

Motorists have had the roads largely to themselves for a long time. It might be difficult to adjust, but it is a present-day reality that is not going to disappear.

However, when the city makes driving a bicycle so complicated, it becomes a hazard.

We all know what happened to a cyclist from New York last September who was killed on Highway 7 near Petersville by a trucker. That man pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention. It is a tragic case which netted the trucker two months in jail.

We don't want anything like that to happen in Fredericton or anywhere else.

We need a clear definition of bicycle lanes without the confusion, without the hazards and without the risks they place on both cyclists and motorists.

It's time to share the road and respect each other's rights to be there.

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