Home > Uncategorized > Am I An Ingrate For Wanting A Real Bike Lane?

Am I An Ingrate For Wanting A Real Bike Lane?

UPDATE 1:45 pm: After further reflection & discussion, I’d like to walk back 10% of the snarkyness expressed in this post. Indeed, the improvement made to E. 8th St. is cause to be pleased and is adequate. It was pointed out to me that the 1.5 ft gutter pan, although not for riding, does offer someone on a bike room to breathe and the range to express their mobility. I’ve emphasized my earlier appreciation below and mention again, thank you to the City for improving this stretch of 8th St.


Sometime this past week the City of Traverse City re-striped the 8th Street ‘experiment’; a calming of the section of 8th Street between Garfield Ave. and Munson Ave. You may recall that in 2009 the city commission requested that this section be re-striped from four lanes to two, a turning lane and bike lanes. That sort of happened…once it was reluctantly striped the bike lane was 2.5 feet wide and the middle turning lane was a massive 14 feet wide. It’s claimed that it was a mistake and that when the paint faded, it would be redone correctly.

Bike lane or not a bike lane?

It’s redone; it’s better. It’s now more comfortable riding in the bike lane. 2 extra feet adds a lot of security. Thank you very much.

However, and here is where I’m showing my ingrate tendencies, I think this minimal approach to bicycle infrastructure is unacceptable, unnecessary and overly cautious (concerning motorists).

AASHTO (American Association of State of Highway Transportation) guidelines for bike lanes in this situation, high vehicle counts and speeds above 25-mph (posted 35-mph), calls for a minimum 5 foot bike lane. Bike lanes are sometimes smaller, but only where space simply doesn’t allow it. As the guide writes, “On extremely constrained, low-speed roadways with curbs and no gutter, where the preferred bike lane width cannot be achieved despite narrowing all other travel lanes to their minimum widths, a 4-ft wide bike lane can be used.” (AASHTO 2010 Bike Guide).

This 8th Street cross-section is 46 feet wide with a gutter; there is room for improvement. In a more ideal world, the 12′ turning lane (shocking that it was originally 14′!) is narrowed to 11′ and we’d technically and honestly add another mile of bike lane to the city’s current total of 3 miles (downtown, Woodmere).

More importantly, city staff would demonstrate that they understand that people on bicycles are transportation, that they deserve respect and that bikes belong. I guess this ingrate will have to wait a few moreĀ  years for that opportunity since there are no bike lanes in the works for 2011.

  1. June Thaden
    October 29, 2010 at 11:24 am

    At least they did retain the turn lane throughout that part of 8th Street. I agree the bike lanes should have been made 5′ wide. Reflecting on years of working in bicycle advocacy I think that as long as the travel lanes are less than 11′ (encouraging slightly slower speeds by motorists), the turn lane could easily be 11′. Generally I see the repainting as a positive move. This should be continued on as much of 8th Street to Union St as possible — particularly from Woodmere to Boardman.

  2. November 3, 2010 at 12:45 am

    No you are not an ingrate for wanting a real bike lane. Real bike lanes are what turn those who don’t usually ride a bike, into those who might actually consider riding a bike.

    If there is no bike lane, I feel either hesitant like I am not sure if I am legally allowed to be there…OR, makes me feel as though I am a rebellious fugitive who has to aggressively claim some space for each fleeting moment.

    That cute white stamp of the cyclist on the side of the road….it says to me, “Welcome! You belong here. Come more often. I will protect you.

    Yes, the gutter does offer some breathing room (and honestly I do appreciate it), but sometimes that gutter is more dangerous than the breathing room it provides. Gutters collect rain, puddles, ice, slush, sticks, trash, and sometimes, large piles of leaves or snow. These things can cause a cyclist to have to swerve into the dangerous car lane.

    Am I an ingrate for not wanting to share the same lane with the gutters? Bicycle commuters risk their lives daily as they do their part to make the world a better place for everybody’s grandchildren, I think we could show them a little more respect than asking them to share space with the gutter.

    In my personal opinion, bike lanes are one of the simplest ways for a city to prove it’s dedication towards fostering community.

    That cute white stamp on the side of the road lets everyone know that the city is serious about treating the bicycle as a real, viable and respected mode of transportation, suitable for rebellious and novice bicyclers alike.

    Traverse City, you’ve got a lot of rad things going for ya…make it or break it, the choice is………………….ours?

  3. November 3, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Nellie, I added some formatting emphasis to your comment because it is so well said. Full support! Thank you.

    Also, MyWHaT is always looking for passionate, well spoken guest contributors…if you’re interested.

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