Linwood Bike Lanes in Place
by Buck Quigley - posted 1:21 pm, October 2, 2012
This morning I rode up Linwood Avenue from West Delavan to North Street. I took this snapshot as I turned south onto Linwood. This first block had been resurfaced last year, so the old lane markings are still visible. The rest of the way, the markings are clearer. If you’re heading downtown into traffic, as I was, the cross-streets feature temporary stop signs. Obey them. It’s difficult to tell who has the green light as you approach. The bike lane traffic lights are not operational yet, but they should make a difference for southbound riders once they’re working. Also planned are bicycle icon markers in both lanes. It will be good to get those down soon, so drivers can learn the new lay of the land.
The good news is that the single lane of automobile traffic seemed to be going at a slower clip than the former two-lanes of one way traffic. Granted, it was raining, and it wasn’t rush hour. We’ll see what it’s like to ride with traffic during rush hour on the way home.
This compromise plan is a disappointment to some bicyclists who were pulling for the “floating” parking lane proposal, which would have created a barrier of parked cars between riders and traffic. As cool an idea as that is, it’s an inconvenient truth that there really are a lot of driveways on Linwood. Residents were concerned about the visibility of cyclists, and they have a point.
I saw four other cyclists using the new lanes in the rain this morning, just during the 5-10 minutes I was on the route—which seems encouraging. Looking ahead to the winter weather, I can see the potential for problems when the single traffic lane is plowed. Where else will the snow go but into the bike lanes? And, where then will the bikers go but into the traffic lane? Nothing’s perfect, and we’ll have to see how that shakes out.
Overall, it’s an improvement over the old experience of riding south on Linwood into two lanes of oncoming traffic—which seemed a bit crazy and illegal. I avoided that as an option until now. The new Linwood lanes feel safer than riding south on Main or Delaware. Hopefully, drivers and cyclists will quickly get used to the new layout and agree to co-exist.