Cities do not build active transportation corridors for cyclists, they build them for people. When you take the time to actually spend time on the off-road network of trails and dedicated multi-use trails you will observe that the majority of users are pedestrians; people jogging, walking and individuals pushing strollers, exercising dogs, using accessibility devices like wheelchairs, walkers and canes and overall, people seeking to maintain and improve their health. The investment in these spaces is not typically property tax supported, but Gas Tax supported. If you want to take a “pot-shot” at cyclists you could say they don’t pay into the Gas tax, but the evidence is clear; the majority of cyclists are also vehicle owners/users.
When we look at on-road cycling infrastructure here are a few facts for consideration:
- Painting a bike lane on a road achieves some important and valuable things including:
- Traffic “calming” by narrowing the travel lane for cars.
- Reminding all road users how to share the road.
- Buffering traffic from pedestrians on the sidewalk. This dramatically improves the pedestrian experience especially on roads that have no boulevard.
- Paint is cheap. The City’s budget for road painting is driven primarily by the increase in the overall road network then by painting a few sections with a “bike lane”.
- Most cycling advocates will tell you that painting a white line is not considered cycling infrastructure. In many cases, especially on rural roads, the white line is designating the road edge as opposed to creating a “bike lane”.
As someone who had been involved in two motor vehicles collisions, I know that I am only a temporarily able bodied person (TAP), all of us are TAPs. For many, the Active Transportation corridors provide people with independence to get from one place to another because they are not car owners or drivers. Imagine telling people 100 years ago that we were going to invest millions to build dead end roads that serve ten homes; they would think we were wasting their property tax dollars for certain.
There are many, many times I see and cycle on roads where there is not a single car in sight, but you know what? The city built those roads. Why? Because it was the right thing to do!