Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Useless Bike Lane?

I haven't had much of a chance to ride around my neighborhood, but today I finally had a chance to meander through suburbia, and much to my surprise I found a bike lane on Dittmar Rd. I was excited because I thought it would a less traveled way to get to work, but found myself at 1st street with absolutely no safe way to ride either way. No bike lane, not even a sidewalk. Its the same situation on the other end as well when it crosses Manchaca Rd. Google Maps showed a supposedly shorter way to to my other job, but Ditmar becomes a curvy road with no shoulder. No way am I riding on that street.

It's frustrating because it seems the City of Austin just plunks down bike lanes wherever there is enough room, without considering that a bike lane through a suburban neighborhood that suddenly ends at two of the busiest streets in the area with no provision for cycling is pretty much useless. Manchaca isn't a hopeless case, the wide bus lane makes a provisional bike lane in a pinch, but on the other end its difficult to improvise. I was tired so I didn't go straight on to the South Congress intersection and see if it was better, but the road still looked pretty narrow.

The reality on the ground is so different than what is shown on maps, that I never ride anywhere I have to be without doing a test run first. There is just too much uncertainty with the infrastructure here, and many times have I ended up not being able to get somewhere that I wanted because a bike lane suddenly ended, or a sidewalk suddenly ended. Bike lanes need to go where people want to go, not where the city can plunk them down so they can get some glorified friendly bike city award. Everyone knows that is a joke. I want to get from A to B, and would like a bike network that reflects it.

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