Wednesday, April 23, 2008

RE: Cycling, Day 2

Rather than just bitching, I’m going to deviate from normal blogger decorum and offer a solution. Yesterday, I indicated (here and here) that I thought it would be great if we as a nation, and specifically here in Springfield, invested in more bicycle trails that both kept cyclists away from vehicular traffic and offer routes that might be useful for practical trips (work, stores) and not just recreational paths to nowhere. I acknowledged that it would be hugely expensive and therefore no very likely to happen.
However, driving to work today I looked at the sidewalk and brilliantly realized we already have a kinda, sorta right-of-way system that could be expanded to include bicycles. I know, this too would be expensive (but not as much) and bring its own set of problems since you would then be mixing bicycles and pedestrians, but it might be the best compromise option for selected routes. I’m sure smarter people than me have thought this trough a little more thoroughly, but with gas at $3.69 a gallon and rising (not to mention global warming, etc.) it might be time to start taking these discussions a little more seriously.

2 comments:

rickmonday said...

Dave,

I think the idea is brilliant. (not necessarily the sidewalk idea but a separate, secure, bike lane) And before you discount it based on price, look and see how many billions of dollars the state spends each year on highway repair.

Chicago this summer is going to be a mess with all of the road construction. The kicker is that most of it is not for new expansion but to simply tear up the road and rebuild it. There are technologies out there that will allow the roads to last much much longer but thanks to the Unions and mob it seems that we are constantly digging up the same stretch of land.

About 15 years ago when they built the 355 extension around Schaumburg and Palatine, the construction company was filling the space under the road with rotting trees. They did this so that they could get the contract to fix the roads when the roads deteriorated. Thankfully some people went to jail for that little episode but that is standard operating procedure for road crews.

I suggest that even if we were to take 10-20% of the road budget and put it towards bike paths which are safe from traffic, many more people will bike. Like you mentioned not only will it help with our health, but also the energy issue.

Anonymous Communist said...

Dave, you're exactly right re: the bike paths not going anywhere practical.

They're also difficult to get to. Most people have to drive there to use them. And again, they go nowhere. I'm fortunate that I live within a five-minute bike ride of the Wabash Trail's western terminus. I've used it to easily get to the postal station in the Chatham Square (is it still called that?) strip. And to Famous Liquors, of course.

In a perfect world, there would be an interconnected network (Internet?) of bike lanes/trails that could function as a quasi-expressway system for bikes, completed with controlled-access points.

But, ya know... the powers that be have determined spending $20 million to spruce up one street is a better use of taxpayer money.