Opinions are like assholes – everyone has one. When it comes to bicycle infrastructure, assholes seem to be the reigning force. I, of course have my opinions as well. However, a big deal for me when I discuss my ‘opinions’ is that I do the research first. I ride the current topic of infrastructure discussion instead of just ‘winging’ it. I’ll go to that area, ride around, sit and look at human interactions with that area, desire lines, parking, signage, lighting, speeding, speeding, and speeding. Once, I’ve finished my research, I’ll make my conclusions and give my ‘opinion.’ I’d rather give you m opinion based on actual experience than sitting behind a desk and thinking I know what I’m talking about b/c I live in the next neighborhood over and drive through it everyday.
Change is the number one constant in life. People HATE change. People get really sensitive when you come into their neighborhoods advocating for better streets; safer and slower streets. I’m car-free and so are many of my friends and more and more are choosing to take this way of life. I can’t live in all neighborhoods but I sure as hell bicycle through many of them.
I don’t think I need to remind anyone who reads this that we have an obesity issue here in our city; adults AND kids. When it comes to playing outside, its night and day difference when I was young. Its sad. I work with youth therefore, I’m attending Elementary Schools and Middle Schools regularly and there are days I’ll get home and just become a pile of sadness b/c of how overweight some third grader is and they are already getting their fair share of fellow student heckling.
Our streets in our neighborhoods need to be updated so families and kids can feel safe playing and WANT to be outside. Bicycle infrastructure helps.
If you all have been asleep with regards to what I’m passionate about, open your eyes and read this: I’m passionate about making our streets enjoyable, slower, and safer in order for more families and women to feel confident enough to make the choice to ride their bikes to the YMCA instead of driving (arbitrary destination I chose).
Engineers still design roads in the mindset of men, why – b/c most engineers ARE men. Another profession still heavily dominated by men. We need to alter that to where they are thinking: Will my grandmother feel safe riding this street to get to church? Can Molly take her two kids on this street to get to Magic Mountain? 8 to 80 – the age range that engineers need to have burned in their brains when redesigning streets.
So….. along with my bigger ’2 Wheels & Heels’ ladies ride, I’ve come up with another more intimate ride. Lots of new infrastructure is being built here in Columbus and a lot MORE will be popping up -very soon. I thought a good idea would be to take small and intimate groups of women to experience the new infrastructure around town. I take them there, we ride and then at the end we discuss. They discuss. They tell me how THEY feel – as mothers, as sisters, as grandmothers – as WOMEN. I actually write up their experience as detailed as I remember and submit them to our city engineers which they HIGHLY appreciate.
This recent ride was experiencing the newly built and very contested Tamarack Circle roundabout bike lanes. Residents are saying that congestion is happening b/c a travel lane has been removed in order to have a dedicated bike lane built.
I’m from this area, I was raised on the north side of town. When the new infrastructure was built, my mum drove me over here so that I could see it. Again, driving next to it and actually experiencing it – two different animals.
So, this past Tuesday, myself and four other women were able to make time and ride over to the area to get a feel of this new infrastructure. We parked at the YMCA and rode down the new lanes on Sandalwood and then took our time and rode the roundabout. The final result in our evening was overwhelmingly unanimous. The ladies were extremely pleased with the infrastructure. The bike lanes were a comfortable six feet in width. There is a buffer throughout the roundabout that separates the parked cars from the bicycle lane. That buffer is a comfortable six feet. This gives not only the person on a bike comfort that they won’t be door’d but it gives peace of mind to the driver who gets out of their car as they have ample room to get out and not immediately be in the bike lane and worry about any conflicts. The cars were courteous. They slowed and yielded to us when they needed to make any right turns.
I think the successor of the evening was the buffer. Normally, you see three feet buffers between parked car lanes, bike lanes, and / or travel lanes so have six feet of buffer was like riding on puffy clouds. Buffers give off that extra sense of safety that so many folks are looking for. Again, this isn’t just directed towards people on bikes, its directed towards the drivers exiting / entering their cars as well. The drivers who need to keep their door open to strap in their child to the backseat child seat. Even with three foot buffers (which is about the length of a car door) they don’t need to feel rushed in order to not impede a bike lane.
We all rode with leisure. We rode slow, with no feeling of having to ‘hurry up’ for the cars behind us. I rode with my hand in my back pocket. We took our time and laughed. When you create streets in which people riding bikes can ENJOY, that street then becomes a destination. And yes, the street will be the destination and not a ‘pass through.’ That’s what makes city streets come alive – when you make the streets themselves a destination place of their own.
Be safe and keep riding
The lovely ladies who joined me. Thank you
Shot of the six foot wide bike lane down Sandalwood. ROOMY
Clearly marked. Proper boundary width.
Entering Tamarack roundabout
You can see above the parking lane and the six foot wide buffer and the bike lane.
We all pulled over and discussed how we were feeling and now we’re hoppin’ back on our bikes.
A shot of the girls with a car next to them.
Six foot bike lane with the buffer to the right