Yesterday I biked in Michigan Avenue’s new bike lanes, from Harriet Street to Creyts Road in Delta Township. No one yelled at me, spat on me, honked at me or hit me. It was wonderful.
With bike lanes, I feel everyone is safe. The sidewalks are left for pedestrians. Drivers have clearly marked lanes (through, right turn and left turn), with little chance of a biker getting in their way. What’s not to like?
Plenty, according to local folks on Facebook. “Having only one lane each direction on Michigan is idiotic,” said one person. But the same configuration has existed on Michigan from Waverly Road to the railroad tracks just west of the Sexton football field for years, seemingly without a problem.
Someone else wondered about how the number of bikers compares with the number of drivers on Michigan, figuring putting in the bike lanes can’t be cost effective. This is an apples-to-oranges comparison — how can you compare bikes to cars? And it seems to me the only cost of bike lanes is the paint for the pavement and the labor of the paint crew. Another person complained about the misuse of the bike lane on eastbound Saginaw, which I have often used to access the River Trail downtown, without incident. “Only a brave soul would ride down Michigan … even with bike lanes,” said someone else.
For the record, I guess I must be a brave soul because I’ve been riding my bike around town for the last 40 years, much of the time going to and from work. As each new bike lane appeared, my routes became not only greener but safer.
In our society roads are usually better kept than sidewalks. Bike lanes almost always mean I don’t have to contend with broken pavement, tree roots and intersections with no curb cuts. I don’t have to dodge trash cans, pedestrians and those signs that road construction workers often put right in the middle of the sidewalk. Finally, I can avoid antagonizing drivers, which often seems to happen no matter how much I try to hug the curb lane when I ride in the road.
Delta Township has been outstanding in the development of its parks, sidewalks, pathways and other amenities. Adding more bike lanes throughout the Lansing area, especially on our busiest streets, is a good step in going green — and staying safe.
Mary Jo White