Friday, June 08, 2007

It's sailing time again, yarrr

Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin' to plunder
I'm an almost-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late

The Saint Paul Sailing program kicked off on Tuesday night and caught me unawares. I'd signed up to work the June class way back in April and forgot all about it. I was on the bike and needed to get to the East Side of Saint Paul. Fortunately, I used to live over there. I took the 94 bus from downtown to downtown and then rode to the Vento Trail. I didn't realize that the Vento trail was closed for something called the Lower Phalen Creek Project. So I took a less convenient on-street route to Phalen.

After class I decided to try the fancy new Phalen Boulevard. This street was just being built when I lived on the East Side. It has both a bike lane and an off-street bike path. I chose the bike lane and found it to be a great street to ride. Until I got to 35E and both the bike lane and bike path end. Nice planning, St Paul. I rode Pennsylvania Ave west and took Rice south (both very bicycle unfriendly streets) until I could hook up with John Ireland and ultimately Summit Ave. I would have spent more time trying to figure out a better route, but I had forgotten my taillight at home and found the batteries in my front blinkie to be wanting. So I really wanted to cover most of my route before it got dark.

Rob has been pondering bike lanes for a while. As I commented on his blog, I like and use them when they're available. But my number 1 beef about bike lanes is that they end with no warning, and often leave a cyclist in a much worse spot for biking than they would have been had they not chosen that route. If Phalen Blvd didn't have a bike lane/path, I probably would have headed back downtown and found a cleaner route. Whoever is making the planning decisions on these things needs to take a wholistic look at the city map and the gaps. Take a look at this map of Minneapolis. The blue lines are marked bike lanes. Outside of downtown, lanes that actually connect are almost non-existant. It's sad, really. Traffic engineers, are you listening? If you're going to build it, build it right.

Date: June 6
Mileage: 18
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Premis
June mileage: 48
Year to date mileage: 1670


rigtenzin said...

Only in Minneapolis have I ridden bike lanes on the LEFT side of the street. Why did they do that? When those types of lanes end, they leave us in the left lane of cars and we know we're not supposed to be there. Or are we?

Well planned bike lanes are very useful. The shitty ones are dangerous and probably turn off novice cyclists.

Pete said...

My guess is that some traffic engineer decided that putting the bike lane on the left side would prevent riders from getting right hooked. But by putting them on the left side of one-way streets, now riders just get left hooked. Interesting idea in concept, but poorly executed.