|A recent incident in Red Wing, MN destroys a historic building. |
Here where I live there was almost zero dedicated bicycle infrastructure for cycling commuters and utilitarian purposes in the decades before 2010. Now granted- we have a 100+ miles of recreational trails. Woo Hoo! and all that. But recreational trails for cycling are not the same as dedicated infrastructure which carries cyclists - and let's not forget about pedestrians- to destinations like schools, workplaces, and retail spaces. Here we've had nothing of that sort until very recently.
Some would argue here that we've had "bike lanes" available for quite some time. Uh huh.......did you say "bike lanes"? What you really mean is that we have painted lines on a road that magically will protect me from vehicular traffic, right? Sorry, but I don't believe in your painted line magic.
I've had incidents over the time I've commuted by bicycle in nearly 20 years. I've seen cars nearly crash onto bridge lanes dedicated to cyclists/pedestrians. I've had cars attempt to run me down as I crossed the street in Waterloo as a pedestrian- twice. Once as I had my elementary age children by the hands. I've been struck by a drunk driver while standing alongside a gravel road and sent to the hospital. You might understand then why I am reticent to believe that a painted line and a series of cute representations of bicycles painted on pavement would prevent me from being struck by motor vehicles.
A recent building's destruction in Red Wing, Minnesota is just another example of how reckless motor vehicle operators just do not care when it comes to the safety of others. Let's imagine Red Wing had painted bike lanes here. (They may very well have- I do not know) Say a cyclist was coming home from an evening out and this red SUV had come screaming through Red Wing at a high rate of speed and..... Well, you see how that may have come out, yes?
Would a protected bike lane have saved anyone here? Hmm...... Don't know, but the person would have had a chance versus what was there, which was pretty much nothing. So, forgive me if I would rather distance myself from painted bicycle lines in Waterloo and Cedar Falls. I don't trust a car, truck, or motorcycle operator and making my chances higher for survival means staying off streets without any protection - physical protection - from motorists. I take ways which cars are less likely to take, or cannot take. Sidewalks? Better to have a curb there than nothing. But as witnessed in Red Wing and in other places, even the fact that motorists need to stay in their lane is not always observed.
Stay safe. Be observant. Always assess your situation. Don't believe in painted lines. That's just pure foolishness.