Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Scene In Which I Realize The New Bike Lanes Suck

So as anyone who lives in Indianapolis knows, we are not exaaaaaaaactly the most pedestrian-friendly, bike-friendly, public transport-friendly, city on the planet.

I'm not saying this to bash city officials (believe me, I've got enough there for a whole seperate post, and you'll be getting one pretty soon if the a-holes who spray-painted my lawn blue the other day to mark my water meter and hacked half my bushes apart in the process return and think they're EVEN going to dig up my landscaping- that, or, I'll be in jail).

I'm not even saying it to bash the cell phone-chatting, latte-drinking, checkbook-balancing, Hummer-driving idiots I frequently see around the city running 4-way stops, ignoring pedestrian right-of-ways, and generally causing issues. Because let's be honest, everyone's guilty of those things at times (well, unless you own a Hummer in what's generally accepted to be THE FLATTEST CITY IN THE ENTIRE MIDWEST, and then you're just guilty all the time).

It's just kind of a fact. And recently, to give credit where credit is due, Indy did put in dedicated bike lanes downtown on Michigan and New York streets.

Here's what they didn't do, as I discovered today on my jaunt from Michigan @ Alabama to Michigan @ IUPUI....during which I got honked at a record number of times, was nearly sideswiped twice, and have never hoped so hard that I wouldn't die on my way to work.

First of all, they didn't educate people on how to make right hand turns while still respecting the bike lanes. Which means that the a-hole Honda who drove half in the bike lane and half in my lane, honking at me, for a half a block, actually thought he was supposed to be there. Several weeks ago, a good friend of mine was biking to work downtown and was in an accident with a car that didn't know how to use the new lanes turned right in front of him. He hit the side of the car on his bike and was pitched to the ground, breaking off the mirror with his arm. He was lucky. Give the bikers a break, people. If the line is solid, DON'T CROSS IT. If it's dotted, cross with caution. You don't have the right of way.

Secondly, they didn't do a great job making sure the OLD lane lines were erased. And by "didn't do a great job" I mean, "people are still following the old ones cause they can't tell." At one point on Michigan, there is literally a lane line every half-lane. Explain that to the sedan who drove behind two of us, half in each lane, honking angrily. Yep, that's two times on one street that I got honked at today because the other person thought I was being an ass and driving in two lanes.

Thirdly, they didn't mark the new lanes well, or make an effort to keep the lines, I don't know, STRAIGHT. So as you drive, theoretically in something that is actually a lane, be aware that your lane may shift several feet every time you cross an intersection. Just listen for the honks of other drivers ahead- the screeching brakes and crunching metal will notify you where the problem areas are.

The new bike lanes are a step in the right direction, but because of the total failure in teaching drivers how to respect them, they'll ultimately cause accidents and injuries. Hopefully, the bikers won't bear the burden of the blame when this happens.

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