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The unintended consequences of bike lanes

The Boston area is working hard to add bike lanes wherever they can. As a biker, in principle, I like the idea.

But as I’ve watched a busy stretch of road convert from no bike lanes to bike lanes, here’s what I’ve noticed most: more people park illegally. Somehow the bike lane operates as a permission to “temporarily” park at the side of the road. This morning, for example, I had to weave around 5 different illegally (but “temporarily”) parked cars; before the bike lanes were added, I literally never encountered a similarly parked car.

Weaving doesn’t sound terrible, except I worry that drivers are less attentive when there’s a bike lane than when there isn’t one. There’s a subconscious sense of “that’s your space, and here is mine” that I fear makes them less attentive. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean cities shouldn’t install bike lanes. But they also need to adjust the rules about temporary parking. And schmucks need to learn that walking an extra half block to get your double tall carmel latte won’t kill you. Indeed, and as an extra bonus, it would make it even less likely to kill me (or a bigger concern, my kids).

  • Posted 11 months ago
  • May 14th, 2013

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