Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lansing Planners, You Really Screwed-Up

When you put in a bike lane on Holmes Rd, near Pleasant Grove Rd, then turned around and removed it when some resident motorists complained, you messed-up real good.
Holmes Rd had four lanes, (before the bike lane trial) and people became accustomed to that, despite the fact that the amount of traffic carried does NOT justify four lanes. Then, the city put in bike lanes on each side of the road, made it into three lanes with center lane being a left-turn lane. Then the uproar occurred. The local motorists complained that that there was too much of wait to make a turn or go through at the intersection at Pleasant Grove Rd. It's all of 4 extra seconds of waiting out of their entire lives, but that's too much for a motorist to tolerate. It's unbearable! And what did the city do? Instead of telling the residents that Holmes Rd does not justify having four lanes and other users need access to the road also, the city just said: "Oh, I'm so sorry for your inconvenience!" Then they came out and scrapped-up the paint designating bike lanes and turned it back into four lanes.
Do you know what this did, city planners? It gave the motorists a huge win. You told them, "It's your road, and no-one, including cyclists or anyone else, doesn't really have a right to use that road. It's all yours!" The law says other users have a legal right to use the road, but you told the motorists, through your acquiesence, that they have exclusive rights to the road. BIG MISTAKE!
The difference between the time before the bike lanes and then after their removal in terms of motorists' behavior is dramatic. Before the bike lane trial, when I cycled on Holmes Rd, motorists would move into the left lane and pass, and occasionally a driver would make a rude comment. Maybe, once a week, someone would mouth-off. But, not usually.
But, now, it's hell alley for a cyclist or other non-motorist. In a two-mile stretch from my house to the grocery store, on a daily basis, I will get sworn at least four times and sometimes more. I'm told to "get the hell out of my way; ride on the sidewalk;" and other nasty-mouth expressions I can't put in print. Ninety-eight percent of the cyclists will ride on the sidewalk. They have been intimidated off the road by the motorists.
Then, at the stop-light at Homes and Martin Luther King, I get harassment there when I stop for the red light. I take my lane, so that they can't crush me against the curb as the they try to sneak by me when doing a right turn. They really resent my taking the lane, and they roll down their window and let the crap flow out of their mouths. And, when the light changes, when I go straight through, instead of using the left lane and passing me, some of the drivers have stayed behind me, followed me until I turned at the grocery store, laying on their horn the whole time. They refused to use the open left lane and pass. Instead, because they've been given the upper hand by the city of Lansing, they stay behind me, laying on their horn, hoping to intimidate me off the road. (I mean, they succeeded in getting rid of the inconvenient bike lanes, so now, their thinking, lets' get rid of the cyclists too! The city will back us up!) I don't intimidate, and that results in more cussing and swearing from them!
I don't get this kind of behavior on any other roads I ride in Lansing, including high-speed, high traffic, Waverly Rd. Just Holmes road. I can only conclude that it's because the city backed-off, removed the bike lanes, and gave the drivers and local residents the tacit message that, "Yes, indeed, you own the whole road. Nobody else has a right to use it but you"
Congratulations, Lansing, for validating these drivers' habit of going into road rage when anyone on the road bothers them. That's what you accomplished on Holmes Rd.

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