Bike lane in New York; Image credit Lloyd Alter
Listening to the noise from some politicians in New York and Toronto, you would think that bike lanes are the worst things that ever happened to their roads, taking up space that was theirs and theirs alone. But Planners Ken Greenberg and Trent Lethco suggest otherwise; they actually claim that if drivers want more space on the roads, they should push for more bike lanes. It's like that old Kirk cartoon where the drivers stuck in traffic are all saying "If these idiots would just take the bus, I could be home by now."- the more people who use alternative modes of transport, the more room there is on the road for drivers. They write in the Globe and Mail:
Every additional trip we take on foot, on a bicycle or by public transit frees up significant space for drivers, since the "footprints" of these other modes are so much smaller. The cyclist beside you is not the car in front of you; the bicycle locked to a ring at curbside means one less parking space is taken. Driver, cyclist and pedestrian are complementary rather than mutually exclusive categories. Most of us are all of these at different times. What's crucial is the proportion of time we use each mode, and creating communities where the car is needed for only certain types of trips. For other trips, we can make more efficient choices.
It really makes perfect sense. I used to drive and now I cycle; that's one less car on the road, one less parking space being filled.
By promoting alternatives and making safe and comfortable space for cyclists (and pedestrians) in shared rights of way, we make room for driving when it's needed. By trying to make it easier for drivers by "hogging" the right of way, we make it impossible.
More in the Globe and Mail
More on Ken Greenberg
Walking Home: Ken Greenberg On How Jane Jacobs Was Right (Book Review)
Toronto: A Bold Vision for a Green Future