Wednesday, July 8, 2015

But More People Don't Bike Because #AmericasLoveAffairWithCars!

Mailbox post in trash can filled with cement
in middle of sidewalk in Mattapoisett, MA
We're constantly told Americans drive everywhere because of our mythical love affair with cars, but trying to bike in car-dependent areas feels a lot more like we're trapped in a bad relationship.

Obstacles encountered on the sidewalk of Route 6 in Mattapoisett recently while trying to bike home:
  • Utility poles
  • Trash carts left by pickup crews in the middle of the sidewalk
  • Abandoned traffic cones
  • Abandoned utility pole support posts now supporting nothing
  • Mailbox posts
  • Shards of old mailbox posts sticking up out of the sidewalk
  • Mailbox posts built into trash cans filled with cement in the middle of the sidewalk, because mailbox safety clearly trumps people on bicycle safety 
  • Untrimmed tree branches hanging down
  • Untrimmed bushes pushing out from the side
  • Deep driveway curb cuts, because the last thing we'd want to do is make cars slow down while driving across the sidewalk
There's no bike lane on Route 6 and the speed limits range up to 45 miles an hour, which means people drive around 50 miles an hour. For casual bicyclists, the sidewalk is your only option (and there's only sidewalk on one side of the road).

Considering Route 6 is lightly traveled and I-195 parallels it just one mile to the north, it would be easy to add a bike lane, or at least an adequately wide sidewalk.

But that would mean slightly reducing vehicle speeds! How much of our freedom are we really willing to give up for complete streets? As a neighbor asked in nearby Wareham, won't someone think of the children?
"You want them to make room for all these bikers? It'll be a narrower road for ambulances heading to Tobey Hospital and school kids traveling home. There is limited space down there."
Clearly bike paths are death traps that eat the young & sick. The only way to make things safe is to give cars even more room to drive even faster!
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