Saturday, August 22

Who is This Supposed to Help Again?

I needed to do some recreational miles, and I needed to do them TODAY. Call it an equipment, consumables, TSD, and motor check. I rode in to Fort Worth for a little coffee over at the TCU Starbucks. I discovered that my inbound route of choice was actually a designated Fort Worth bike route, well marked with signs and with occasional sharrows painted on the road to encourage me (or something). It was very pleasant, though I was a little amused when it abruptly "ended" right as I reached downtown. I even did some Trinity Trails riding. Those are very pleasant, especially if you're doing low-speed cruising. If you're trying to make time, stick to the streets.

Anyway, after I had the coffee, I had the bright idea of surveying the new Magnolia Avenue bike lanes (see more about their installation here). They run past Panther City Cycles, who were advocates of putting them in. Almost in front of PCC, I took the shot shown below. Yes, that's the bike lane boundary running right through the middle of the old sharrow marking. I didn't see any bike route signs (Fort Worth maps still show it as "Route 312"). I guess we'd have to say "Route 312, RIP."

Magnolia USED to be a four-lane road with the outside lane marked with sharrows. NOW it's a three-lane road with bike lanes. I didn't ride IN the bike lanes, mostly on general principles; since I wasn't trying to go anywhere in particular the lanes didn't really present any serious danger to me. The sharrows, as you can see, are still there (though with gray paint making them less visible), bisected by the bike lane stripe. Now, cyclists are scooted to the side, or made to feel uncomfortable, and motor traffic has lost a lane in each direction. Explain to me again why I'm supposed to jump up and down with enthusiasm for this? Is this supposed to encourage motorists to peacefully sing Kumbaya whenever they see a person on a bike? What makes it much WORSE is that there's an alley a half block to the north that has been converted to shared MUP/Motor vehicle traffic. A little care, and any cyclist that is skittish about riding with his/her motorized friends has a much nicer alternative to the bike lanes. I think these are "political" bike lanes pure and simple.

Anyway, after several blocks, I concluded there's not much reason to ride down Magnolia any more. Rosedale is quicker anyway. I suspect a lot of motorists have concluded the same thing.

I sure hope this isn't typical of what Fort Worth is planning for us, or I'll shut up about their lack of anything resembling planning for anything bicycle-related out by Alliance Airport. Magnolia sure doesn't look like any of those "urban planning complete streets" fantasy pictures. This is worse than benign neglect. And no, I didn't see any cyclists at all using those bike lanes...

2 comments:

stu42j said...

Have you gone out there with a yard stick to see if this thing even meets any design guidlines?

Steve A said...

No, I didn't have a yard stick with me.

Fortworthology.com has a few photos. One thing that bothers me is that one of the commenters in their "Magnolia Complete Streets" post gives credit to the same team that's putting the NEW Fort Worth bike plan on the table. That bodes ill if this is what we can expect in the future.

Bike lanes and paths don't HAVE to be dim bulb and dangerous, but they seem to be so most of the time.

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