Tomorrow is election day, and among the chances you have to make Springfield a better place to live is renewing the 1/4-cent Capital Improvements Sales Tax.
Please vote “Yes.”
This tax pays for numerous infrastructure improvements including projects that benefit pedestrians and bicyclists.
You may have noticed sharrows appearing on the streets of the city’s bicycle route system. These shared-lane marking indicate that bicyclists should control the lane. Springfield offers the world a model for how to handle the placement of sharrows well.
Sadly, I cannot say the same for the city’s handling of bicycle lanes. Far too many of the recently-painted lanes fail to meet even the minimum standards of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials. For an example on Cherry, see this recent post and this video. The gutter lane that you’ll see pictured violates an important standard — no part of a gutter pan should be counted in the width of the bicycle lane. Gutter lanes, such as the one on Cherry, typically include differences in surface angles and pavement seams — both are crash hazards for bicyclists. Further, the picture shows a lane painted on a 13-foot travel lane. The minimum standard for sharable width — in which a car and bicycle may safely occupy the same lane at the same time — is 14 feet.
Another example, the city continues to paint door-zone lanes, in which the lane takes you perilously close to parked cars. Click here for a quick lesson about why this is bad. Door-zone crashes can be deadly. Why anyone would paint a bicycle lane next to parked cars is beyond belief given what we know about where it is safe to ride: at least five feet from parked cars, six feet would be even better. See this video for a lesson in riding near parked cars.
I’m not at all sure what’s going on that the city should be handling sharrows so well and lanes so poorly, but that is the reality.
We should vote yes for the tax renewal. And then we must keep and eye on what the city builds and complain when dangerous, out-of-compliance infrastructure is built.