Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Suburban Bike Safety

One of the things I love the most about our small town is its bike-friendliness.  We can bike from "the suburbs" to downtown, and even to the Washington state line (and from there into Spokane - I've also noticed a bike lane at the airport!) all on paved biking trails that are separate from the road.

Biker Gang of 2
Our town seems like a bike-friendly community, and there are efforts to increase awareness of bikes on the roads (like this group) and to encourage bike usage.

I try to designate a few days each week as my "car-free" days - so long as its not too icy or snowy out.  When I'm biking, I am nearly always pulling my toddler in our bike trailer, and thankfully, he loves to ride along and see the world this way.  I love the extra exercise, time outside and time away from my car.  It is a win-win-win!
No selfies while biking.
Recently, we tried something new and biked to a different library than the one we usually frequent.  This required us to cross a 4 lane divided highway, that is basically the main thoroughfare running north out of town.  It has sidewalks and crosswalks and crossing signs.  We obeyed them all as we crossed, but the timing of the signs required us to hang out on the sidewalk in the median for about 5 minutes, waiting to cross the second half of the street, before we could get back on the north/south bike path.

Biking the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes - no cars to worry about!
The median was just barely wide enough to fit both my bike and trailer without either part hanging out into the busy traffic.  I kept watching all of the traffic.  But I have seen one accident at this same intersection where one of the vehicles spun out of control towards the sidewalk. 

Recalling this accident made me second-guess my decision to bike this way.  Had an accident occurred while we were waiting in the median, we would have been lame ducks, unable to move out of the way quickly enough.

So....I'm probably not going to bike to this library again.  As much as I enjoyed it, it is not worth the risk.  My husband and I were talking about it, and it would be so awesome if there was a bike overpass (or tunnel?) at this intersection.  There are literally hundreds of homes located on the west side of the highway, but the north/south bike path is on the east side of the road.  So is the Farmer's Market.  So, you really can't access the bike path without crossing the big highway.

Making roadways safer is good for drivers and bikers, and might encourage more folks to bike around town.  I hope there are continued efforts to improve bikeability in CDA!   

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