Monday, July 23, 2007

Former mayor becomes a traffic calming device

Paul Soglin posted this on his blog Sunday:
When I ride my bike down Glenway to the bike trail, I am now a traffic calming device. I do not like it.

On Glenway, as you approach the trail from Mineral Point Road, there are three of those islands designed to narrow the roadway. As a result there is no room for a car to safely pass a bicycle. As you tool along, cars stay on your rear for a distance of close to two blocks.

The driver does have an option. Accelerate quickly, pass, and pull over before the next 'calming device.' Calm my ass.
I know what he means. That stretch is an awful accident waiting to happen. Although I'm fortunate enough to be able to conveniently access the Southwest Bike Past from the yet-to-be calmed Commonwealth Avenue, I know what he means, as I drive up and down Glenway all the time. I always marvel that more people don't get hurt. The calming islands here seem more like a triumph of theory over reality than a practical safety measure.

Not quite as bad as the congested bridge at the entrance of Vilas Park, where pedestrians and bikers walk toward oncoming, one-way traffic that can't see them till the last minute. But almost.

1 comment:

Dr Diablo said...

The potential for accidents should motivate those in charge, but it doesn't; only the reality spurs action.

However, there are other reasons to make the cycling experience less harrowing. If urban biking weren't so full of unwelcome thrills, more people would pedal rather than drive. Anybody who has been in a recent summer Beltline backup--each stopped car containing one person talking on a cell phone--could hardly help but wish to see laternative transportation made as painless as possible.

I know this marks me as hopelessly un-Continental, but I hate to bike. Even as a kid I found it tedious. However, I support those who do like it, not only because I want them to enjoy their time on the planet but because it makes so much sense to discourage over-reliance on the automobile.