Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Bike friendly?

As we've discussed numerous times here, New Orleans is naturally a near-perfect biking city. At least during the non-crap weather part of the year it is. The terrain is flat. The city is relatively compact. If you live in town, it's highly likely that biking is the most convenient way to get anywhere you might need to go. This is especially true during special events when streets are blocked off or parking is in short supply such as the just passed SuperBowl or the just now re-starting Carnival season.

Well, it's true for now, anyway.

I've argued with people over whether this makes it necessary to go around installing bike lanes everywhere.  I still think that causes more problems than it solves, in fact. According to this study, we can at least say that it has encouraged more people to use bicycles.

The study is more exhaustive than previous studies of local bike lanes. Observers at designated areas not only counted cyclists on South Carrollton Avenue but also on the two streets running parallel on either side, capturing a larger picture of riders in the area.

The overall number of cyclists grew by 110 percent on South Carrollton Avenue and the side streets. But the greatest increase happened on the street with new bike lanes – a 225 percent increase from 79 daily riders a year ago to 257 daily riders.

“This study shows that bike lanes promote physical activity among all ages and are a cost-effective tool for planners, engineers and government officials,” Parker said. “The total cost of the South Carrollton Avenue bike lanes was less than 1 percent of the total road resurfacing project.”
Again, I think this is a dubious conclusion. Maybe the lane does "promote physical activity." I'm not sure it promotes an easier commute, though. Now that we've been so successful at getting so many people to bike around town, we're approaching a point where the congestion is starting to negatively affect the convenience.

In one particular reflection of this problem, it's getting harder and harder to find a place to park a bike. Here are some signs I've noticed popping up around town prohibiting the tying of bicycles in places where, just a few years ago, no one would have had any problem with it.   If we're investing so much effort in becoming a "bike-friendly" city, maybe we should be more friendly when it comes to bike parking too.

Obnoxious signage at Muriel's

NO Bike parking


No bike parking

No bike parking

Securing of bikes is prohibited

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