Thursday, November 20, 2014

Night Riding and Good Route Planning.

Yep, it's dark out there after work these days.  I had to make a quick run to REI after work a couple nights ago.  As a result I ended up riding on this portion of Kietzke (between Reno Toyota and Vasser) in an attempt to make it to a lower traffic road (Vasser).  While there are now bike lanes on much of Kietzke's still not a fun or safe place to ride (even with good lights) at night.

So how do you avoid this type of situation.  The short answer is route planning.  I chose to ride out through the Reno Toyota and go down Kietzke Lane to Vasser (Red Route).  What I should have done to have a safer ride was head back out via Harvard Way and connect up with Vasser a little farther East (Green Route).

In my case I choose the red route on purpose (I normally do take the green route), just for a change of pace.  I have quite a few lights on my bike and person (4 total) so I wasn't too worried about being visible to traffic.  However, after even this short section on Kietzke, I was reevaluating this choice.  The sad truth is that while there is bicycle infrastructure on this road....I just didn't feel like people were expecting, looking out for, or aware that I was right next to them as they zipped along at 50 mph or more.

I'm tempted to use the analogy of "putting lipstick on a pig" for the bike lanes on Kietzke Lane.  While route planning is definitely the answer to safety.... I'm left wondering how to further implement bicycle infrastructure with respect to certain road types (e.g. 4 lane "highways").  Are we better off developing this type of infrastructure just so we can say it's there, and we "can" ride there.  Or should we be developing a network of neighborhood "greenways" (like my green route) where there aren't painted bike lanes (there aren't on much of Harvard Way), but bicycles are prioritized via sharrows or some other shared roadway designation on the lower speed, lower traffic streets?

Anyway, something to think about....

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