Now that our itty-bitty bit of snow has melted, the bike lanes are left with the detritus of road sand, leaf piles some of your neighbors pushed into the lane last fall, and all the rest of the things that accumulate over the winter.
On my way home I occasionally have to take the vehicle lane instead of the bike lane because of the amount of gunk piled up alongside the curb.
Herewith, an idea for something we could get rolling informally with the goal of a more formal program down the road (ha ha—transportation joke!): Adopt-a-Bike-Lane.
Many years ago I had a mile of highway adopted (in north Idaho on Hwy. 41). A few times a year I got out and picked up trash. It offered all the entertainment value of an Easter egg hunt except what you find is NOT chocolate and you DON’T want to put it in your mouth….
What I have in mind for bike lanes is kind of along those lines, but made a lot easier since the city already cleans streets every so often. (No one was off in the weeds alongside Hwy. 41 gathering empty generic vodka bottles and crumpled cigarette packs except me.)
What would be utterly fantastic as a starting point would be people adopting the stretch of bike lane (or designated bike route, or heck, even the two or three feet of a regular street closest to the curb) alongside our homes.
It’s essentially a small extension of yard work. When we go out to rake up pine needles or maple leaves in the fall, shovel snow in the winter, or clean off debris in the spring, we just extend our responsibility beyond the sidewalk (which is already our job, in case you didn’t know) and the bike lane. In cold conditions we make sure we’re not rinsing water into the lane where it will freeze and create a hazard. Then we take it a little further and pick up debris: broken glass, lug nuts, stray hubcaps, pieces of wire.
When it goes formal with signage, I can see local bike clubs, service clubs, organizations like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and others adopting stretches that aren’t in residential areas.
Part of the inspiration for this is, admittedly, a not-very-good neighbor down the road from me on Southeast Boulevard around Fourteenth. I’ve told a few folks about the encounters I’ve had in front of the house owned by people I have not-so-affectionately nicknamed “The Blockers.”
It hasn’t been bad in recent months. Maybe they moved.
But in the past, in the bike lane there on various occasions I have encountered—I kid you not—a cardboard box full of potted plants, a table full of glassware, and a stove—an electric four-burner stove. Talk about needing to be mindful–I need to be on the lookout for major appliances!
They routinely set their garbage and green waste bins in the lane. They rake their leaves into the lane (which is a violation of city code, by the way). The next step would be to just start throwing things out of the house windows directly into the lane without bothering to containerize first.
They have a perfectly good driveway and lawn that they ignore in favor of the bike lane for all their disposal needs. Those of you who utilize the bike lane going north on Southeast Boulevard probably recognize this description.
Since everyone has something to contribute to this world, I give them full credit for inspiring the adoption idea.
Cruising the Web I’ve found a few places with something called an Adopt-a-Bike-Lane program that’s really a problem reporting program: Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula and Fort Collins, for example.
Since when did adopting something mean you only call others to deal with the problems instead of dealing with it yourself? Sure doesn’t mean that for kids or pets!
I’m looking for more hands-on solutions in which we don’t just complain about this–we do something about it–and am hoping to see links to examples of working civic or government programs posted in the comments.
So what do you think? Would you take this on right now without the fanfare and hoopla? Would you be more likely to do so if you got a nice sign with your individual or group name for acknowledgement of your effort and commitment?
- What weirdness have you encountered in the bike lane?