A few months ago the city of Upper Arlington changed the traffic pattern on Redding Rd and added bike lanes. Of course they did not put up no parking signs so these lanes are usually blocked but I thought it was a step in the right direction. Per usual the local paper is publishing exclusively anti-bikelane letters. For some reason I continue to be surprised by the constant fight citizens of UA put up against improvements to our cities infrastructure and services. Anyhow, if you would like to make a step forward for positive change please send Mr. Valentino with the cities traffic division at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the letter I sent.
I have written the papers similar emails as this one I am sending you, but they haven’t printed them so I want to make sure someone at the city knows I support building infrastructure such as the bike lanes on Redding Rd. As a point of reference I live 2 houses down from Redding Rd.
My wife grew up in UA and because of her appreciation for the school system and it’s proximity to downtown when we decided to start a family we chose to live here. Since moving in 4 years ago I realized that this community has many good things about it but, as a resident, I feel like we’re stuck in the past. Every time there is an attempt at improving the infrastructure (unless it is for cars) either fails or is met with extreme resistance. Obviously this is again the situation with something as simple as bicycle lanes. While I am disappointed by this I am not willing to give into it - I want UA to move forward and become a better city.
I am a cyclist. By choice we only have one car in our family. I use my bicycle to ride the 8 miles each way to and from work at the Rhodes Tower downtown. I do many of my errands on my bicycle and I like to go for bike rides with my wife and my daughter (in my bike trailer). When we aren’t on our bicycles we’re often walking. While we do this because we enjoy it we actively understand that our actions are improving our community, even if just a little.
The primary complaints I hear from residents against things such as bike lanes, especially the ones on Redding are the following.
1) Cars are parked on the bike lane making the lane useless and travel by car in the auto lane difficult. So why don’t we limit parking on the street? Give them what they are asking for. with 35 mph speed limits being the maximum in most of UA there are few roads that require 4 lanes of traffic so why not turn more streets into 3 lane plus bike lane? The most glaring issue though is that all of these people have driveways. If you take a trip down Redding Rd you will often see multiple cars parked in the bike lane while driveways sit empty. Seeing as all or nearly all residents have driveways in UA I’ll ask the question of why I should have to pay for them to park their car on a public right of way?
2) Bicyclists and walkers should avoid major streets and should use sidewalks. Besides the fact that sidewalks are a tough commodity to come by in UA the ones that do exist are barely adequate for walking, much less cycling. If you walk with a stroller on the sidewalks you often have to negotiate rotating between sidewalks and the streets because of sidewalks disappearing. Sidewalks are also often damaged and over grown by privets and trees. While walking on primary roads is dangerous I would argue that drivers on the residential streets are at least as careless as the drivers on the primary roads.
Safety is always a concern of mine and I would like to point out a few things regarding my experiences over the years as a cyclist living “car-light”. Bike lanes are very useful but not just because they provide cyclists with a place to ride. In fact, often bike lanes are not the respected and thus are, in and of themselves, difficult to use because of people parking in them or throwing broken glass and debris in them. What they do for us though is force people to be aware of the possibility of cyclists. Now of course in towns where the lanes are properly enforced they do work beautifully.
I have been assaulted several times when riding in UA. I have had people deliberately try to force me off the road. One recent example of this was when I was riding near the Main Library and a driver brushed me with her mirror. I yelled out “Be Careful You Almost Hit Me” and she immediately gave me the middle finger. I caught up with her at the intersection and noticed that her young son was in the car with her and this was her way of dealing with some “anonymous” bicyclist on the road. When she passed me there was no oncoming traffic stopping her from taking the other lane. This is just an unfortunate reality of drivers in our community.
One final argument is the fact that UA’s primary competition - places like Grandview, Dublin and New Albany are all either fully on board with providing this type of infrastructure or have plans in the works to make this happen. The city of Columbus is pushing to become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly as well. Why are our residents asking UA to get left in the dust on this? With the current environmental concerns, concerns about overweight children and a general malaise about being neighborly isn’t it about time we invested in something as positive as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure?
I hope you take this to heart and I hope the city officials have the political fortitude to do what is right and invest in improving infrastructure like this - infrastructure that benefits our families and children and overall community.
A second order of business for this post is that the organization hosting an evironmental meeting in Upper Arlington on August 15th have a website now and I’d like to give you the link. If you have an opportunity to make it out to the meeting then make sure you do. Seeing as we have apparently lost all control over our state and national politicians then we need to be extra diligent at home and in our local communities. Take a look at www.coolua.org.