So basically, most bike lanes are bad and spotty and have huge gaps that force bicyclists to almost completely lose whatever dignity they might briefly have attained during their bicycle ride.
And if you're in a country where bad bike lanes are commonplace, how do you go about choosing the "worst" one? That's really where this discussion should be heading.
Given this trecharous landscape, I'm going to suggest that the following equation for choosing the worst bike lane: [total # of riders] + [quality of bike lane] = [total bike lane quality impact]
|[Yes, this is the worst bike lane in the Midwest.]|
Allow me to explain...
Minneapolis is one of the top cycling cities in the country, both in terms of total riding and % of people riding bicycles. This makes bad bike lanes in here far worse than a bad bike lane in, say, Peoria IL, which might see a few dozen cyclists each day. Madison, WI has us beat in terms of bike rates, but they're a far smaller town. Chicago is bigger, but their rates are far lower and their cyclists more spread out. And other than Madison and Chicago, the rest of the big cycling cities are on the coasts.
So, if we're thinking about where within Minneapolis you'll find the worst bike lane, you'll need to then think about where in Minneapolis you find the highest densities of cyclists. And the answer to that? The University of Minnesota campus.
The two most dense spots in the entire city for cycling are both on or near the University campus:
Since 2007, the number of bicyclists counted has increased 47%. The busiest on-street location is SE 15th Avenue north of SE University Avenue with 3,810 bicycle trips. The busiest off-street location is the upper deck of the Washington Avenue Bridge with 6,850 trips.There are thousands of bikes everyday day going in between these two main routes. And, what kind of bike lane connects these two major thoroughfares?
|[Semi truck backing into the only space connecting two main bike routes.]|
This crappy strip of narrow concrete is shared not only by tons of pedestrians and separated from the bike lanes by concrete barriers, strange crosswalks, and a ramp. On top of that, it serves as a loading dock for some sort of highly explosive-looking chemical facility, and routinely features huge semi trucks backing into and out of this tiny cramped space through which these large numbers of bicycles are supposed to flow.
Thus, I put it to you, Midwest. If you start accounting for crappy quality + total # of cyclists to create a total bike lane impact measure (Total BLIM), this stretch of the "university bike system" is the worst around.
|[This, the worst bike lane in the Midwest.]|
|[Car driving in the tiny bike lane / parking lot / loading dock connecting the city's 2 most trafficked bike routes.]|
|[The Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Board scratching their heads and staring at their shoes when confronted by the bike lane.]|