Bike lanes equal safer, calmer streets


There has been a long-standing debate over who rules the roads of Marquette. This battle is between two modalities of transportation and their owners: bikers and drivers.

People who prefer to peddle their way around are often uneasy when cars creep up on their back tires like a game of bumper cars. Those who prefer to drive are perturbed when they are forced to drive only as fast as a bicyclist can peddle. This creates tension between the two, which in turn creates a completely hazardous environment.

So who truly is more entitled to the roads? The answer is neither. If bikers and drivers must share the road, both have equal rights and therefore should abide by the same rules, especially regarding safety.

However, this will never happen if left to the hands of those causing the problem, and as another summer has come and gone the city of Marquette has done little to help. I think the answer is pretty simple: create more bike lanes.

In 2006, The Texas Department of Transportation provided $114,000 to study how bike lanes helped interactions between drivers and cyclists. The results showed that having the lanes on streets helped both varieties of commuters stay in safer, more central positions in their own lanes.

After the study, cities such as Austin, Houston and San Antonio increased the number of bike lanes. After doing so, collisions between motorists and cyclists decreased, as I’m sure tensions between the two did as well.

It’s a win-win situation; bikers will have their own domain to cruise upon, so they will not be sharing the same lanes as motorists. But when faced with the decision of creating a bike lane on one of the busiest streets in Marquette, the City Commission voted against the change. This decision was met by comments from both sides, varying from the pro-bike lane argument of “I will hit any biker who gets in my lane” to “hard core bikers don’t use them anyway, so why bother?”

In the end the commission said they needed more proof the lanes would be beneficial.
Most recently, the bike lanes added to both sides of McClellan Avenue were met with disgust by residents who cannot park on the streets. Granted, it did come as a complete surprise to them, as well as the mayor and the commission, according to the article ran in the Mining Journal on Aug. 25.

That is no way to go about things, but I still don’t think lack of parking, or unnecessary proof that the lanes would benefit the city amounts to much when it comes to the safety of your fellow

According to The Bicycle Almanac, 784 U.S. bikers died as the result of a collision with a car in 2005. You hear about it around campus weekly, where a seemingly-safe bicycle ride home ends in injury or, at times, death.

In other college towns, such as Michigan State University’s home of East Lansing, Mich., bike lanes are supported by the city as a safety benefit. Lansing has its own ongoing bike lane education campaign to increase Lansing residents’ and MSU students’
understanding of the benefits of bike lanes.

It’s not just bicyclists that are in danger, but motorists as well. Swerving to miss a cyclist can result in an accident with another vehicle or any object in the way. In Marquette, many of the bike lanes are so narrow one swerve could bring a cyclist into the path of a vehicle, or vice versa.

Unfortunately, we as citizens are not always in control of what goes on around us. No matter how many times people say “drive safe,” or “wear a helmet,” it is useless to encourage safety if you do not give the proper resources to support it.