Full Lane signs are now on Hardin!
Driving home tonight I watched a cyclist riding the sidewalk northbound on Hardin coming down the hill toward Virginia. Our sidewalks aren’t very contiguous, so I knew this was going to be a bad idea. He ran out of sidewalk and exited onto Hardin right in front of the car ahead of me. He tried hard to stay right up against the curb and that car passed him within inches. I slowed and gave him room, but as I went around he was still fighting to stay against the curb. Right then we all passed one of the city’s new “Bicycles may use Full Lane” signs. Three cars ahead was another cyclist (McKinney Velo) who was riding where the driver of a car would be sitting, taking possession of the lane. Nobody was fighting to get around this bike, and yes we drove slower in the right lane.
I wanted to stop my car and tell the other guy what he needs to know – ride with intent and be clear. Don’t think you can sneak around cars, don’t jump out in traffic and don’t hug the curb! These things can really make a mess of you and your bike. The city is making the roads safer for cyclists, but the part that’s missing is education.
We need some public service announcements, man.
“People of McKinney, learn to ride and drive in the same space!” The On-Street Bicycle plan had all kinds of cool things in the budget, but apparently no education. In conversation with Gary Graham, city traffic engineer, they have a very tight budget for what they are able to accomplish, and no money for anything else. I suggested a billboard campaign on 75 to talk about how everyone should be behaving (stealing a page from Canada and 1970′s United States) and Gary said that would be a great idea but there’s no budget for it.
Without understanding what’s expected of people, signage and road painting won’t have the kind of effect needed. The money for a billboard is insignificant compared to creating a shared lane or widening roads. more importantly, the cost of an emergency room visit because someone rode the curb and got clipped by a truck mirror on a road with a sign that says “Bicycles may use full lane” far outweighs the cost of one advertising campaign.
The bigger problem might be a social problem. A lot of the cyclists who ride like this are people who have a bike as the main means of transportation. They are not riding a cool road bike with a graphite frame, and they don’t look good in lycra. They are trying to stay out of the way and get their day done without making waves, and riding the curb seems natural. These cyclists, the day to day commuters, the riders going to get groceries or going to meet the work truck are the ones we need to educate quickly. The guy I watched this evening was doing what he thought was best, and he almost got creamed into the curb on a street the city was already trying to make safe.
Ok, I need to get off the soap box.
Hardin! There are signs on Hardin!