Bike lanes don’t maintain themselves

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By Joel M. Williams

Some bicyclists want bike lanes all over Los Alamos and our county council has accommodated many of their desires. Indeed, the entire stretch of Diamond Drive is slated to be so marked when finished.

If bike lanes are created, they must be maintained in a manner that is safe and conducive to their actually being used. Unfortunately, bike lanes are seldom properly maintained. Right now, about the only clean part of most of the lanes along Diamond Drive is the foot or so next to the stripe where autos have “beaten a path.” So, bikers “ride the line” or venture into the auto lane. I believe that this creates a situation worse than folks “sharing the road.” Some would say that what we have now is not normal. Maybe, but I note that the less-than-proper conditions exists all year. Council has set aside bike lanes; motorists expect bikers to stay well inside those lanes, even if they have to “tip-toe” along.

If normal county operations do not have the funds to keep the bike lanes clean (lots of sweeping, folks), then those lanes should be eliminated. Bike lanes that go unused are wasting our money even to have them constructed – just Los Alamos showing off. Given the overall outdoors community we have in Los Alamos, it would probably make more sense to eliminate the bike lanes altogether and let the cars ride that area to clear it and graciously move over (or be ticketed for failure) when bikers are present. This eliminates any maintenance needed for bike lanes at all. Diamond Drive is a perfect model where there is an enormous right lane for all – even bikers.

One might consider that if tennis players have to shovel their courts in order to use them in the winter, then bikers need to get out there and clean those bike lanes themselves to a sufficient level that they ride in the middle of them. Given the choice, I suspect the bikers would choose to have no lanes marked.

I suggest that creating bike lanes where road lanes are wide enough for cars and bikes to travel side-by-side safely creates additional, unjustifiable maintenance costs for the county (us).

In a similar vein, councilors should not authorize a county building bigger than one they are prepared to maintain fully, either. Rome fell because it could not maintain its stretch and pomposity.

Joel M. Williams

Los Alamos