I am writing to question the need for bike lanes in Oak Park [Oak Park hopes to get bike lanes rolling in 2010, News, March 10]
Last summer I started commuting by bicycle from Oak Park to my office in the Loop. Since then, I have logged more than 3,000 miles on Oak Park and Chicago streets.
When I ride, my main concern is safety. I worry about road conditions, traffic, dogs, glass, drug dealers and bad drivers. In my quest to find the optimal route, I think I’ve tried just about every street I could, except for the Eisenhower.
When I first started riding, I sought out the routes that had the most bike lanes. I quickly learned that they are death traps. Bike lanes provide a 5-foot (at best) space between parked cars on your right, and moving cars on your left. My biggest fear when riding is that a door on a parked car will open at the moment I am passing by at 15 mph, with a moving car on my left. I’m trapped with no good options. As far as I’m concerned, bike lanes on streets with parking are dangerous and offer very little advantage over streets with no bike lanes.
Face it, painting a 4-inch wide white line on a street changes nothing. Cars use bike lanes for convenient short-term parking, passing lanes and right-hand turn lanes. If Oak Park wants to get serious about providing bike lanes, it should consider installing concrete barriers and banning parking on bike lane streets. But that isn’t going to happen.
Oak Park has plenty of north-south and east-west streets that have light traffic and few parked cars. I would much rather ride on those streets than the ones being considered for bike lanes (Division and Chicago).
If village officials want to find a way to spend $150,000 to make riding bicycles safer and more enjoyable, they should spend it on fixing our streets.
I honestly think that the main reason for painting bike lanes is so that the village can boast that we are bike friendly. This initial expense of $150,000 and 10-year cost of more than $3 million is another example of the village wasting taxpayer dollars.
P.S. My current favorite route is Lake Street.