To the Editor:
The proposed bike plan for Wooddale Avenue, between 42½ and 44th streets, is not the way to achieve the city’s mission of encouraging the “Interested but Concerned” bicyclist, which is the vast majority of bicyclists: 51-56% of the biking population, according to the city’s own research.
It is dangerous, and a waste of taxpayer money, because this group will not use this bike route.
By the city’s definition, the “Interested but Concerned” bicyclist is “often not comfortable with bike lanes, may bike on sidewalks even if bike lanes are provided … may not bike if bicycle facilities do not meet needs for perceived comfort.”
This $200,000-plus project creates a striped lane on both sides of Wooddale, removes 80% of street parking and constructs five parking “bump-outs” – which removes 10 healthy trees and puts 10 more at risk for limb loss or death in the coming years.
An unprotected striped bike lane creates a false sense of security.
It will not make any type of cyclist feel comfortable or safe. The National Transportation Safety Board states that an unprotected striped bikeway is safe only on streets with speeds under 25 mph. Wooddale Avenue’s speed limit is 30 mph; drivers whiz through at 35 mph plus; the city has no plans to lower the speed limit.
The city is obtaining a variance to further narrow this striped lane beyond normal bike path standards, squeezing the biker into dodging debris, drains and cars backing out of 38 driveways.
A striped lane encourages drivers to forget that a bicyclist could be sharing the road with them at any point, particularly at intersections.
I am that “Interested but Concerned” target audience, biking for enjoyment, exercise, a short errand. Studies show we use the sidewalk, or calmer side streets, because we don’t require the most direct route (as would a commuter biker) but the safest and most comfortable one.
So, who is this bike path for? Not for the “Interested but Concerned” bicyclist. Not for the “Confident/Commuter Biker.” Not for children.
Why is the city insistent on a plan that so few will, or should, use?
Debra Fisher Goldstein
St. Louis Park