COLUMNS

Pedestrian Bridge, Not a Bike Lane

Chester Kojro
Chester A. Kojro

It looks like the I-44 pedestrian bridge at Exit 185 along E Hwy / University Drive will finally be going in soon. Goodness knows that pedestrians need something better than the horrid narrow little walkway that is there now.

But then, I remember the bridge before it even had the chain link security fencing and the concrete barrier separating the walkway from traffic. Talk about dangerous, but those were unenlightened times when nobody was concerned with walkability, never mind handicapped access. Nope; so long as cars got through, that’s all that mattered.

It is certainly a nice looking bridge. The bright green is truly eye catching. I do hope that the City or University puts a traffic counter on it to track its usage. It would be handy information when follow-on pedestrian projects are considered. Like perhaps the Bishop Avenue bridge across I-44 at Exit 186. Its pedestrian walkway is horrendous. But that’s for another time. Let’s celebrate a bridge going in.

But now I wonder what the bicycle pedalers will do. I wonder if they will quickly zip along in the traffic lanes across the highway bridge like ordinary vehicles or will they putz along weaving around pedestrians along the sidewalks, zig zag at the crosswalks and then squeeze in with all the walkers crossing the new pedestrian bridge, then zig zag some more at the other side’s crosswalks as they continue weaving along the sidewalks.

Bicycling on sidewalks is unsafe and should be avoided. It is not illegal except within the downtown business district and the bridge and University are both outside of that. Alas, I expect that the bridge will prove attractive to inexperienced pedalers since many already ride across on the existing walkway even though it is too narrow for two bicycles to pass each other or even for a bicycle to safely pass a lone pedestrian without first stopping. Cautionary signs might be a good idea, but we shall see.

Having crossed that bridge many times, I prefer to ride along with roadway traffic just like any other vehicle. Much easier, faster and safer. Besides, there is little point in pedaling a bicycle if you intend to move along at a pedestrian pace. Might as well just walk!

I hope that I’ve dispelled some concerns and encouraged others to give bicycle riding a try. Perhaps we’ll meet soon. I’ll ring my bell.