October 5, 2010 in City

Clark: Bike lanes circumvent Spokane’s true spirit

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Downtown bike lanes?

Come on. Spokane needs downtown bike lanes like it needs a two-term mayor.

We’ve gotten along fine without either one since practically forever, so why go changing things now?

Look. I’m not an anti-bike guy.

There was a time, in fact, when I rode my 10-speed almost every day. On occasion I’d venture out on 100-mile “century” rides.

A buddy of mine and I once pedaled from Coeur d’Alene to Troy, Mont.

I was decked out in special bike shoes, padded-palm gloves, fancy wool shorts and a big slotted plastic helmet.

What a getup. I was lucky I wasn’t bagged and field-dressed by a North Idaho pickup-driving redneck highway poacher.

Oh, yeah. I was once the poster boy for cycling suave.

I’d still be riding, too. But unfortunately the bicycle-seat industry failed to keep pace with my ass.

So the red Schwinn Paramount with custom chrome lugs that I ordered from Chicago back in the late 1970s remains abandoned in my basement like Puff the Magic Dragon, gathering cobwebs and dust.

It’s so sad. Some days I go down and look wistfully at my old ride and think:

“How in the sacred name of Floyd Landis’ steroid connection did I ever manage to straddle that thing?”

The point is that I’m still very sympathetic to the bicycling mentality.

It’s just that I’m even more in tune with the gas-guzzling Spokane driver mentality.

So trust me when I say that trading a car lane for a bike lane on Second Avenue strikes me as one gaping pothole of a bad idea.

It will up the traffic snarl. It will compound motorist confusion.

And let’s face it: whether you have bike lanes or not, the potential for danger is always there whenever cyclists and motorists mingle.

You don’t need any fancy engineering studies to prove that, either.

Oh, sure, there are burgs where you can swap car lanes for bike lanes with abandon.

Portland, say.

Half the population of that eco-obsessed, deodorant-shunning outpost is vegan and the other half raises chickens in their backyards.

It’s a wonder anyone is still allowed to drive there.

But this is Spokane, a carnivorous car town if ever there was one.

We do have an active downtown bicycle culture. Trouble is, it’s made up of inconsiderate felons and punks who think it’s cool to ride their bikes ON THE SIDEWALKS!

One of these cretins nearly nailed me last month.

I was innocently walking to the newspaper’s parking garage when – whoooosh – this two-wheeled terrorist zipped past me from behind, brushing my right arm and nearly spinning me like a top.

I was too stunned to even curse properly.

I’ve never understood the mentality of these concrete cruisers. When I was young I couldn’t wait for my parents to give me permission to ride my bike out onto the asphalt.

That was the true mark of growing up. Only little kids and sissies pedaled around on sidewalks.

These creeps have too much fun terrorizing pedestrians to ever use a bike lane.

Here’s my idea: Let’s scrap all this bike lane banter and concentrate instead on just getting the streets fixed.

Wouldn’t it be swell to enjoy one summer where you could drive downtown without being stalled in a messy construction project or forced to take a detour?

Just imagine the thrill of smooth city streets.

Why, I just might find the energy to brush the dust bunnies off my old Schwinn and take it to work.

Oh, yeah. I’m pretty sure it’ll fit in the back of my Vista Cruiser.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@spokesman.com.

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