Westlane Road in northwestern Washington Township was among the first in the county to feature bicycle lanes. On a few recent car trips that way, I have noticed a large number of citizens walking on or near the bike lane. Unfortunately, my instinct as a driver is at first a hot-headed “those people are crazy”, followed by a more measured “those people have no other option.” And here is why:
Westlane road has no sidewalks along its entire length. It’s a staggeringly common occurrence in this part of the inner suburbs. The area that surrounds it also has a rather large population. According to the 2010 Census, there are over 15,000 people living in the adjacent Census tracts. A quick look at the buildings also show us a large number of apartment complexes in the area. It’s not hard to conceive of the notion that there are people living in this area without the means to afford a car.
Allisonville Road has a similar story, a bike lane without sidewalks, which is destined to attract pedestrians who have no other choice:
I applaud the bike lanes as a general rule, as anything that can give people another option of transportation is usually supported on this blog. However, it is also important that we complete the streets for all users. I know that sidewalks are expensive and require more infrastructure than striping bike lanes, but what kind of city are we when we fail to also provide a space for the most basic form of transportation?