Bike Lanes Aren’t Cutting Edge, They Are a Failed Policy

The City of Minneapolis is busily cutting back on traffic capacity by adding dedicated bicycle lanes, even on heavily traveled thoroughfares like Washington Avenue. One gets the sense that bike lane advocates think they are forward-looking and even cutting edge, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Dedicated bicycle lanes are a hackneyed urban concept that has been tried, and has failed, in cities around the world.

Consider this from Lawrence Solomon in the Financial Post: “Ban the bike! How cities made a huge mistake in promoting cycling.”

Today the bicycle is a mixed bag, usually with more negatives than positives. In many cities, bike lanes now consume more road space than they free up, they add to pollution as well as reducing it, they hurt neighbourhoods and business districts alike, and they have become a drain on the public purse. The bicycle today — or rather the infrastructure that now supports it — exemplifies “inappropriate technology,” a good idea gone wrong through unsustainable, willy-nilly top-down planning.

London, where former mayor Boris Johnston began a “cycling revolution,” shows where the road to ruin can lead. Although criticism of biking remains largely taboo among the city’s elite, a bike backlash is underway, with many blaming the city’s worsening congestion on the proliferation of bike lanes. While bikes have the luxury of zipping through traffic using dedicated lanes that are vastly underused most of the day — these include what Transport for London (TfL) calls “cycle superhighways” — cars have been squeezed into narrowed spaces that slow traffic to a crawl.

Sound familiar? Solomon could be describing Minneapolis.

As a City of London report acknowledged last year, “The most significant impact on the City’s road network in the last 12 months has been the construction and subsequent operation of TfL’s cycle super highway … areas of traffic congestion can frequently be found on those roads.” As Lord Nigel Lawson put it in a parliamentary debate on bicycles, cycle lanes have done more damage to London than “almost anything since the Blitz.”

As a consequence of the idling traffic, pollution levels have risen, contributing to what is now deemed a toxic stew.

There is much more at the link. In Minneapolis, as in London and other cities, the large majority of residents who travel, of necessity, by car are beginning to rebel against the politicians and urban planners who discriminate in favor of bicyclists, to the detriment of everyone else.