Updated: Nov 15, 2011 9:52 PM CST
New traffic lanes intended to keep bike riders safe are causing confusion, near misses and even crashes for the riders and the cars trying to avoid them.
On a recent afternoon, one bike rider had a Ford Explorer zoom by, missing by a few feet, then just a second later, another car hits the brakes to avoid hitting him, trapping the driver of an SUV, who also hits the brakes and tries to move over. The bike rider made it through the gauntlet of vehicles on North Illinois Street.
“I don’t think they labeled this bike lane very well enough,” said resident Philip Mitchell.
From his front porch, Mitchell has a front row seat to the daily show of the “Driver vs. Bike Lane Theater.”
“A wreck almost every day,” he said. “See, watch this guy, he doesn’t know what to do.”
The problem, for drivers, is partially the learning curve, coupled with a narrower travel lane.
“Oh! They are confusing. I mean, first you’re in one lane, then all of a sudden, it is a bike lane, you’ve got to switch over real quick,” said one driver.
“There is not only too much confusion, it is too tight here. It is not safe,” said another driver.
It’s the same story with parking on the street. The old travel lanes used to be 12 feet wide, now they are 10 feet, with two feet for the bikes, and the bike lane meanders in and out of traffic.
An area painted green is designated as a merger of both bikes and cars, which is where the problems occur and the weaving in and out.
“There is definitely a lot of confusion in certain areas. Right up here at the turn lane, it just ends,” said .
Drivers and riders have had weeks to get used to the changes. But judging from the number of close calls, Mitchell is guaranteed a nightly show.
“Nobody gets it,” he said.
Eyewitness News tried to contact the person in charge of the bike lanes project for the city Tuesday, but have not gotten a response about how the city plans to address the confusion.