It’s quite evident to today’s cyclist that our transportation system is designed with the automobile driver in mind. Millions have been spent on roads, highways and other infrastucture for the motorist, but very little in comparison for people that prefer or need to travel under their own power. Bicycle advocates often have to work hard just to get basic transportation infrastructure that is safe and gets people where they need to go. Because we often get so little, it’s frustrating when it’s taken away from us from a group that already has way more than its fair share.
Carson City has long had bike paths along Highway 50, leaving Carson City to the east. These bike paths are the primary way to travel by bike when heading east or west, to and from Carson City. They provide a safe area to ride that separates the cyclist from 50mph traffic, and connect neighborhoods, schools, parks, and shopping. In addition to the cyclists of all ages that use these paths, walkers and disabled citizens also rely on this route.
People have recently come to me with complaints of businesses and customers along Highway 50 using the bike paths as parking. When a car is parked in the path, often for no good reason, since there is usually alternative parking, the path user is forced off into the dirt, gravel, or mud. And depending on the weather or what bike your riding, it can be no easy task to navigate this terrain. At the very least, extremely inconvenient. For the person in a wheelchair, it may be impossible to get around a car on the path.
The city has been receptive to complaints from users of the bike route, and has even taken steps to provide better signage along the path, even reminding motorists that there is a fine for misuse. I rode down the paths recently to see the situation for myself, and it didn’t take long before my way was blocked by a parked car. The car was even parked under one of the new signs that the city just installed. And once again this weekend, I had to navigate around another parked car, riding through the mud to do so.
I believe there is some education that needs to take place for people to better understand what they’re doing wrong. It seems to be understood that we don’t park our cars in red zones, in front of fire hydrants, or in reserved parking spaces, but for some reason it seems acceptable to block a bike path. From what I’ve heard, some businesses are even angry that they’ve been told the bike lanes aren’t for parking, and said they’d fight it if further measures were taken. It’s hard to understand this though, as there is often a dirt shoulder to park on right next to the bike path. There seems to be room to accommodate everyone.
This story is still unfolding, so it’s anyone’s guess how it will progress; however, as fuel prices and unemployment continue to rise, we will certainly see an increased use of alternative transportation like biking and walking. And we mustn’t forget our friends in wheelchairs that simply have no other method of getting around than these paths. I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume they don’t know the trouble they’re causing by obstructing the paths.
A couple of the photos above are mine, and others were sent to me by Carson City residents. Have you had problems with cars blocking bike paths in Carson City? Let me know, and please send me photos if you have them. What do you think would be the best way to educate these motorists?
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