A recent Jeff Outhit column in the Waterloo Region Record suggests that the designated bike lane may have dropped off the radar of Waterloo Region transportation planners and politicians.
According to Outhit, regional council recently approved a revision to its cycling facility construction standards to encourage the addition of extra pavement in certain areas, but not dedicated bicycle lanes. The logic was that it is easier to add 65 centimetres of extra asphalt at the curb, than to add the 1.5 metres of space needed for a full bike lane.
Don Pavey, chair of the regional cycling advisory committee, is quoted by Outhit as saying, "In a perfect world, I would look on it as a disappointment."
I agree, but wide lanes are as useful to cyclists as bicycle lanes. You could even argue that wide lanes are better than bike lanes. Wide lanes, generally, are too narrow for hot-rodders to pass regular vehicular traffic on the right, while bike lanes often provide enough space for them to do so. Bike lanes often become the repository of the flotsam of the road, while wide lanes are generally plowed or swept right up to the curb.
OK, those are pretty weak arguments. Outhit supposes that transportation funds should be spent on roads, not bike lanes, since few people cycle, and of those, few use either roads or bike lanes, preferring to use recreational trails, sidewalks or gym club spin classes.
As much as Outhit's pro-auto columns irk me, I admit to my own frustration at seeing cyclists using sidewalks instead of bike lanes. Although I do believe that a comprehensive network of bicycle lanes would nurture a cycling culture, even in Waterloo Region, it is not an easy position to defend.