I was driving a child to a hockey game last winter in the oh so urban twin of the Twin Cities and I ran into a Bike Lane Traffic Jam.
I was traveling along N. Dowling Avenue in Minneapolis about 5:30 pm on a weeknight when I ran into a line of cars. It was winter. The hockey game was for my five year old, who with his bag, was in the back. Cars were stacked in a line in one lane at each light on Dowling waiting four changes of each traffic light before they could proceed through the intersection. The street used to be two lanes going both ways, now it is one lane and a bike path. Funny I didn't see any bikes. We are told that bikes are part of the multi-modal transportation as the Government Class pats us on the head whilst taking money out of our pocket. Transportation bikes may have been in Mao's China but on a cold winter night with a five year old, a hockey bag and twenty miles of driving, bike lanes are the invisible reason a twenty minute trip takes forty and people going to and from work and their families and one hockey game are stuck in traffic.
Thomas More said, "Never was there a heretic that spoke all false." While it is not all false bikes are transportation, so are rollerblading, river punting and cross country skiing. However you wouldn't want to build a transportation plan around them. It is not all false that at some times and some places bikes have been transportation, like the aforementioned Maoist China or post-war Belgium (I'm seeing a fully habited-out nun on a bike with a basket with a loaf of French, well I guess Belgian, bread). Bikes were transportation in those places and times because of failed Communist enconomics or destroyed war economies respectively. But even they got over it. Now, in newly capitalized China and modern oh so cool Europe, the citizens have leaned their bike up against a stone fence and jumped in to cars with willful abandon. It is also not all false that before 1908, bikes were transportation in the civilized world. Then the first Model T rolled off the line. Cool. Goodbye bikes hello freedom and pink Cadallacs on Wisconsin nights.
Proponets of the Cleveland bike lane say we (that's a little generous) need a North-South bike route across the City. Well so do we (I mean everyone) need a North-South car route. As my wife pointed out, with the building of a brand new neighborhood at the Ford Plant site, that need will be greater than ever. There are only two reasonable routes from the site to the North part of the City, to University Aveneue and I-94: Cretin and Cleveland. Why would the City want to clog up those arteries with less car lanes and more bikes lane (and occasional bikes)? There's irony somewhere that the City develops a neighboorhood on the very spot where cars and trucks were manufactured for a century and then hinders the new neighbors from traveling in cars and trucks because of bikes lanes.