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A few thoughts about the downtown bike lanes

#SpoCOOL / Spokane /

Downtown Spokane is all about its new bike lanes and sharrows and bless it for that. Hey, why not, we like it too; the zoo of having an anarchy of shared lanes downtown was not good. The new bike lane on Howard and the sharrow on Spokane Falls work just fine.

The lane on Main, however, is not good. It almost feels that its implementation was designed to cause accidents.

Here's the issue: You cross Monroe and there are two car lanes, no bike lanes in sight. When you reach the intersection at Lincoln, the "designer" decided to put a bike lane in on the right side of Main, east of Lincoln. It's actually a chunk of the right car lane.

The problem? As it is now, the left lane west of Lincoln lines up with the right lane east of Lincoln, while the east right lane lines up with the new bike lane. Not necessarily a huge issue one would think, but I have been pushed into the bike lane multiple times by drivers who have a problem understanding you need to skew slightly to the left while crossing the intersection to stay in your lane. That is not awesome and, honestly, not 100% the driver's fault either. It's a confusing intersection if you're not used to it.

It doesn't stop there.

At Main and Howard the situation sort of reverses itself. The lanes aren't aligned properly, and you have to skew a hard right to stay in your current lane. The problem here are drivers coming north from Howard, taking a right turn onto Main. If you don't pay proper attention -- and again, this is equally a fault of the design as it is of the driver -- it's easy to think the right lane is open, when it actually is not.

Making the bike line go all the way down Main would help the situation a bit, I'm sure.

So, yes. Bike lanes are great. But only when they're implemented properly.