Our downtown routes use Walnut Street, one block west of the official Grand Avenue dedicated, unprotected bike lanes that were over seven years in the making.
In the spirit of always searching for a better route and always questioning the existing routes, I reconsidered whether we were right–whether Walnut beats Grand. And after all, a lot of time, energy and money was spent on the Grand Avenue lanes. Grand is a wider street. It’s the official way to go. So I did what we do: I got on my bike. I rode the streets in traffic.
And yeah no, Grand stinks.
It’s a bone-rattling, frame shattering ride. The condition of the pavement is simply dreadful. And it’s not from potholes, but from endless street cuts and terrible patch jobs. In many places, the utility covers are several inches below the street surface–a kind of intentional, permanent pothole. So unless the intent was to create a bike slalom course, this street should never have been considered until repaved curb to curb.
And of course there is no maintenance of the painted lane markers, which are now badly faded and incomplete. Apparently it’s acceptable to pour a big pad of concrete and simply ignore the need to re-stripe for the bike lanes.
At several intersections, the bike markings completely disappear and it’s not at all clear where a cyclist is supposed to be once they arrive at the other side of the intersection.
I know we have ambitions to climb the rankings of cycling friendly cities, and I’m optimistic that someday we will, but I’d suggest that until we’re serious about doing better, that someone from the city go down and power wash this mess away.
So is Walnut a great route? No. But it’s better than Grand, and our routes that use it stand unchanged for now.