Yesterday I attended the Grand Opening of the new South Park Bridge. South Park is a neighborhood in Seattle on the other side of the Duwamish River from Georgetown. I lived there for almost 14 years and know how important this link is to the community. I was happy to see the bridge finally open.
Bicycle, pedestrian and transit advocates often criticize road projects for their focus on individual car travel. The South Park Bridge will benefit trucks, buses, emergency services, as well as single occupancy motor vehicles, and has some significant improvements over the bridge it replaced. The sidewalks are much safer and there are marked bike lanes on both sides of the bridge.
But here is the thing that makes no sense to me. To the right of the bike lane, the area that is supposed to be safe for bicyclists to ride, there is a giant impact absorber.
This is a city street with, at this time, a 30 mph speed limit. Someone decided that, just in case drivers veer out of their lane and drive through the bike lane, they should be protected from a high-impact, high speed collision by this impact absorbing device. People inside steel cages with seat belts and air bags.
You on the bike… good luck. And wear your helmet… is this the message our infrastructure should send?