The Case of the Disappearing Bike Lanes

West Lafayette isn’t a bad place to ride a bike, but not because of a useful and ubiquitous bike lane system.

For some people, the lack of separate lanes for bikes means they don’t ride – or they use the sidewalks. This is unfortunate, because the city has light traffic on all but a few main thoroughfares, and most auto drivers act properly around those of us on bikes. Still, when bike lanes are removed, safe ridership will drop.

I’ve complained before about the lanes on Salisbury, Lindberg, and northern Grant streets before. Sure, they are painted there, but they are also used for parking, as sidewalks (on Lindberg), and for trash and brush to be picked up. I would rather just take the lane than have to swerve in and out to avoid the many obstacles. For many that I see, the sidewalks once again become the path of choice.

Tree stump blocking bike lane

(circa April, 2008)

With the repaving of SR26 through Lafayette and West Lafayette, the result has been that the bike lanes on State, Sheetz, and Wood streets were not repainted. It is hard to say why. Was it a conscious decision by the state or city? Not likely. Instead, were lanes just not considered by the engineers? Probably.

No bike lane on State Street

No Bike Lane

Another option is that the folks that painted the lines just forgot them. That crew did a pretty poor job overall, with copious spray paint sloppily marking where things should go and what my son calls an ‘messy job’ of applying the paint. Take a look at the arrows on Wood St at Grant for an example.

Poorly painted arrows on street

Sloppy Paint Job

These guys also mispainted turn lane lines in both of the intersections where two lanes turn in the same direction. The errant lines at Wood and Chauncey were crudely covered over and corrected, and I hope the same is done at Northwestern and State.

But I digress … what will it take to return the lanes to these near campus streets? Perhaps when the city takes ownership next year, they will rethink bike traffic. I hope so.

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