A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

How useful are bike lanes? Take a look

Written January 8th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

A sunny and mild day in January, a welcome break from recent rains: What better time for a little demonstration of how bike lanes make cycling more feasible on roads that carry a lot of cars and trucks.

What’s a busy road is different from city to city, I understand that. Our traffic is nothing like in Seattle and Portland, obviously, and even less than in Salem. But around here, Santiam Highway and Pacific Boulevard — or US 20 as it goes through town —  are the busiest we have.

So join me for a few minutes’ ride on Santiam and Pacific, from Bain Street to Sherman Street, on Friday afternoon:

Traffic was relatively mild, but you get the idea.

Don’t let anyone tell you that bike lanes are a waste of money and road space. They make car-bike collisions less likely, enough so that a cyclist can have a reasonable amount of confidence that (fingers crossed) he won’t be run over from behind. (hh)

25 responses to “How useful are bike lanes? Take a look”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    You could have stopped and done a little shopping at 4:08 in.
    Maybe a video transition from 9th & Geary over to Pacific for your next video?

  2. M. Richner says:

    Bike lanes are a waste of (taxpayer) money and road space. No one told me that, it’s my own opinion. I rarely see anyone riding a bicycle around Albany, even in nice weather. How can we find out the truth of the matter? Perhaps a cost-benefit inquiry? On the other hand, I’m fond of Hasso, so don’t mind voluntarily contributing personal resources to support his pleasure in riding around town.

    On the other hand, it would be nice if more of the potholes that abound in Albany were repaired.

    • Mike says:

      I see roads all of the time without any cars on them. What a waste of time and money. Just my opinion! :)
      It’s wonderful that Albany has so many great bike lanes. Not only do they provide safer passage around town for bikes, but they also provide a buffer between pedestrians and moving vehicles. This makes it safer for all people to get around town. I’m glad that Albany is a Bike Friendly City.

    • Cuyler Stuwe says:

      Bike lanes aren’t particularly expensive, nor do they consume space that could actually be used for anything else useful.

      The only legal alternative to a bike lane in Oregon is to ride in a lane of car traffic (it’s actually not legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk at a pace faster than a walking pace).

      So if you ever get stuck behind a slow moving cyclist on a road that doesn’t have a bike lane, remind yourself that you advocated to put yourself in that situation.

    • Jeff Senders says:

      I call bullshit.

      I live on Riverside Drive and have personally witnessed several close calls that would have been tragic without the assistance of the recent road widening project for bicyclists. Even with the “bike lane”, I try to time my passing so it doesn’t coincide with oncoming traffic–especially with the many hay hauling semi’s that overhang the line.

      As far as the potholes go I have to agree with you there.

    • sonamata says:

      Some interesting history related to your point of view – “”Roads were not built for cars”: how cyclists, not drivers, first fought to pave US roads”: https://www.vox.com/2015/3/19/8253035/roads-cyclists-cars-history

  3. Kathy Rogers says:

    Be careful out there!

  4. thomas earl cordier says:

    HH– I see storm water grates with their open spaces parallel with your direction.
    Are you concerned about your front tire going thru the slit?? Several years ago that happened to some guy in Albany. Not good outcome.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      As far as I can tell the sewer grates have crossbars as well so tires should not get stuck. But I make sure I never ride over them.

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        I’ve not seen storm grates that one has to seriously worry about. I have skinny tires on my bike, so I still try to miss them because you “feel” much less control.

        You still may experience them in older parking lots etc. I had 1st hand experience dropping my rear wheel in one while staying at a motel in Idaho. I missed with the front, but…. Sad part is was on a set of wheels I’d built myself with < 30 miles on them. It deformed the metal slightly, but I didn't even have to open up the brake clearance. Wheel is still on the bike.

    • Greg S says:

      It would be nice if the storm grates could be rotated so the grates were perpendicular to the direction travel instead of parallel to it. I couldn’t tell if they were square or rectangular in shape – certainly not a high priority for the City at this time.

  5. DAVE says:

    Riding that bike everyday for years must mean your vitals are Hassom.
    Curious if you do your own maintenance.

  6. Teresa says:

    Interesting perspective seeing the ride for your view of the road and traffic. Thank you.

  7. Warren Beeson says:

    I noticed that during the entire ride there was a totally unused wide, smooth concrete sidewalk just a few feet to your right. Not one single walker. How about bikes sharing the smooth concrete sidewalk with (very few if any) pedestrians instead of the far more dangerous street with cars and trucks?

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Think how irritated drivers would get if you riding on the sidewalk with a perfectly good bike lane being unused.

      It’s illegal.

      That said, when heading South on Waverly or Geary I’ll use the sidewalk instead of that LONG R. turn lane to head West on Queen. Being an “old guy” with severe COPD and a prevailing headwind from the South, I’d be working near a heart attack to do 5-6 MPH. I’d like to think the cars that WOULD have had to follow me appreciate it. OTOH, I’m sure that many are TOO STUPID to realize that OTHERWISE they legally have to just follow me, no matter how slow I am. What’s your pick of the two?

  8. John Klock says:

    1. In an age of climate change–bike lanes will be the norm.
    2. In age of obese America–bike lanes will be the norm.
    3. In the age of irate drivers addicted to their cars and trucks –bike lanes build community.
    4. Traffic everywhere, pavement as far as the eye can see, loss of biodiversity, long lines–bike lanes work.
    Kudos to the HH for keeping this on the forefront of people’s minds.

  9. Bob Woods says:

    Thanks Hasso.

  10. Karl J Kuessel says:

    I noticed the storm drain covers were oriented in the wrong direction. They were just waiting to catch some unsuspecting cyclist’s tires. (Take a look at the next story — ed.)

  11. Jodi Christensen says:

    I ride my bike all over Albany spring through the end of summer. I am very grateful for roads that have bike lanes. Drivers are too unpredictable and it can be unnerving on roads without bike lanes. Some drivers just get too close. It also seems many people need a course in car vs bicycle rules. There have been a few incidents where I have gone through an intersection with a green light and a car in a turning lane came close to hitting me. Makes me wonder, do these people know that bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same right away?

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Being in a bike lane is no guarantee. Look at the striping in the S. bound lane between Freddies & Queen. I’d like to see a few reflective “bumps” like used to separate same direction lanes to use as a “rumble strip” to get drivers’ attention.

      Another problem area is on Oak between 9th & 14th. The road has an “ESS”, but drivers want to go straight. Also vehicles pulling out of Lowes parking lot tend to swing into the BL. I’ve had a couple that have put their whole tire into the lane while in close proximity. They simply don’t look for a bicycle until they are nearly running us down.

  12. Terrence Virnig says:

    Hasso. Nice piece. Been there. Done that. There is a bit of a feeling of elan getting out there.

    terry Virnig Albany Bicycle and Pedestrian Commision


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