After posting the news about the predicted fight over the proposed Multi-User Path (or MUP) along Kinnear and Waltham today, it occurred to me that my messages about bike infrastructure aren't entirely coherent at times. So this is an attempt to iron some of those issues out.
Obviously, anyone who's read this blog for a while can tell you that I'm against bike lanes and sharrows (bike lanes more than sharrows, but I'm not in favor of either). In my opinion, they make drivers think that "roads are for cars" by seemingly designating where cyclists are "supposed to be" (whereas the intention is quite the opposite). And bike lanes coax riders onto the road with an illusion of safety that simply isn't there.
But bike paths... that's a different and interesting monster altogether.
So let's define a bike path - or in this case a multi-use path. They're paved paths that are free of motorized vehicles by design. Simply put, that's about all there is to it.
And many folks use the paths for transportation, though they most certainly weren't created for that purpose (otherwise, we'd have more east-west routes to go along with the multitude of north-south routes in Columbus). They're designed for recreation right now.
Creating a connector for MUPs, especially between OSU and Upper Arlington, is a great idea. It'll allow people to get around more easily, and those who don't want to ride in the streets for whatever reason can do so. It's another great transportation option.
If they're used properly, and that means cyclists not flying out of control, walkers staying to the right, and everyone using them following the rules (no dogs on the paths, etc.), then they're a great way for people to get around safely and quietly. Quite frankly, I like taking the paths on occasion - it gets me away from the traffic noise and the bubbly seething cauldron of road rage that is rush hour.
And they don't lessen the position of cyclists on the streets because they're not part of the streets - they're independent of the streets.
So that's my manifesto of bike paths. What's your opinion of them - do they serve us well as commuter cyclists, or should we always stick to the streets?
People, not speed.