where the bike lane meets the sidewalk
I recently wrote about my holiday shopping trip by bike. While I had many cheerful pictures of decorated storefronts and holidays lights to share, I left out another aspect of this shopping trip. Going to Borders, Best Buy, and Aldi meant riding into the ‘business district’ where all the large chain stores and chain restaurants reside. My usual commute is confined to trips from my house, to campus, and to the historic downtown with its quaint neighborhood streets and one street of shops and very limited traffic. The area of town housing the mega chain stores is another beast altogether.
It’s accessible by large (usually four lane) roads that lead to huge parking lots all connected by other parking lots. There are no bikes lanes along these roads. But there are sidewalks! Because there are no bike lanes, it is legal for bikes to use sidewalks in our town (this is not a good thing). But it is good that these sidewalks exist and – having no other option – I was happy to use them. They are generally well lit and well paved and they took me all the way to where I needed to go.
It’s not an ideal bike situation but it’s a very doable and safe one (you’re removed from cars by an actual barrier). And given that it was between 5-7 pm (already getting dark out) and 35 F, I had no pedestrians competing for that sidewalk space with me.
(Honestly, the worst part was the parking lots. With no sidewalks and with cars potentially coming from all sides, I was on super high alert and constantly checking my sides and behind me to make sure drivers noticed me.)
I had always been somewhat intimidated by that side of town. I knew it to have huge roads with heavy traffic and no bike lanes. I wasn’t sure how much of it was made available by a sidewalk. But I’m really glad I just went out there and attempted to ride to my destinations. And it worked. Sometimes you really don’t need a perfect solution, just a viable one. And I’ll take that sidewalk for now, it’s better than nothing at all.