Q Green bike lanes have GOT to be the most outrageous idea of all. We hear the state crying for money every day. I want to know just what rat hole the money came from to coat the roads with thick layers of green paint for bike rider safety? Who is going to maintain these ugly wide stripes after a few seasons of weather? I can see having maybe a foot-wide strip, but this is just crazy.
I have great respect for the safety of any bike rider. But many people are multi-tasking while driving as you have said many times in your column. That is the problem, and no green markings are going to alert those people.
Thanks for letting me vent.
A It's good to vent, but a number of folks weighed in -- some with venom -- on the green bike lanes that are spreading across the Bay Area.
Q I have nothing against green bike lanes. I'm sure when I'm riding my bike I'll feel a bit safer if I'm in a green lane. But, our cities, counties, states and country are bankrupt. Is this the best use of that last dollar? How many potholes could be filled with that money? There are lots of feel-good things to do, by the government and in my house, but when money is tight it's important to set priorities.
A Money is tight, but
How much will go for bicycling upgrades? A mere $165 million or about 1 percent of the total to fund 80 projects over that time span. Nationally, less than 2 percent of a projected $109 billion, two-year funding plan is earmarked for bicycling and pedestrian projects.
As for the green bike lanes in Santa Clara, that effort will cost about $85,000.
Q I have no problem with more bike lanes -- but I have a huge problem that bicyclists don't pay for them. We, the car drivers, do. ... If bicyclists paid a registration fee to pay for their own lanes, fine. But they don't. ... You neglected to tell us who is paying for these wonder green bike lanes. My guess is that it is not the bike rider.
Frank Rios, T. Baxter and several more
A Actually, almost all bike riders do help pay for road improvements. The money comes from countywide sales taxes approved by voters, the state sales tax, vehicle registration fees and the federal gas tax. I bet 99.9 percent of all bicyclists also drive, and when they fill up their tank with gas, they are helping pay for bike lanes. And, of course, they pay through a sales tax.
Consider this: While 12 percent of all trips in the San Jose area are made by walking or bicycling, only 1.6 percent of federal transportation dollars go toward bike and pedestrian projects. One could argue that bike and pedestrian projects are underfunded.
And safety officials say every $1 invested in bicycling and pedestrian improvements saves $3.40 in health care expenses by increasing active transportation options and improving public health.
Q Is there any evidence that green bike lanes, the many pedestrian-bike overpasses now being built and other enhancements are actually getting more people to bike?
A Yep. San Francisco reports a 71 percent increase in bicycling over the past five years. San Jose says bicycling has increased 50 percent over the past four years.
Q My 10-year-old son and I bike to school and work. We keep getting mixed messages from school crossing guards depending on which corner we're at. Are we supposed to get off our bikes and walk across? Sometimes one will ask us to get off our bikes and walk. Of course, I want to be a good rule follower for my 10-year-old. What's the right thing to do?
A Walk. Most police agencies advise crossing guards to tell those with bikes to walk them across the street.