Bike lanes are a new-ish concept for my town. So far they are not going over well.
Today’s Tale: That’s not what that’s for.
There’s a road that cuts from Highway 34 to 20th St without stop signs and a new speed limit of 40 miles per hour. Signs call it 65th Avenue, but I call it the best road in town. It has just been overhauled; shiny black pavement, higher speed limit, designated turn lanes and it still provides a quick route through one of the busiest sections of town. I see this road every morning. I know its curves and bumps and the best times to hug one side of the lane or the other to avoid being completely blinded by the sun at 7:00am.
Part of the recent reconstruction of the road included putting in much needed bike lanes. Presumably much needed, I’ve never actually seen a cyclist on this stretch of road. The road was widened and residents well paid for their land just so bikes could safely traverse this part of town. This section of my town was settled by the wealthier members of the “old” town looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown. Then the economic center of the town shifted and now these homes that were once refuge are now in the dead center of where every resident wants to be. The world works in cruel, hilarious ways.
Bike lanes are not really a common feature of roads in my town. It’s more of a “Denver” thing, which is said with a bit of disdain locally. These new features of 65th Avenue are causing great confusion.
As the road is well traveled and beloved by residents, traffic tends to back up. Some folks want to turn left at the light, others forward and a few brave drivers merge right at the highway. For those stuck waiting for another light cycle to move through, 65th is becoming a dangerous place as cars take to the bike lane to move their way through the traffic.
Today a black sedan, I think it was a Ford Focus; small, dented and with a trunk like a Tardis (bigger on the inside), moved down the bike lane to get to the front of the line.
The driver, a mid thirties mother of three, all three children bouncing around the cabin without seatbelts (I’m getting ‘judgy’ today), is called Beverly. Beverly never gave using the bike lane a second thought, she just saw open pavement and moved ahead. It’s how she lives her life though; see the road and take it.
In 2006 she traveled to Spain to take part in a tour of art museums. She knew nothing of art, but that is a poor excuse to miss out on such an opportunity. She needed adventure and new scenery more than she needed to know the difference between impressionism and surrealism. She toured galleries all over the country. She saw portraits in Palma, still lifes in Cadiz, landscapes in Granada, had her haircut in Seville and finally saw masterpieces in Madrid.
Madrid touched her very core. She saw beauty brighter than she thought possible. At a museum featuring artists she knew nothing about, one piece called to her. She had to have it. She had never contemplated art theft before and did not contemplate it at the time either; before she knew it she had lifted a small painting of a wheat field and placed it in her purse. She moved with confidence and remained in plain sight. No one questioned, no one pestered. She possessed a work of brilliance and walked right out the front door with the piece.
There’s much that can be done if one simply remains confident. But one thing remains impossible, even for the brave Beverly; driving in the bike lane does make it a place cars belong. You hear that, Bev? Stay out of the bike lane and wait your turn like the rest of us.
Thanks for reading!