Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more difficult to drive downtown, it got more difficult. The main street, Division Avenue, used to be four lanes wide, two for northbound and two for southbound. The lanes were very skinny though, and you risked scraping your car against the cars in the parking lane. The road could not be widened, as the century-old buildings were built up to the sidewalk, and the sidewalk up to the street curb. Delivery trucks would park half-way in the driving lanes and unload during morning rush hour, much to the annoyance of other drivers. Almost constant road repairs hindered the traffic flow. Water mains and sewer pipes frequently needed fixing. The asphalt surface kept developing potholes. For the better part of the year, drivers played dodge-ball with mammoth sinkholes.
Several years ago the city decided they had found a solution for our four skinny lanes – turn them into two lanes, one for each direction, with a left-turn lane at intersections. Adjacent to the the driving lanes they created bike lanes, since cycling downtown had increased. Ah, at last we could drive in a lane wide enough to not bump into anyone! But due to the peculiarities of the street, the bike lane would, in places, abruptly stop because there wasn’t enough room for it, so the cyclists would suddenly merge into the car lane, then the bike lane would begin again and all was well. It was – and still is – an awkward arrangement that mystifies first-time drivers to the downtown. The rest of us have gotten used to it. Other streets in the downtown area have been modified to add bike lanes, which is a good idea on some of the streets, but the chronic poor conditions of the roads make them difficult to bike on. (The streets by the government offices are the exception, with quality concrete and nice wide lanes.)
This morning, over my cup of coffee and oatmeal, I read that the city has decided it will now allow people to skateboard in the traffic lanes. In fact, if you feel like rollerskating or rollerblading in the traffic with cars, that’s okay too. What??? Were the seven city commissioners who unanimously voted for this sober when they made the decision? We still have recurring potholes, pavement cracks, endless road repairs, pedestrians that just walk into the road whenever they feel like it, and bikes darting in and out of the car lanes. Do we really want to add skateboarders to the mix of things to watch out for when we’re driving?
Here’s the link to the story:
This is going to be a legal nightmare for the city the first time that a 15-year-old kid is rollerblading or skateboarding in the street, wipes out because of some bad cracks or a sinkhole he/she didn’t see in time, and gets hit by the car behind him. The driver of the car will see their insurance premiums go up because they hit him/her. The police will make money off the citations, and the hospital/doctor’s office will get more business. Come to think of it, maybe this whole thing is just set up to be a moneymaker from the start…