On the redundancy of bike lane protection

KOB has aired the City of Albuquerque’s explanation for the removal of the flexposts and other effluvia on Fourth Street that, for a bright and shining moment, represented the vanguard of protected bicycle lanes in Albuquerque:

They say there are already signs on the light post banning parking in the bike lane there so it made the protective barriers redundant.

“Redundant” is an interesting word here, because, in the world of engineering, redundancy can be a feature, not a bug: “containing duplicated parts such that its function is not impaired in the event of failure of a part”. (OED)

The pictures below are our reminder of why we here at Better Burque were excited at the “redundancy” – because without enforcement or some other more emphatic message that these are really truly super duper honest bicycle lanes (bollards!), the signs by themselves don’t work. Here is one of the city of Albuquerque’s own trucks a block up from our late, lamented protected bike lane on Fourth Street, parked right next to one of the “no parking” signs!

Albuquerque city planning department pickup, parked in a bike lane next to a
Albuquerque city planning department pickup, parked in a bike lane next to a “no parking bike lane” sign

As Scot has written before, this stretch of roadway is far from the most important case study for this issue – a street that was never particularly problematic for cyclists sans bike lanes. But the city’s decision to put protection for cyclists there made it “worthy of preservation as a historic toe-dip into a roadway feature that can, and should, be installed in places all over the area.”

So no, the loss of this one block doesn’t cripple Albuquerque’s bicycling network. But the city’s acknowledgment that “no parking” signs are as far as we’re willing to go sends a signal that we don’t really care about bike lanes as more than lines on a map.

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3 thoughts on “On the redundancy of bike lane protection

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