Councilor Isaac Benton’s proposal adding language to the City’s Traffic Code banning motor vehicles from bicycle lanes moved a step closer to final enactment at last night’s meeting of the Council’s Land Use, Planning and Zoning (LUPZ) Committee.
On a 4-0 Committee vote, and with voiced endorsement by an Albuquerque Police Department representative, “O-18-14” moves on to the full Council for a planned June 4th discussion and vote. Specifically, the legislation would amend the following in the City’s Traffic Code:
No person shall park a vehicle upon a street, other than an alley, in such a manner or under such conditions as to leave available less than ten feet of the width of the roadway for free movement of vehicular traffic. Bicycle lanes are traffic lanes, therefore, automobile parking or motor vehicle use of a bicycle lane as a driving or passing lane is prohibited.
Added language in bold above.
Primary focus in discussion of the legislation has been on motor vehicles parking in bike lanes, including concerns about on-street parking in residential areas, how the legislation might impact future road design and maintenance projects, and enforcement. Nevertheless, those considerations have, to this point, proven to only be matters for future discussion and clarification.
The other language of the Code amendment, “motor vehicle use of a bicycle lane as a driving or passing lane is prohibited,” is, at least, equally important to the parking provision in its potential to make cycling safer in the City. While enforcement, as always, will be a huge part of making this provision “stick,” enacting what is, in effect, a ban on motor vehicles in bicycle lanes clarifies such lanes as 100% car-free.
I know it’s only a bike lane, and that some bike lanes are skinny and substandard, but making a bit of roadway, however skinny, car-free has a very, very good ring to it. As noted, full City Council consideration of the bill is scheduled for June 4th.