4th Street S.W. Striping: What the Hell is That?

If you’ve driven/ridden/walked along 4th St. between Downtown and Bridge Blvd. recently, you’ve noticed the new, ongoing paving and striping job. Riding yesterday, BB came upon what might be final striping.

4th St. mystery buffer
Look northbound along 4th St. S.W. at Santa Fe Ave. S.W.

I didn’t stop to precisely measure, but that pair of skinny white stripes is roughly 2.5 feet wide if you count each and every inch of white stripe. Every inch. Looking down from my bike, the entire space is as wide as one’s handlebars. Maybe.

To quote Steve Martin/Bill Murray is one of my all-time favorite SNL skits, “What the Hell is that?” Is it a bike lane? Is it a “door-zone buffer” to skinny the driving lane on what is supposed to be 25 mph speed limited 4th St.?

Strongest evidence so far is that it’s not for bikes, but for driver-side doors, as indicated by the sudden loss of striping at Santa Fe Avenue. It is worth noting in that regard that the striping starts right back up at a bus stop (look closely above), so it’s true purpose is still a bit murky.

De-murkification will only occur when/if the way the Hell too skinny for bike lane striping is filled in with horizontal cross-hatching. Long, long story, but BB has two factoids regarding all this stemming from having sat in “Complete Streets Review Committee” meetings where maintenance jobs like this, Mountain (have you seen it lately between 12th and Rio Grande, and others around town were discussed.

Factoid #1: The “Review Committee” came away from its session on 4th St. with the agreed plan to put bike lanes, 3 ft. bike lanes (don’t ask), along this stretch.

Factoid #2: The City’s Street Department (Department of Municipal Development) told aforementioned Committee that it doesn’t like/can’t horizontally stripe double stripes like the above when they are under three feet in width. Something about money/machinery/hand-painting/money.

These factoids are perhaps instructive, but, to be honest, I have no idea what the Hell those stripes will be called are supposed to be, and I was “on the Committee.” So much for being “on the Committee.”

As a near daily rider along this stretch of 4th in Barelas, I must admit the thought crossed my mind riding it yesterday that a driver (of course going at/under the proscribed 25 mph speed limit) behind me probably would strongly think/feel I should get the Hell over and “ride in that ******* bike lane ********,” or something to that effect. One hopes the City will, if the striping is truly meant for parking driver door-zones, overcome its aversion to horizontally striping really narrow double-stripes, despite the cost, etc.

But with the striping continuing through that bus stop…I don’t what the Hell it is. I do know it sure as Hell ain’t a Complete Streets/Development Process Manual-compliant bike lane. Not be a long shot.





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