Council: No to Downtown Bike Lanes
Adding them would be too dangerous, the Canton City Council said Thursday night.
Canton won't be adding bike lanes downtown.
"My opinion," city engineer Joby West told the council Thursday night, "we should not try to squeeze any bike lanes around the downtown loop."
Last month, she said an officer "hollered at me" to ride on the street, not the sidewalk.
"I understand that if I do so in the future, that I could incur a $20 fine for doing so," she wrote in an email to council members on April 4. "I could also be fined for allowing my 9-year-old daughter to do the same. And that's where my initial concern comes from: I will not allow my inexperienced 9-year-old daughter to ride her bicycle in traffic."
She suggested the city create downtown bike lanes.
"All it will take is some paint and a few signs," she said in that April 4 email. "This is an inexpensive solution to a very important safety concern."
Thursday night, the city's engineer and council members said adding bike lanes would bring their own set of safety concerns.
West said he researched cities of comparable sizes and reviewed studies that showed the likelihood of injuries and fatalities when downtown bike lanes were added.
Council member John Beresford said he conducted "a couple of test runs" of his own, pulling in and out of downtown's parking spaces, which are at a 45-degree angle.
"A number of cars were swerving out of my lane because you can't see anything when you back out until you actually get out in the lane," Beresford said. "If you had somebody on a bicycle coming down, you're looking for a car as best you can and there is a tendency that you won't see a biker. And to me, it's very dangerous and I just see that that would be a major handicap for the pedestrians downtown, for the shoppers downtown, for anything else to be able to try to squeeze in bikers downtown. It's bad enough backing up without having bikers."
Council member Bob Rush agreed with Beresford.
"It's utterly dangerous," he said. "If you had no parking, perhaps you could have a bike lane. With parking on both sides of the street," he said, "it's difficult."
Mayor Gene Hobgood said he didn't see how the city could "retrofit" downtown to accommodate bike lanes and cyclists.