Here's why the new Downtown Kalamazoo bike lanes are dangerous and how to fix them.

Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled that Downtown Kalamazoo is frequently looking for new ways to improve our experience and increase safety for bike riders and pedestrians.  However, the confusion the new bike lanes have caused has very little to do with drivers getting used to the change and more to do with the clunky design.

Let me first show you an example of a simple system that seems far safer.  Below is a photo of a street in Downtown Indianapolis.  The order of the lanes is as follows: Sidewalk, Bike Lanes (for both directions), motorized vehicle parking, then motorized vehicle lanes.

Dana Marshall
Dana Marshall

Now taking a look at a street in Downtown Kalamazoo, you have a sidewalk, motorized vehicle parking, one-way bike lane, and motorized vehicle lanes.

Wood TV 8 - Kalamazoo
Wood TV 8 - Kalamazoo

There are two major differences here that make the design in Indianapolis both safer and more user-friendly than in Kalamazoo.

  1.  In Indianapolis, motorized vehicles do not have to cross the bike lane to park.
  2.  Each bike lane in Indy is two-way making it far easier to navigate through the downtown area on a bicycle.

Wood TV 8 recently drove down Westnedge Ave in Downtown Kalamazoo while filming.  What they found was both alarming and not surprising at the same time.  Vehicles were driving in both the parking lane and the bike lane.

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I cannot stress enough, that we are lucky to have a city that cares enough to make these efforts to make navigating around the downtown area safer.  However, I hope these simple suggestions do not fall on deaf ears.

Be safe out there.

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The Overflow Mountain Bike Trail, Copper Harbor

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