Ingersoll Bicycle Lane

Ingersoll Streetscape and Bike LaneIngersoll Streetscape and Bike LaneThe sky isn't falling!

With just over a month's worth of experience (in time for "Bike to Work Week"), Des Moines drivers and bicyclists seem to be adapting (with a few exceptions) to the lane revisions on Ingersoll.

My thoughts as a regular Ingersoll driver:

  • It is harder to make a left-hand turn onto Ingersoll from a side street or parking lot. With one lane of automobile traffic, the line of moving cars is longer and one must wait a little longer to cross over to the opposite lane.
  • The new lane striping makes drivers more conscientious. I see drivers being more cautious about entering traffic (and feel more cautious myself) - people are taking more time to look for cyclists?. Perhaps we just aren't used to the changes and things will go back to normal behavior in a few months.
  • Drivers are operating their cars more slowly. The new striping encourages slower driving. I'm sure this is a source of frustration to people who are used to weaving in and out of cars on a two-lane Ingersoll. It is actually better for business in a pedestrian-oriented district. However, the large plantings between traffic and the buildings partially negate this benefit because people in the slower-moving cars can't see signage and into the businesses.
  • Drivers don't know how to use a center turn lane correctly. Inevitably, a driver new to center turn lanes stops in (or halfway in) the traffic lane to wait for a left turn opportunity.
  • It doesn't take a whole lot longer to drive the length of Ingersoll. After reading some of the comments at dmregister.com, you'd think it now takes an hour and a half to drive two miles on Ingersoll. In reality, I haven't noticed a major difference (except for the left turn onto Ingersoll and for a few minutes during rush hour) from before. News flash: successful pedestrian commercial districts get crowded. People learn to expect it and plan accordingly. In fact, slowing cars down gives drivers the opportunity to notice the businesses on either side of the street! A "layered" space with pedestrians, cars, bikes, occupied outdoor spaces, and businesses lining the street is what we want for Ingersoll.

My thoughts as a biker (I have biked the length of Ingersoll several times and at several times of the day):

  • Some bikers are misusing (or simply "missing") the bike lanes. I have seen bikers riding in the right-side parking/turning lane to the right of the bike lane. This is confusing to drivers, who should be trained to look for bikers between the lines of the bike lane.
  • I feel safer. Whatever mode of transportation one is using, a safe street is all about consistent expectations - it's why we have traffic laws, road signs, and striping. The bike lane adds a layer of expectation and allows a bike rider to assert him or herself as a legitimate user of the road. I am an assertive, but not aggressive biker and find a good balance on Ingersoll now.
  • There are a variety of users During my use of Ingersoll so far, I have seen a broad spectrum of bike riders from elderly women to families to commuters. Some people have had baskets, and have obviously done some shopping on Ingersoll businesses.

The new lane arrangement will enhance the redevelopment of Ingersoll as a pedestrian business district. During this redevelopment there may be some pain - for drivers, bikers, residents, and businesses - as we all figure out how to "navigate" the change. Ultimately, this is the direction that we need to be moving as a City and as a society.

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