I realized just how much that Sioux Falls paper has shrunk when I picked up our own hefty local tome, the mighty Madison Daily Leader:
Look at that lovely local rag. Six columns across that front page, a full column wider than the big-city corporate sheet. Font a good point smaller, maybe more. And, at least on the MDL editions before me, no ads on the front page.
But it's not just size that has me all a-gush over my local newspaper. Thursday's print MDL carries yet another remarkably clear and specific editorial from our man Jon Hunter. His latest cri de coeur: bike lanes for Highway 34 through Madison. Yes, lanes, plural, one on each side of the road.
Hunter's reasoning: the city's preferred plan, squeezing a center turn lane between the existing four lanes, will result in traffic flowing as if there were only one lane in each direction. Drivers will find the five lanes "uncomfortably narrow" and won't pass each other (exactly what my wife experienced in town today as she dared not try squeezing the Focus past a cattle truck rolling through town on our main snow-narrowed drag).
...if this pattern is inevitable, let's consider this bold idea: restripe the road as three1 full lanes (one going in each direction and a center turning lane), then stripe a bicycle path near the curb in both directions.
Currently it is very dangerous to ride a bicycle on this section of SD-34, but it could be made much safer under this scenario. We wouldn't expect bicyclists to use it in the winter2, but in summer months it may be well used, especially with the opening of the new waterpark this May on the west end of that stretch.
When empty, the bike path lane could be used as a right-turn lane, with passing traffic shifting slightly into the middle-turn lane to pass the right-turning car.
We ask the city commission and the state DOT to consider this idea as an equally-safe alternative which can also provide an additional service of helping bicycle traffic [Jon Hunter, "If SD-34 Will Be Restriped, Let's Try Something Bolder," Madison Daily Leader, 2009.01.08, p. 3].
Bolder indeed! A clear critique of city action, a specific alternative plan, and an unequivocal call to action—our man Hunter must be reading blogs! Now if we could just strike that editorial we....
It warms my heart to hear such an endorsement of two-wheeled travel from the Madison Daily Leader. I also take great pride in a bulky local broadsheet that will cover more of the floor when I work on my bike than a flimsy sheet of that shrinking Sioux Falls paper.
Two bike lanes for Highway 34—heck of an idea! I was going to rib Hunter over his ironic editorial on letters to the editor, but his bike land editorial is so gosh darn good, I'm giving the good publisher a pass. Happy weekend, Jon... and let's see some bike lanes!
1Yes, those are Jon's italics. Such typographic flair!
2I am the Unexpected™. Biking Brady might visit, too!