Biking to Work in Decatur Ain’t That Easy

So, here’s my dilemma. I live 1.5 miles from my workplace and 90% of the route is residential with a 30 MPH speed limit. I only have to be on a tiny stretch of a 45 MPH four-lane road along the way. There are no bike paths or bike lanes. The sidewalks along Oakland are sparse.

I would love to ride my ebike, since it’s such a short distance, but crossing Oakland on a bike isn’t safe. Neither is riding along Ravina Park Road, where the speed limit isn’t even treated as a suggestion. People are pushing 50 on a 30 MPH road pretty regularly.

I could ride on the sidewalks, though that’s technically illegal, but I’d still have to cross Oakland and ride along West Harrison, which is a lumpy and bumpy ride along a narrow street.

Until I come up with something, I’m forced to drive a big ol’ SUV 1.5 miles to work every day. I can’t be the only one who would love to ditch their car on nice days. It seems so silly to drive such a short distance. Plus, it’s more fun to ride, and healthier. Well, as long as you don’t get run over.

So, I thought I’d just share what I would LOVE to see happen in Decatur: More bike lanes and more bike paths for practical commuting. Two streets that I think would benefit greatly from a multi-use path (basically a widened sidewalk for both bicycles and pedestrians) are West Main and Ravina Park Road. I’d also love to see such a path along Oakland to safely connect Ravina Park Road and West Main.

Then, I’d love to see a bike lane along West Harrison between Oakland and Monroe. There would also need to be safe crossing on Oakland to reach West Harrison. A crossing similar to what Millikin has on Fairview would work. This would give employees of DMH living in the West End or Home Park the opportunity to ride to work. It would benefit more than just DMH employees, of course, but it would be very practical for commuters.

Decatur does have a Bike Master Plan that you can look over, but it doesn’t have super specific plans for specific roads. However, one of the main goals is making biking to school for kids much safer. Another goal is making work commutes by bike more practical.

Anyway, that’s my dream. For now, I’m just going to get me a scooter that can do about 45 mph and ride to work that way. Maybe it’ll give me the chance at surviving Decatur’s speeding drivers, but it would sure be nice to just ride a bicycle.

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