Kudos to the cycling community for getting their voice heard. The move to re-stripe state Route 86 between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake at the bequest of cycling enthusiasts to allow them space to bike along the highway is a step in the right direction by the state Department of Transportation - but it could have fatal consequences.
Cyclists, especially those from out of town, will hear of this move and think "now we can ride that stretch of highway." But it might be a road to catastrophe. The worst thing that can happen is that the relining is thought of as an opportunity to get more cyclists traveling this route. Even after a re-stripe, it will still be a dangerous road - too narrow for trucks, cars and cyclists to coexist on many sections.
More cyclists will add to the danger. Already, there are tight portions and putting the squeeze on cars - and tractor-trailers - would be an accident waiting to happen. More cyclists also mean more situations when rule-breakers ride two abreast, creating even more dangerous situations. And not only for the cyclists as head-on auto collisions may increase.
A section of state Route 86 between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
Photo/Richard Rosentreter/Lake Placid News
Recognize the re-striping for what it is - more of a band-aid action than a solution. But a solution is not out of the realm of possibility, and cycling enthusiasts should ride their wave of momentum and put even more pressure on DOT and political leaders.
Maybe some thinking outside of the box will help. If the state says creating a bike lane is too expensive - and it seems like it is - then rally all the troops that support bike lanes. Monetary contributions and fundraisers might be part of the solution to help defray the costs.
Instead of looking at the re-striping as a "win" situation, it should be looked at as just one battle in the war to get bike lanes for our area, which will be good for the entire region.
In a worst-case scenario someone will die when the road is re-striped and more cyclists hit that portion of state Route 86. Unfortunately, instances of reaction to catastrophe are common. It happens when residents of a community push for a traffic light and one isn't installed until there is a fatal accident.
Let's hope that is not the price that has to be paid in order to make state Route 86 a highway that is safe for both cyclists and motorists. THAT would be way too high of a price to pay.