York City residents ponder extended bike lane as project approaches


As a warm sun baked the musty post-rain air Sunday afternoon in York City, 15-year-olds Anthony Miller and Angel Rodriguez rode their bikes east in the bike lane on West King Street, across the bridge over Codorus Creek before turning left off the road onto the tree-lined Rail Trail.

The York City teens enjoy the bike lane, they said, as they feel safer when riding in it.

"I don't have to keep looking over my shoulder," Angel said.

Both were glad to hear that the city's decided to extend the bike lanes farther east than where they stop now. Angel said it weighs on his mind when he's heading east and reaches the end of the bike lane.

"That's when I worry about getting hit by cars or something," he said.

Right now, the lane runs from West King Street's intersection with Belvedere Street to where East King meets Broad Street. That's from the 600 block of West King to the 400 block of East King — 12 blocks. The new lane would eventually extend another six blocks to where the road meets Lehman Street, according to a release from the city.

York City plans to put in a bike lane that goes in the same direction as traffic on one side, and then one going in the opposite direction on the other side.

The first phase, starting Monday, will take place between Pattison and Lehman streets, the release stated. Once that starts, new parking setups will be in effect for the north side — the odd-numbered-address side — of the street, as a bike lane for cyclists going the opposite direction as the one-way street's eastbound traffic will sit between the parked cars and the curb, according to the release.

This change, which will be permanent, will afford some protection to the "contra-flow" lane — for cyclists going west while the one-way King Street carries cars east — by using those parked cars as a buffer from traffic, according to the news release.

The second phase of the project will bring the new lanes west to meet the current one at the Broad Street intersection, according to the city. The city aims for that to take place later this year or early 2016.

The release didn't include a cost or whether this project would involve any streetscaping; York City public works director Jim Gross didn't return a call Sunday evening seeking more information.

Mixed reactions: Not everyone is as happy as Angel and Anthony. Kenny Brown, who's been living in the city's east end since he moved here 25 years ago, said he rides his bike around the city pretty often and uses the bike lane when he's on King Street. But it doesn't give him any peace of mind to do so.

"I've been forced out (of the lane) by cars," he said. Brown said that in his experience, many drivers ignore the solid white line and treat the bike lane as just more road. He was optimistic about the idea of bike lanes — it just doesn't work in practice, he said.

"It looked like it was going to work," he said. "But people don't respect it enough."

The existing bike lane was quiet on the sleepy Sunday afternoon. Besides the two teenagers, only a couple of riders coasted it through the middle of town and over the bridge.

Alexander Lewis said he rides his bike around the city pretty regularly and uses the bike lane whenever he finds himself on that portion of King Street.

"It would probably make me feel safer" to have more bike lanes, he said.

But he doesn't think they're a cure-all.

"Not all drivers are as mindful as they should be," he said. But "I'm used to riding with traffic," so he's used to navigating roads where that's the case.

York City resident Amy Melendez doesn't ride bikes around the city, though her kids do, she said. She thinks it's a good idea for there to be a designated place for cyclists, but she isn't so sure that the street is the best place for it. She said it's often disconcerting having the bikers on the far right side, as is the case with the current bike lane — especially at an intersection.

"You just don't know which way they're gonna turn," and they have to cut across traffic if they're both obeying the bike lane and going left, she said.

But she said there's definitely something to be said for encouraging more bike safety and making sure drivers of cars pay them more attention and heed.

"You gotta be more cautious," she said.

— Reach Sean Philip Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com.