The other day, I wrote about the issue of ghost bikes and the way our city actually makes sidewalks unsafe. (I’m not linking to it. It’s two posts down. You’ll be able to find it.) This morning, I was reminded of another dynamic within the city demonstrating their love of pitting pedestrians against bikes, while giving free pass to the actual threat, cars (and drivers): Sparks Street Mall.
Sparks Street is a pedestrian mall, and I love it. There’s no real reason to love it, though. There are some bars, a few restaurants a CBC building and a whole bunch of office towers, but not much else. There is little to draw me there, but I still go. It’s nostalgia, nothing more. I’ve loved it since I was a kid and I want to see it become something worthwhile again.
I should backtrack. It’s called a pedestrian mall. There are no traffic lanes and no sidewalks. It’s built like a pedestrian mall. Just a big space clearly designed for walking…and, of course, no biking.
I mean, its design is clearly compatible with biking, and there’s little reason not to make it shared space. Shared space can work, if there’s enough room and if it’s not meant to be a commuter route. Sparks Street fits the bill, but the mall authority and the BIA (both of which have waaaaaaay too much power) have demonstrated a clear hatred for bicycling, so no bikes.
Some people have very strong feelings about this (on both sides). I don’t. Sparks certainly could be shared space, but I don’t really mind if it’s pedestrian-only.
But of course, it’s not pedestrian-only. Cars are allowed, if not encouraged. I am never on Sparks Street these days without seeing a car, van, truck or motorcycle, and I’m generally on Sparks Street at least once a week.
Further, the mall hosts car shows. They’ve even used this pedestrian space for test drives, in the past.
Our governmental/quasi-governmental organizations will expend a lot of energy ensuring that pedestrians know that bikes are a danger and that they will fight to the death to keep the off Sparks Street, while at the same time inviting cars onto the pedestrian mall.
It’s just another light standard.