Too bad they ruined a beautiful paving job with an insane paint job. It's like the camel that was meant to be a race horse but was designed by committee.
I am a lifelong resident of Davidson and now lately Houston County, and I own and operate a business in Nashville, so I am paying local, state, and federal taxes at both points and in between going to and fro, not to mention the various property, personalty, and income taxes, among other head scratching fees and surcharges too prevalent to enumerate.
So I am more than a little sensitive to egregious wastes of taxpayer money and less than sympathetic to excuses that they are caused by federal directive because the government money at all levels is all coming out of the same pot which has a direct pipeline from my wallet.
The recent repaving of Charlotte Pike was certainly overdue and is appreciated, but the Salvador Dali-like paint job done on it afterward is a slap in the face both to good stewardship of taxpayer resources and common sense. The bicycle lanes, now becoming as omnipresent as green bottle flies, are a particular waste. They are hardly used, they crowd the road, and besides their initial engineering cost, they will cost a fortune to maintain.
I would like to know that someone in state government is standing up to say this emperor has no clothes and to push back against the waste of resources. There are numerous real problems with our roads, of which I am sure TDOT is only too well aware, to which funding could effectively be allocated.
If there is such a Diogenes in state government and you are not it, then please at least pass my letter along as support to the right person who might be working to stop such waste.
I did get an answer, believe it or not, and it was well written and thoughtful, not a form letter, from a young lady functionary who again actually seems pretty sharp. Too bad all these good minds are being wasted diffusing wealth instead of creating it. I won't identify her by name as I am sure she did not write the letter intending it to be publicized. And I don't think it should necessarily be taken as an official TDOT or Metro response. But here's the gist of it: Some study found that over a TEN YEAR PERIOD (caps for emphasis are mine) there were THREE bicycle injury crashes and TEN pedestrian injury crashes on this stretch of road. So the state working with Metro decided bike lanes were in order and piggybacked that cost onto an already-planned repaving.
THREE? TEN? IN TEN YEARS!!!
I first became familiar with how all this works maybe twenty years ago when the Walmart Supercenter went up at Charlotte and Davidson Drive. I lived in the neighborhood at the time. I have nothing against Walmart, but I knew that if the zoning requirements were waived to allow that development, it was Katie bar the door against anything else. I had a nice little five minute commute back then. The city bent over and the Walmart property developers got their way. The rest, as you can see with your own eyes now, is history. There are now about a half a dozen added traffic lights on that old commute of mine.
But back to the point. The bicycle lanes are an abomination. I have seen one cyclist using them in all of my daily commute down that stretch since they went in. It was an aging hippie type, straining up one of the hills, long white beard flowing and in some danger of getting entangled in the spokes of his front tire. I felt kind of sorry for him. It was hot as Hades. And by the way, he was going against traffic. And not wearing a helmet, not that anyone should have to. But I and many others have noticed that bicyclists, whether the hippie type, or kids, or the kind in the little tight pants (spare us, please, especially those of you who are broader of beam than your figure-slenderizing mirror suggests) are the most arrogant, rule-breaking, dangerous folks on the road, running red lights and stop signs, jumping off and back onto the sidewalks, weaving through traffic, blocking lines of traffic while spasmodically pedaling uphill, etc.
Be that as it may, the next "bicycle injury crash" is on the state, not the cyclist. The bicycle lanes offer a false sense of security to the cyclists and they are anything but secure routes to travel. Just look at that picture above. That is a bicycle lane painted RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE of the Charlotte Pike, River Road, and Walmart driveway intersection. What madness. Some poor soul is likely to go careening down that lane and get smacked head on by a Metro Public Works truck making a turn there. Well, actually, all it will take is a Smart Car to take out a cyclist.
Such an accident will be on you, Metro, and you, State. God forbid it's a fatality.
Better to leave the cyclists to their own devices. Have them cross traffic when the light allows like pedestrians, then go on their way. Don't lure them into the maelstrom.
Not wanting merely to criticize, let me offer some helpful suggestions for better use of highway funds:
1. Lose the bicycle lanes. See above.
2. Lose the informational signs on the freeways that have all the cute little rhymes most of the time. There is an amazing modern invention called the radio. They even have them in cars now. They give excellent traffic reports. Sell those signs to New Jersey. They love that stuff.
3. Lose the lane reflectors where there are street lights. Lane reflectors are another feature installed on that stretch of Charlotte now, and I noticed the other day they are also all the way out Harding Pike to Bellevue. Where there are no street lights, reflectors are a great safety feature. Otherwise, some vendors who make and install them are getting wealthy with a lot of unnecessarily spent taxpayer money, and call me cynical, but I'm guessing some intermediary along the way is pocketing a percentage as well.
4. Lose the mileage markers on the freeways every tenth of a mile. Of course, as with other things, the money is already spent. But for goodness' sake, don't replace damaged ones.
5. Lose the big TDOT sign painted on the exit off I-40 down around Jackson. What is that a sign of really anyway, delusions of grandeur? You're a highway department, not the Titans.
6. Lose the signs that say "First State Highway" and similar. Who besides TDOT cares enough to spend any money on that? Better to spend the money on speed limit change warning signs for all the absurd 30 m.p.h. zones on state highways now. Why 30 m.p.h.? For safety? I don't think so. I think that every level of local government is loving getting the $100 and $200 tickets for speeding in these absurdly slow zones, not to mention their cuts of the traffic safety class fees. I'll have more to say about that in another post. But TDOT, if you have such a sign fetish, at least do drivers a favor by warning them of speed traps.
I could go on with cost saving suggestions, but let's cut to the chase. Safety is your first priority, right?
Three rollovers in a month at the 24/40 split?
TDOT, Metro, I think you have more important priorities that you've been ignoring than the frivolous bicycle lanes you've put so much resource into. How about doing your real job? Provide good, safe roads for the motorists who pay for them and leave the window dressing to interior designers.