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Newberry Bike Lane Puts Cyclists In Danger, Residents Say


As Gainesville strives to become a more bike-friendly city, some are questioning a mile of Newberry Road where bike lanes abruptly turn into parallel parking spaces.

Daytime parking in unmetered spaces attracts both employees and customers because of the bank along with medical and insurance buildings in the area.

But that leaves bicyclists with only one option: sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians.

“I’ve almost been killed a few times,” said bicyclist, Beth Van Nostrand. “And it’s 99 percent of the time, it’s the traffic’s fault, but you know, I’m the one that’s going to get squished.”

One business owner in the area says he’s seen too many close calls.

“If they would make a bicycle lane out of it, that would be terrific,” said Angel Venega, the owner of a computer service, PC Techman. “There have been incidents where a lot of motorists are coming out, and they are looking out to make a right, and the bicyclists are coming this way, and they almost get hit.”

Parallel parking runs along Newberry Road from 38th Street to the light at 43rd Street. Anyone can use these parallel parking spaces, however, a lot of people are parking and walking across four lanes of traffic to get to the medical plaza. Doing so can be very dangerous with a 45-mile-per-hour speed limit.

Residents continue to raise the issue with local officials.

“The infrastructure has got to be there,” Nostrand said.

Although Newberry Road is a state road, the focus is to get the city and county, which do joint transportation planning, to take the lead on proposing a change.

Robert Hutchinson, an Alachua County commissioner, recently noted on social media that he appreciates people raising these sorts of issues to try to improve traffic flow and traffic safety for everyone.

About Brittney Smith

Brittney is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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One comment

  1. Well, riding on the sidewalk is one option, but it’s not the only option. It depends on the time of day, and how much $ the cyclist is willing to spend. First, the bicycle needs to be highly visible, LED tail lights, orange flags, a Slow Moving Vehicle sign, wear a reflective vest, etc..
    A rear view mirror will also be necessary . But also, you’ll need a video camera, in case of a road-rage incident…
    With all the gear in place (don’t forget to wear a helmet), ride to the end of the Bike Lane, with the camera recording , and just wait. Watch the traffic. Expect to wait 3 to 5 minutes at the very least. See if you notice a cycle, perhaps the traffic lights , a mile back, are creating a traffic pattern where there’s an incredibly large ammount of traffic for 2 minutes, a lull of say 45 seconds, a minute and a half of light traffic, and then two minutes of almost no traffic… That’s typical, but I don’t know the specifics of your case with Newberry rd. …
    Also , you have to watch for trucks, buses, ambulances, and get out of their way.
    When you’ve identified a break in the traffic, you’ll have to pul out into the right lane, making sure you are clear of the car doors in case one opens, and also you want to keep an eye on your rear view mirror (with the camera recording everything, in case of a road rage incident).
    Here’s the dilemma , If you pedal as fast as you can, say 40MPH, for instance, and the speed limit is 45MPH, not everyone is OBEYING the Speed Limit, you might get someone going 70, so keep an eye on the mirror. Now, if your going 30 or 40, and you get someone from behind doing 70, you have to ditch your bike into the sides of the parked cars. You don’t want to cause damage to the parked cars, so your only other option is to ride SLOWER , that’s counterintuitive, but should you be forced to ditch, you want to jump off the bike and stand between bumpers of the parked cars.
    There shouldn’t be a problem if the LEFT lane is clear, the passing car CAN move left, and use the LEFT LANE. UNLESS there is Heavy Traffic… That’s why I said , watch the traffic for a while, to see what happens with the cycle of the red and green lights , a mile back of you… You should only go when there is a break in traffic, and always watch the rear view mirror, watch every car carefully , be prepared to ditch, and when the Heavy Traffic comes back after the five minutes is up, Then you MUST get out of the way.
    Unless it’s after hours, and you have enough lights, then you don’t have to be quite as meticulous as I just described.

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