Really, when you get right down to it, all you have is an ephemeral white line upon equally ephemeral man-made pavement. In mere minutes, the bike lane can be reduced to nothingness, the restricting boundary erased like a stray pencil mark on white college rule, the manicured rockery eroded like silt along a riverbank.
And yet for some reason we give unto the bike lane as if it were more than that. As if its whiteness — purity’s hue, mind you — is more than just the rigid absence of color. We are asked to share the road, to co-inhabit the concrete, and we do that. We do it both willingly and lawfully, steering our motor vehicles or our pedestrian paws away from said lane. Seemingly at all costs we avoid this forbidden expanse…save for those of us who pedal our Schwinns down its purity-lined path, of course.
As drivers and foot commuters, we yield space to our two-wheeled brethren. One could argue, however, that they do not yield equally to others in return. Consider, if you will, all those cyclists who filter into the flow of motorized traffic, who wander onto walkways, who stray from the sanctity of the bike lane in spite of its mere existence. Wherefore art thou, dear cyclist, when this holy light through yonder pavement breaks? Dost thou not revel in its grandeur, in its grace? Nay, thou dost not.
What it really boils down to is this: the bike lane is underutilized and overrated. We share with it; it shares not with us. Yet in this fair city of ours, this wonderful oasis of emerald infrastructure, the bike lane holds the key to all political perpetuation.
So I propose this.
Imagine if the bike lane held not just bikes, but people of all modalities of transportation, all walks of life. As we share our external havens with cyclists, they too will share their haven with us.
The bike lane will play host to thousands at a time, perhaps up to 20,000 in one sitting alone. They will sit and stand and scream and cheer and turn this lane once reserved for occasional transport into a celebration of emotion.
And yes, there will be seats. Tiered seats with cushioned backs and armrests with cup holders. Seats that fill with bodies and warmth and vibrance. Seats that contain the absolute verisimilitude of human life.
The bike lane will become a sought-after destination. Parents will take their children to witness greatness in the bike lane, to teach them values in the bike lane, to share memories with them in the bike lane. Young adults will mingle in the bike lane, find love in the bike lane, take their dates to the bike lane. The bike lane will be characterized as a social dwelling, an intersection of interaction.
Then, you will see it blossom. The city will flourish in its midst. Foam fingers will emerge, pride will swell, happiness will sprout, civic unity will thrive.
And there, in its center, at its heart, will sit a slab of stained hardwood upon which to play. A testament to achievement, to will, to sacrifice, to goodness. It will be the focal point of the bike lane, where the patrons of the bike lane will lay their eyes when they sit and stand and scream and cheer.
It will dawn on someone that this isn’t a bike lane. That it’s an arena. A venue. But no one will care. Because they will go to it anyway. Because it’s theirs and it serves a purpose greater than any white line on cold pavement could ever attain.
For now, though, we must disguise it. If not, it will never get built. This sanctuary of ours, sports fans, must be shrouded amidst the impracticality of sequestered white lineage. To see it come to fruition, we have to hide it, lest our government see it for what it is.
So please, sir. Mayor McGinn, sir. Your Almightiness, sir. Please do us this favor. Please give us this bike lane. It will bring you money beyond your wildest dreams. It will make you a hero. It will be unlike any other bike lane you’ve vomited upon our streets thus far.
It may not look like a bike lane, it may not smell like a bike lane, it may not even be a bike lane.
But if we say it is, will you believe us?