It's a bike lane, but in name only

Just because you say so doesn't make it true.

While I cruised around Sunday night, adding and deleting addresses to the list of Christmas lights we publish every year, I found myself on Ladner's Westminster Avenue just east of Elliott Street.

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It's a recently paved stretch of road, and while I was initially struck by the smooth ride I was experiencing, what soon caught my attention were the bike lane symbols freshly painted on the asphalt.

The reason I began noticing the new markings is primarily because I started driving over them. No, it didn't have anything to do with the prior consumption of adult beverages, however it could be traced to the fact that as much as the symbols suggest there is one, there really isn't a bike lane along that stretch.

It's a nice idea, but there simply isn't enough space. At one point I decided to steer clear of the symbols as if to simulate the width of a bike lane that drivers shouldn't enter. To do so meant I had to cross the centre line by a significant margin, enough to throw a scare into the driver coming in the other direction.

I've seen these phantom bike lanes elsewhere, including along Harvest Drive, and long wondered exactly what they're hoping to accomplish. There's no demarcation from the vehicular traffic, so they don't provide cyclists with the necessary separation or safety that bike lanes are supposed to afford. Consequently, you don't see many bike riders taking advantage - if that's the right term - of these so-called lanes.

As I made my way toward Tsawwassen via 52nd Street there were more bike lane signs, but at least this time two-wheeled transportation was separated from the four-wheeled variety by a solid white line, allowing cyclists to use a paved shoulder. It's not an ideal situation on a narrow farm road, but it's a heck of a lot better than simply painting symbols on roadways and pretending that bike lanes exist.

Having said that, I do like the notion of using symbols to replace actually doing the work. I'd love to be able to pull out a "Leaves Raked" sign for my front yard every fall, hoping against all odds that somehow my wife wouldn't notice that she could no longer see the lawn. A "Clean Laundry" sign beside the hamper would be helpful too, particularly on those Sundays when the Seahawks are on the tube.

But, alas, life doesn't work that way unless, of course, you're the guy in charge of creating bike lanes.

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