Bike Michiana

resources, news, observations and ideas about bicycling in the Michiana area

North Mishiwaka Parking Lots

Posted by Adam Bee on August 8, 2009

It’s less difficult than you might expect to get around the most auto-dependent sections of Michiana, as long as you’re willing to cut through a few parking lots.

I’d imagine that the practice is officially illegal, potentially dangerous, and probably not LAB-approved, but those are true of a lot of well-established, practical cycling techniques.  The hard fact is that currently if you want to ride to Wal-Mart and you’re not prepared to take arterial traffic sewers, parking lot skipping is the only way to go.

When you start looking at infrastructure that way, you really start to notice details about the landscape, like the lack of any bridge over Juday Creek under 4 lanes.  Or which parking lots link together, which require off-road curb hopping, and which are unfortunately impassible.  Or which parking lot entrances are directly opposite each other and which require the dreaded right-to-left.  (I myself cut through two lots every commute to round off an ugly right-to-left!)

This all ties into a greater facet of bike infrastructure that I think is perhaps obscured from recreational cyclists and other would-be advocates:  Often the greatest benefits to utility cyclists come from careful planning and tiny changes to stuff that will be built anyway.

What do you think?  Do you ride through parking lots?  Which ones are your favorites?  Which are the most heartbreaking non-connecting lots?


2 Responses to “North Mishiwaka Parking Lots”

  1. Henry Scott said

    Thanks for you thoughts on this subject, Adam. I’m continuously impressed by how much quality thought you put into navigating Michiana. After years of refusing to ride on Grape Rd, I’ve started heading up there, and found many of your tips to be quite useful.

    As you’ve described, it is amazing how sometimes the simplest things can dramatically improve access yet, conversely, how much a poorly placed curb or, worse, a fence can hinder safe access.

    One of my biggest frustrations has been the somewhat recent addition of a fence blocking bike / pedestrian access from E Colfax to the small commercial development at the north end of Park Jefferson on McKinley Ave. (here’s a map). If you look closely at the map you can even see a sidewalk making this connection, but it is now blocked with a fence. I can’t for the life of me figure out what would prompt owners to do this.

  2. Adam Bee said

    That is exactly what I’m talking about! What a shame. This seems like exactly the kind of thing a Zoning Board should be thinking about when it approves permits–it’s an example of private firms appropriating public goods for their own ends.

    I wonder what Chris Dressel’s opinion is on this matter… he may have bigger fish on the skillet right now but as a long-run issue it seems like a low-cost, high-impact intervention.

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