I’m in suburban Chicago for the week. In the area around where I am spending most of my time, the greater Hoffman Estates/Schaumburg/Arlington Heights suburban lump, many sidewalks are labelled with helpful ‘BIKE ROUTE’ signs.
Three-foot wide sidewalks do not magically become a bike route because they get jaunty signs. Especially when they cross loads of driveways (and riders would be against prevailing traffic flow), have giant cracks with weeds, and huge signs dictating that bicyclists must get off and walk their bikes across all crosswalks at intersections.
For the record, Schaumburg is a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community per the League of American Bicyclists. They get a star for ‘Encouragement.’ Such dubious recognition of facilities is why many question the value of the BFC program.
I have seen two vehicular cyclists this week, actually riding on roadways in a safe, sane and predictable manner congruent with traffic law. Now, I admit, it would take many one heck of a lot of bravery to be using the streets with the sidewalk ‘Bike Route’ attached, but they’re 4-lane, 35mph roads with passing room. It’s possible.