PLAINVILLE — As you drive along Route 1 headed toward the newly opened Plainridge Park Casino, you will notice white striping on the road pavement designating a bicycle lane for the highway.
That’s right. Route 1, with its crush of vehicles and high speeds, now has a lane for people to pedal along on a bicycle in the area of the casino.
The lane is not separated from traffic by a guardrail or any other barrier. There is only a while line separating bicyclists from tractor-trailers.
The bike lane is not going over big with local officials.
Selectwoman Andrea Soucy said her reaction was disbelief.
“What? Are you out of your mind?” she remembers thinking when she first saw it.
Soucy and other officials said the bike lane was required by the state when Penn National Gaming, owners of Plainridge Park Casino, made traffic improvements to Route 1.
“It doesn’t make any sense. People will probably die,” Soucy said.
Selectmen Chairman Rob Rose is an avid bicyclist but he said no one should be riding a bike on Route 1. He said the lane requirement is a result of political correctness by a state highway department that is trying to be environmentally friendly.
“That bike lane always draws a comment from me when my wife and I travel over there. Ludicrous, absurd, dangerous are among the words that I utter when I see it.
“As a cyclist, I cringe when I think about navigating that stretch of road. It wasn’t put there to help cyclists. I would never ride that stretch, either side,” he said.
The only comment Massachusetts Department of Transportation would make on the matter was:
“These bike lanes were included pursuant to MassDOT’s guidelines for making bicycle accommodations as outlined in Healthy Transportation Directive and Engineering Directive.”
The Plainville bike lanes are on both side of Route 1 between Route 152 and the Interstate 495 exit.
Cars often have to cross over them to get where they’re going.
Drivers in the travel lane headed north must cross the bike lane to get into the entrance to Plainridge.
Anyone driving south would have to cross the lane to take the Taunton Street exit.
Not everyone thinks the lanes are a bad idea.
Richard Fries of the group Mass Bike said biking is becoming increasingly popular and it can be safe with proper education and enforcement of rules of the road.
“This is where transportation is going,” he said.
People just have to learn to slow down and drive more safely to accommodate different modes of transportation, including bicycling, he said.
Dedicating lanes for biking helps lower-wage workers by giving them the economical option to ride a bike to their job if they cannot afford a car, he said.
But, local officials said they wish the lanes would be eliminated.
Town Administrator Joseph Fernandes joked that he wished he could be like the character Kramer from the old TV show “Seinfeld,” and take a roller and paint to black out the white lines.