My wife and I took different routes on our Saturday bike rides, but arrived home within minutes of each other.
“They’ve chip sealed LaCrosse,” I said. “But you already knew that.”
She grimaced. “It was awful,” she said.
“Yeah,” I responded. “I had to use the sidewalk for a few hundred feet, until I got around the truck.”
“Well, my tires are wider than yours, so I could stick it out,” she said. “But it looks like I’ll have to take a different route for awhile.”
LaCrosse is an important road for bikers in our area. It’s a main artery through our subdivision, and is several miles long. In the direction we rode, it takes us to a T intersection, where we can choose our turn for different route variations. In the opposite direction, it goes to the Austin Veloway. It gets a lot of use.
The disappointing thing is, I fail to see the need for resurfacing. The road is smooth. It has a nice marked bike lane. No potholes or gouges in the pavement for its entire length.
I checked part of the road again today, four days after the chip seal was laid down. It looks like they still have some more to do, because it’s not complete for the entire length of the road. But in the meantime, the traffic is having the desired effect. The chip seal has been tamped down, and at least where car wheels go, the road is almost smooth already.
But I can’t say the same for the bike lane area. Bikes just don’t have enough weight to flatten the chip seal. In spots, chips pile up in the bike lane, thrown out from under passing tires. It looks like cars will have a decent road to ride on again soon, but bikes will be shuddering over a rough lane for some time to come.
The same thing happened several years ago, when the city chip sealed Escarpment, which intersects LaCrosse. Escarpment has never returned to the same level of smoothness it had before it was treated. Other arterials in the area have had the same treatment since, and they’re not pleasant to ride on.
I can see the economic argument for chip seal. It must be less costly than putting down another layer of smooth asphalt. It’s just that in a part of town where cycling is a popular pastime, one would hope another way would be found to resurface the streets.