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  1. #1
    山馬鹿 Spire's Avatar
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    Part 1 -- Bicycle Lanes on the sides of roads

    This begins a series on looking at individual hazards that cyclists must face while cycling. Feel free to comment (or even contradict me)!

    Part 1 -- Bicycle Lanes on the sides of roads.

    Frequently having a bicycle lane on the side of the road is seen as a plus for cyclists giving them space to ride seperate from traffic. However, I maintain that this is not entirely the case for the following reasons (please not that I am not look going to take into account Intersections, look for that in Part 2).

    Firstly, a road surface is generally clean of debris because cars drive by and push it to the side of the road. However since cars will not drive in the cycling lane, it will not be cleared of debris such as rocks, small pieces of glass (particularly those 1/4 to 1/16 of an inch) that are particularly harmful to cyclists. Generally, the road is clear 2 feet away from the the track where cars usually drive, therefore, in order to dodge the debris, cyclists will have to drive closer to the traffic side of the bicycle lane. If they don't the debris could actually lead to a higher chance of crash on the edge of the road.

    Secondly, the size of the bicycle lane should accomate most eventualities including a cyclist passing another. This requires a lot of extra space, as much as 5 or 6 feet.

    I maintain that the roadway would actually be safer if those extra feet of space were interegrated into the outside lane of the roadway making it possible to road-share in that lane, so that the driver could pass the cyclist comfortably without having to lave the lane at all. However, the cycling lanes can frequently be a political decision that makes a particular city LOOK like they are paying attention to cyclists needs, when in actual fact, they can be increasing the danger to cyclists.
    http://www.cyclistsroadmap.com/eng/ - Cyclists' road map. Checkout which roads are good for cycling and rate roads in your area.

  2. #2
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I concur, although a specifically marked bike lane has the benefit of acting as a placeholder for us. Unfortunately, a marked bike lane also gives motorists the expectation that we will stay there, even in the presence of debris or other hazards.

    One place I DO like marked bike lanes is to the LEFT side of a right-turn-only lane, to emphasize to motorists and cyclists that through cyclists should not be hugging the curb, setting themselves up for a nearside hook.
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  3. #3
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    On-road bicycle lanes are acceptable as long as they are not separated from the road by a physical barrier which prevents cyclists from leaving the lane when necessary (i.e. debris, parked cars etc). Generally I treat them as I treat any other shoulder, and for all practical purposes I don't see any real difference between them and any other shoulder.
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  4. #4
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    i generally find bike lanes next to the road good.
    2 things that i do not like:
    1) physical divider between bike lane and the road (as Chirs mentioned)
    2) lanes that suddenly end forcing the cyclist to suddenly merge into the traffic either slowing and yeilding to cars or risking "appearing" as the cars don't pay attention to the bicycles in the bike lane so from the driver's view you suddenly "appear" on the roadway. either the bike lane needs to end earlier and allow smooth intergration into the roadway/shoulder or there need to be special markings that make the end/merge safer.

    as John said, i do really like the bike lanes to the LEFT of right turn lanes, particulary the cities that have tried coloring these (my undestanding is that Montreal tried them solid red i think and then Portland copied the idea but used solid blue which i actually liked better). this draws the attention of motorists and indicates how cyclists/cars should interact in a safe manner for rights turns!

    (i don't think this was the topic and we've discussed it before, but..)
    I HATE bike lanes/paths separated from the roadway like in the Dutch/Germany systems. i ride every day here in Munich and there are bike paths everywhere and i like the ones through the parks where you can ride for long distances through the city without traffic control devices or cars, BUT the bike lanes next to the sidewalk separated from the road by parked cars are SO DANGEROUS as cars entering from the side and right-turning cars have to specifically look in the bike lane and even though here in Europe most drivers do do a great job of trying to look for cyclists, it still creates such an unsafe situation with the cars always crossing the bike path at 90 degrees - so what if you LEGALLY have the right of way, it is still dangerous.
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  5. #5
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nathank

    BUT the bike lanes next to the sidewalk separated from the road by parked cars are SO DANGEROUS as cars entering from the side and right-turning cars have to specifically look in the bike lane and even though here in Europe most drivers do do a great job of trying to look for cyclists, it still creates such an unsafe situation with the cars always crossing the bike path at 90 degrees - so what if you LEGALLY have the right of way, it is still dangerous.
    It's worse still in Australia, where you don't legally have the right of way, but instead have signs saying "Cyclists must dismount to cross road/bridge/whatever the council feels like putting here" every 40 metres or so. Heck, I ignore those paths and ride on the road, and would continue to do so even if I had to break the law to do so.

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  6. #6
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    In my new town, there are quite a few bike lanes along busy roads. They are wide enough for riding, but there are pinch-points in the road made with central bollards, to calm the traffic down. The bike lanes stop, and the road narrows so there is no room for overtaking. I need to hop out of the bike lane to seize the whole lane before these obstacles. This is a well known problem, but more of these stupid schemes are popping up.

  7. #7
    Look Ma, NO hands!
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    Around here there are bike lanes on the side of the 4 lane highways. The ones that suck the worst are the ones that they cut these craters into the bike lane about 2 foot from the highway and force you to ride even further in the debrees field! Then you get to cross a bridge and guess what, the bike lane ends but those nasty hash marks run right up to the bridge so you have no choice but to merge suddenly into trafic!
    This is just another way that the government has made an attempt to do us a favor but have made the situation worse by cutting those speed bump hash marks into the asphault!

  8. #8
    Career Cyclist threadend's Avatar
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    Or fair city installed bike lanes, let me touch on some of the idiocies that were included:
    • Bike lanes were not continuous, they started and stopped at random along the streets, sometimes within a city block.
    • bike lane that had marked parking spaces between it and the curb, forced cyclists to move left into traffic, but don't worry the bike lane markings also veered left into traffic to inform drivers that a bike lane existed way out there in the street away from the curb.
    • road with surface so greatly deteriorated you wouldn't ride a F/S MTB there by chocie is cordoned off with painted lines and diamonds as a bike lane
    • no stopping, standing or parking signs placed every 100 yards along bike path route are promptly ignored by all, including police, and just as promptly removed
    • bike lane on only one side of a two way street?
    • bike lane scrubbed at intersection to make room for center turn lane without widening road


    Thanks, but no thanks, I'll fend for myself without the protection of these bike lanes.
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  9. #9
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    My general problem with bike lanes in cities is that they foster the belief amongst uninformed motorists that bikes are allowed on the street only where there are bike lanes.

    In Philadelphia, many of the painted bike lanes are bizarrely placed, too narrow, too hard for drivers to understand. Sometimes they come to an abrupt end; sometimes they actually cross other traffic lanes on the diagonal.

    I will use a bike lane if it's placed where I'd be riding anyway. But the same purpose is served at least as well or better by paved shoulders, restricted (bus/bike) lanes, or wide right lanes.

    In the end, as with most such issues, education would be more effective than regulation. If learning about vehicular cycling were made a requirement to get a driver's license, for example, then ten years later we'd start having ten-year old kids with parents who understood the concept of, and need for, and legal requirement of vehicular cycling. When both the drivers and the cyclists know the rules, everybody's safer.

    RichC

  10. #10
    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    Mixed views, pretty much like the quality of the paths round here.

    Some help in getting through queuing traffic, particularly when combined with 'ahead' boxes at junctions, but trying to turn right (think left in the US) can be a real pain.

    Glass is a problem round my way, but the biggest problem is squeezing one in when there's not enough space - 1.5ft lanes are not very good, especially when a drain is included in that!

    Richard
    Currently riding an MTB with a split personality - commuting, touring, riding for the sake of riding, on or off road :)

  11. #11
    Ich bin ein Lowlander! toolfreak's Avatar
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    I HATE bike lanes/paths separated from the roadway like in the Dutch/Germany systems. i ride every day here in Munich and there are bike paths everywhere and i like the ones through the parks where you can ride for long distances through the city without traffic control devices or cars, BUT the bike lanes next to the sidewalk separated from the road by parked cars are SO DANGEROUS as cars entering from the side and right-turning cars have to specifically look in the bike lane and even though here in Europe most drivers do do a great job of trying to look for cyclists, it still creates such an unsafe situation with the cars always crossing the bike path at 90 degrees - so what if you LEGALLY have the right of way, it is still dangerous.
    Nathank, maybe its just a way of feeling things different, but i disagree.
    As kids we used to ride our bikes every day to school and back, a 30 km trip.
    Learning as kid, the way of cycling in traffic became very familiar.

    You mentioned the disadvantage of facing cars in 90 deg. street, but it`s the only disadvantage i can think of.
    You have to look very careful, i agree, but not more careful then when you pass a two lanes high-street in the city centre.

    And i know situations with 90 deg. or parallel streets with not- separated cycle-paths, but we have to react the same way as we face a car anywhere else; they don`t see us, we have to see them!

    On my old school route, i know one situation, where i take my right of way firmly, but that`s only because the traffic speed is very low.
    In other situations i make eye-contact before i take my right of way, and even then you have to fight your way through sometimes


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    Last edited by toolfreak; 12-02-02 at 02:21 PM.
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  12. #12
    山馬鹿 Spire's Avatar
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    The main point is that pretty much any cycling path on the side of a road (unseparated) would be better served by just widening the outside lane by the same amount.

    As for the bike lane on the right hand turn lane. That would mean that at somepoint the bike lane would have to cross at least one lane of traffic. Definitly a dangerous situation.
    http://www.cyclistsroadmap.com/eng/ - Cyclists' road map. Checkout which roads are good for cycling and rate roads in your area.

  13. #13
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Spire
    The main point is that pretty much any cycling path on the side of a road (unseparated) would be better served by just widening the outside lane by the same amount.
    Why not just build roads with decent shoulders? That way the people who want the line for separation get it, but because it's not marked specifically as a "bike lane", there are no issues with leaving it when you need to.
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  14. #14
    山馬鹿 Spire's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Chris L

    Why not just build roads with decent shoulders? That way the people who want the line for separation get it, but because it's not marked specifically as a "bike lane", there are no issues with leaving it when you need to.
    The idea is that cars do not travel on the shoulder. Cars have a tendency to wipe the debris off the road, clearing the surface. The same applies to a bike lane.
    http://www.cyclistsroadmap.com/eng/ - Cyclists' road map. Checkout which roads are good for cycling and rate roads in your area.

  15. #15
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Spire

    The idea is that cars do not travel on the shoulder. Cars have a tendency to wipe the debris off the road, clearing the surface. The same applies to a bike lane.
    True. My point was that if it's just "another shoulder" nobody will complain when you leave it temporarily to avoid the debris. In any case, having seen the way the oil has built up over the roads overhere since the drought started, I tend to think cars leave as much debris as they remove.
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  16. #16
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    In Adelaide, you can park your car in bicycle lanes, which makes them about as useful as a one-legged man in an a**-kicking contest...

    I'm not sure that wide shoulders are all that useful in practice - when I ride on state roads, which have no shoulder, cars will pass with more room than on national roads with shoulders, and also they don't slow down on roads with shoulders either. And the shoulders are bumpy and cracked because there is no traffic on them to smooth them down.

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