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Old 09-17-06, 07:09 PM   #1
joejack951
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One advantage of bike lanes over WOL/shoulder

I had been wanting to explore some routes for getting to center city Philadelphia from Wilmington by bike and today I finally got the chance. Pennsylvania has marked bicycle touring routes (http://www.dot.state.pa.us/BIKE/WEB/tour_routes.htm) that cut through the state at various points and I happen to live near the start of both bike route L and E. Bike route E takes you from North Wilmington all the way through Philadelphia and a little bit beyond. For some reason the maps are not online like they are for the other routes. I planned on following the signs for around an hour and then heading home (an hour got me just past the airport from my starting point on Naaman's Road in DE). The route was a mix of two lane roads with NOL's and WOL's (usually doubling as a parking lane) and 4 lane roads with NOL's, WOL's, bike lanes, or shoulders with speed limits ranging anywhere from 25-50mph.

One reason that I am a DLP convert is the fact that so often in my area WOL's/shoulders/bike lanes just seem to end. The road narrows or the shoulder/bike lane becomes a right turn lane. Riding to the right at all times meant sometimes being caught offguard by these changes if on an unfamiliar road and ending up in a bad spot. Riding center by default gives me more time to assess the situation and I can decide whether or not to change position to allow faster traffic to pass or to make them wait/go around me.

Now, to my point. All of the bike lanes along the way (I rode the first 13 miles or so of the route with maybe 4 of those miles having bike lanes) were signed at the beginning and the END, usually accompanied by a "Share the Road" sign. I've never seen a shoulder or WOL lane signed saying that the width of the highway is going to be narrowing. These signs were quite helpful with deciding on my positioning as I could see them well ahead of me. I knew far in advance whether I should be looking to move left if I was right and if I should just stay left if I was left. At higher speeds it can sometimes be difficult to discern just how much the highway is narrowing especially if it's happening around a bend in the road.

So score one for well signed bike lanes. But deduct a half point for them being way dirtier than the WOL's

Side note: I think I saw the bravest old woman ever today, riding against traffic on a 50mph, 4 lane, NOL road. Now that takes guts.
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Old 09-17-06, 08:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joejack951
... Side note: I think I saw the bravest old woman ever today, riding against traffic on a 50mph, 4 lane, NOL road. Now that takes guts.
She eliminated the danger of being struck from behind.
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Old 09-17-06, 10:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joejack951
I had been wanting to explore some routes for getting to center city Philadelphia from Wilmington by bike and today I finally got the chance. Pennsylvania has marked bicycle touring routes...
Oh, this brings up another point point in favour of bike lanes over wide shoulders: they are shown on maps. Even if part of the road is marked as a "cycling route", there is no way of telling whether there actually is a shoulder or not: sometimes roads are marked as "cycling routes" just because they are the best of the bad choices around. On the other hand, some really good roads are often not marked as cycling routes for whatever reason. A bike lane marking on a map at least tells you that, well, there is a bike lane, and conversely its absence on a cycling map implies absence of a bike lane on the corresponding street.

Of course, that in itself, unfortunately, is not always particularly useful since so many bike lanes are so awful that you want to avoid them in favour of a 2-lane high-speed NOL road with a lot of traffic, seriously...
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Old 09-18-06, 10:00 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by chephy
Oh, this brings up another point point in favour of bike lanes over wide shoulders: they are shown on maps.
WOL are marked on local city created bike maps. If you look at the legend for this map, WOL streets are colored magenta.

http://www.tempe.gov/bikeprogram/Bik...6%20Legend.jpg

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Old 09-18-06, 10:29 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by chephy
Oh, this brings up another point point in favour of bike lanes over wide shoulders: they are shown on maps.
The Maine Department of Transportation publishes a complicated map which shows via colour and line width, both the width of the lane/shoulder and the average number of cars per day on the road. Takes time to figure out how to read it, but it is usefull information.
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Old 09-19-06, 11:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by John E
She eliminated the danger of being struck from behind.
But greatly increase the danger of a head on collision.
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Old 09-19-06, 02:21 PM   #7
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Please assume for the moment I'm new here -- what's "WOL" and "NOL"? I'm guessing that W==wide and N==narrow, and L is probably "lane", so what's 'O'?

Cheers!
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Old 09-19-06, 02:24 PM   #8
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Outside aka Curb
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Old 09-19-06, 02:27 PM   #9
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Ahh -- thanks.
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Old 09-20-06, 07:04 AM   #10
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raleigh_fan and I live in a state that has adopted the WOL as policy for accommodating bikes, rather than having bike lanes. I've spent the last few weeks wondering which is better in different situations. For instance, They're tweaking a five lane, 55mph road (US 74 in from Fairview, for AVL folks or Googlers) and they're planning a WOL, saying it's for bikers.

I think for 45+mph roads I'd prefer a dedicated lane. Less than that and I'm great with the WOL approach. Around here no one expects to see cyclists. If we had our own marked lane it would at least be an indication that some of us are out there, and dirvers might not be so shocked to see us. It might also add a badly needed sense of security for those unwilling to try riding due to fear.
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