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  1. #1
    lunatic fringe Dogbait's Avatar
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    Vancouver Bike Box ?

    Haven't heard of these before. Does anyone from Vancouver, B.C. know how well they work? How widespread are they? How long have they been there?

    Bike Box

  2. #2
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    Looks like right-hook bait to me.

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    This box works in the netherlands because there are two set of traffic lights at many intersections, one for cylists and one for cars. When the red changes, the cyclists get a green light first, cars still have a red. This lets them get moving through the intersection, then cars are given the green.

    Good first step, but I bet there were a lot of impatient drivers when it first started.

    What this does is simply recognize the way many cyclists ride out of a concern for their self preservation. Its safer to filter forward at a light and be in front of traffic when everyone starts off from a dead stop.

    This of course is anathema to the minions of the Church of the VC who will call for nothing less my burning at stake for my blasphemy. I remain unrepentant. I will not utter Mea Campy!
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  4. #4
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    The trouble with bike boxes is that bicyclists who are trying to pass on the right to reach the box must cross in front of car traffic with a different destination. Without the Dutch bike-only signals, the car traffic can start up suddenly as the cyclists try to cut in front of them. Left-turning cyclists can collide with straight-traffic and straight-traveling cyclists can collide with right-turning traffic.

    I prefer to merge with other traffic when approaching intersections so that we can sort ourselves by destination, and thus no surprises occur. Also, since most of the urban travel lanes where I live are narrow, I don't frustrate other drivers by requiring them to overtake me more than once. Personally, when on a bike I prefer to be the last person through a green light, not the first, since being the first results in a lot more drivers trying to overtake in dense traffic conditions that makes it harder for them to change lanes to the left.

    I find that a driver who is sitting behind me waiting at a red light is highly cognizant of my being there and is no threat to me as we proceed -and he or she effectively protects me through the intersection if I'm taking the lane. I'd be more worried about overtaking on the right as I get to the intersection and traffic may be about to move, since those drivers I'm passing may not see me soon enough.
    Last edited by sggoodri; 09-25-06 at 09:31 AM.

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    We have several of these in Victoria BC. They work well. One in particular at an intersection where a two lane road veers to the left. The outer left lane must turn left, the inner lane can either go left or go straight ahead. The box serves as a location for cyclists to gather to make the left turn, while staying ahead of and seperate from those vehicles that are travelling straight through. Yes, "taking the lane" serves the same purpose, but if nothing else the big blue box serves as a reminder to drivers taht there are cyclists out there.

    http://www.gvcc.bc.ca/cycletherapy/c...ke%20box%22%22

  6. #6
    Electrical Hazard
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    I frequently use the Bike box Westbound at Union and Main, where its actually a "T". The intersection allows drivers to go right, straight, or left, and the bike box is in front of ALL of these lanes.



    This means that cyclists can ride up between the right and left turners, to take position at the front.
    The funny part is, that the Eastbound cyclists get to go before the Westbound ones, because the lights haven't been updated.

    I've spoken to Peter Starey, Vancouver's Bicycle Program Coordinator about it, and here's what he had to say:

    We plan to install an advance green bicycle signal in the near future which will come up at the same time as the pedestrian Walk and legitimize westbound cyclists starting off ahead of the vehicle green. This device has just recently been approved for use by the Transportation Association of Canada and was not available to us when the bike box was implemented.

    More recently, they've installed a bike box at Victoria and Broadway, which I also use on my commute.
    This one is a little different. Its only in the far right (of 3) westbound lanes. The reason for this, is because the bike route diagonally intersects these two roads.

    MAP

    I used to just hop into the Northbound left (west) turn lane, and complete the turn with traffic, but now I'm experimenting with doing the two step North crossing to the bike box, then crossing West to continue.

    I'm still not entirely sold on this one, as they've put a 'Bike crossing' further east than the crosswalk.

    I’m a little concerned about the dreaded ‘right hook’ when coming off of the curb on the SE corner of the intersection. I’ve had a few instances of cars making half the turn, and stopping on the crosswalk once they notice me. It seems that the recessed cross bike is far enough back from the intersection, combined with the NW greenway direction, that a car heading north preparing to turn might not see the approaching cyclists.
    In a way, this is like having a right turn lane to the left of a straight through lane.

    Of course I emailed this to Peter...

    The "cross bike" and bike box at Broadway/Victoria isn't complete yet. The markings were installed after paving, however we are also planning to install a textured red surface on the facility, as well as bike symbols within the bike box.
    Warning signs have been installed on Victoria to warn drivers of bikes crossing should they turn onto eastbound Broadway.
    So, I went out and looked at the warning sign Peter referred to along Victoria, and it was like no sign I had ever seen before. Its an orange diamond with images of bicycles and crosswalks. I have a feeling that most motorists have no idea what it means, and won't understand it until they nearly hit a cyclist.

    All in all, I think the boxes are a good thing, but its going to take some driver training to stop them from driving on them. It will also take some careful planning on the city's part to get the lights programmed to an optimal system for everyone.

  7. #7
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    they're common in the UK - we call them ASLs Advanced Stop Lines. They work pretty well, except that many motorists don't understand that they shouldn't enter them when there isn't a cyclist in it.

    Their main advantage is that they give you a small head start and also put you more in the driver's eyeline so left hooks (right US) are reduced.

  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    But why are bike boxes used at all if riders are merging with traffic?

    I know in my commute I am in place in line with the autos... maybe 3-5 cars back, and then I am there. Especially where bike lanes don't exist.

  9. #9
    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    We have a different type of bike box in a few places in Ottawa - O'Connor at the Queensway comes to mind. They are basically just a "stump" of a bike lane, about the same length as a turn lane, and ending at the stop line just like the other lanes. In the case of the one mentioned above, it is because only bikes are allowed to go straight through that intersection, cars must turn right, or sweep under the Queensway (freeway) and take a left to the on-ramp.

  10. #10
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DennisC
    We have several of these in Victoria BC. They work well.
    Just curious, they "work well", as compared to what?

    In particular, do they work well for cyclists who normally try to sneak and squeeze up to the front at lights? That is, it "works well" because it gives these cyclists a legitimate place to stop?

    Does it "work well" for cyclists who just prefer to take their place in line? See sggoodri's and genec's posts for what I mean by this.

  11. #11
    BF's Level 12 Wizard SingingSabre's Avatar
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    I would love to see some of those in my town. I can think of 3 intersections off the top of my head which could certainly use them. Wait, make that 4...no...5...oh gawd, the possibilities!
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    Obviously, the guy's like a 12th level white wizard or something. His mere presence is a danger to mortals.

  12. #12
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    bike 'boxes' positioning bicyclists in destination positions for straight ahead traffic, as well as some bike 'boxes' at intersections to favor a left or right hand turn by bicyclists, in the correct destination position for these turns, are used with great success at well accomodated intersections in the greater Seattle area.

    bike boxes work well for bicyclists at well accomodated intersections.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Just curious, they "work well", as compared to what?

    In particular, do they work well for cyclists who normally try to sneak and squeeze up to the front at lights? That is, it "works well" because it gives these cyclists a legitimate place to stop?

    Does it "work well" for cyclists who just prefer to take their place in line? See sggoodri's and genec's posts for what I mean by this.
    It probably has no effect on the holier than thou adherents to the Church of the VC, whose ten commandments include "Thou Shalt Not Filter". In the real world, however, cyclist naturally filter to the front of a line of traffic, and what the box does is simply recognize the reality of bicyclist's behavior all over the world.

    Reality, now theres something the VC need a big dose of. Instead of having one dogma, "Thou Shalt Ride a Bicycle As If You Were A Car" and then artificially deriving a bunch of commandments from that premise, many of which do not apply, they should look at the real world every once in a while.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    It probably has no effect on the holier than thou adherents to the Church of the VC, whose ten commandments include "Thou Shalt Not Filter". In the real world, however, cyclist naturally filter to the front of a line of traffic, and what the box does is simply recognize the reality of bicyclist's behavior all over the world.

    Reality, now theres something the VC need a big dose of. Instead of having one dogma, "Thou Shalt Ride a Bicycle As If You Were A Car" and then artificially deriving a bunch of commandments from that premise, many of which do not apply, they should look at the real world every once in a while.
    Who said those who ride in a vehicular style don't filter? I'll filter when it's appropriate but I don't go all the way to front for a few reasons. First is to avoid right hooks. Second is to avoid passing and being repassed by the same group of cars. Bike boxes seem to encourage behavior that makes both of these siuations more common (they can't always be avoided but one should do their best to do so anyway). They also impart a "holier than though" attitude to cyclists ("look at me, the city thinks I'm special") which can encourage other boneheaded cyclists' moves in traffic such as running red lights and stop signs.

  15. #15
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    bike boxes encourage correct destination positioning by bicyclists, which educates and extends to bicyclists choosing appropriate destination positions at intersections that have no specific accomodations.
    to the left of right-turn only lanes, to the right of thru traffic leading into signalled intersections.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  16. #16
    Electrical Hazard
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    First is to avoid right hooks. Second is to avoid passing and being repassed by the same group of cars. Bike boxes seem to encourage behavior that makes both of these siuations more common.
    I'm under the impression that allowing bicycles to stop IN FRONT of cars, and clear the intersection before them, actually reduces the chance of the right hook.

  17. #17
    Senior Member tomcryar's Avatar
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    Not to take away from a good idea, but I think where I live, drivers will just pull into the area just like they do with crosswalks. Cops won't enforce that, so I don't think they would enforce this either.

  18. #18
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    Bek, in lyledriver's pic, the bike lane/box could very easily place cyclists to the left of thru traffic at the intersection. I hardly consider that proper destination positioning.

    Lyle, you are assuming that the cyclists always make it to the front before the light changes and that no driver decides to pull to the right to make a right turn as a cyclist is passing him (in cases where the bikelane positions bicycle traffic to the right of motorists which is normally the case). When positioned to the left of a straight or right lane, a cyclist who does make it to the front before the light changes is now forced to merge across faster traffic to his right which your average bikelane only cyclist probably won't feel too comfortable doing, and again is not proper destination positioning to begin with.

    Looking at your picture closer, which direction is the cyclist going to go if stopped in the bike lane before they get to the box? Are they going straight, left or right? Seems very ambiguous and hardly vehicular to place traffic that could turn in any direction in between two other streams of traffic.

  19. #19
    Electrical Hazard
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    In that pic of the Union/Main bike box, there are actually 4 different directions a person can go.

    -Left (south) on Main
    -Straight up (west)the viaduct from the left lane
    -Straight down (also west) Union Via the right lane
    -Right (North) on Main.

    MAP

    Union Street (on the east side of Main) is a single lane arterial bike route into the downtown core. It only turns into 2 lanes at the intersection. In all the times where I didn't make it to the box before the light changes, I've never had a problem finding my way to the bottom of the bike box 'T'. I've also never had a problem with right turning cars trying to cross that section of the box either.

    If the light is green to go through the intersection, then it doesn't really matter (to cyclists or cars) if there is a bike box there.

    Edit, to adress your first paragraph.. Going straight through on the right lane, DOES indeed put the cyclist on the left side of traffic, which is why the city is putting in an advanced green 'bike crossing' signal, as noted in my first post.
    This isn't too big of an issue though, as Union (west of main) is a wide one way, single lane.

  20. #20
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    Seems a lot more complicated and unpredictable than simple destination lane positioning per the uniformly accepted standards that apparently were in place on this roadway at one point in time.

    The advanced green still does nothing for the cyclist who doesn't get there in time.

    None of this complication should be much of an issue for a cyclist with enough on-road experience to feel comfortable in traffic. For the inexperienced rider with very little traffic cycling experience (who these additions are expected to cater to) these issues become a much bigger problem. So what's the problem again that they are trying to solve?

  21. #21
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    why assume these bike boxes only cater to inexperienced bicyclists? all bicyclists stand to benefdit, not just 'inexperienced' ones.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    So what's the problem again that they are trying to solve?
    See before and after pictures for this particular intersection:
    http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/engs.../bikeboxes.htm

  23. #23
    lunatic fringe Dogbait's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lyledriver
    See before and after pictures for this particular intersection:
    http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/engs.../bikeboxes.htm
    Thanks for posting that link. The brochure (PDF) does a very good job of explaining how the Bike Boxes are supposed to work. I think this one sentence pretty much sums it up:

    "By letting bicycles go in front of queuing
    motor vehicles, cyclists’ movements become
    more visible and predictable."

  24. #24
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lyledriver
    See before and after pictures for this particular intersection:
    http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/engs.../bikeboxes.htm
    So what do motorists think about the new arrangements? Is it easier for them to share the road with cyclists this way?

  25. #25
    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donnamb
    So what do motorists think about the new arrangements? Is it easier for them to share the road with cyclists this way?

    And to what extent should we care?

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