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  1. #1
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    Parking in bike lanes. [Pics Added]

    [Edit: I've added the pictures in the latest post if you want a look]

    What do I do, or what should I do?

    Around where I live and where I like to bike, there are technically bike lanes along the side of the road. However, these ‘bike lanes’ are the same width as a parking lane and disappear and reappear around intersections. It seems that the local council have decided since there is a space there, to conveniently paint on the road, a picture of a cyclist over the lane separating the ‘bike lane’ from the driving lane.

    So, considering the convenient width of this lane, people always park in it. I don’t mind riding in this lane, as it is wide enough and generally free of debris, but I find that I have to frequently go into the car lane to move around parked cars. This of course is a tad dangerous. If I can, as soon as I see the parked car I move into the other lane if there is no car, trouble is, these damn cars are so much faster than me, so I can’t always hear or see them coming up behind me before I swerve in front of them.

    Along the same idea, there seems to be a few other lanes around the place that just disappear for some reason. Some just suddenly stop at an intersection and some gradually get thinner and thinner until non-existent. What is the safest way that you guys have found to merge into other lanes of traffic?

    Thankyou
    Last edited by damnable; 01-08-07 at 11:16 PM. Reason: New info

  2. #2
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    where do you live? sounds like pizzpoor accomodations. they aren't like that everywhere, many municipalities in North America are retrofitting substandard bike lanes, widening bike lanes, improving their destination positioning, and expediency of overall traffic flow on the regional transport grid with integrated velotransit lanes.

    Most of the progressive big cities in Canada (by this i mean NOT Calgary, Sudbury or Thunder Bay although they too might have good facilities?)- and American examples like Portland and Seattle- these cities' bike facilities contribute to the safety and numbers of bicyclists on the roads and help condition drivers to the presence of bikes on the roads.

    ignore unsafe road positions. ride in a safe position. Ride as far to the right as is practical and as far left as is safe.

    if i need a little room in an ajacent, i use a 'tickle fingers' motion, look, then lateral.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    In Brisbane, Australia. It's just pathetic really, because I have lived here for a while and these lanes used to just be parking (no little painted biker signs on the road). Although you would just ride in them anyway if there was no big metal things in the way.

    Other lanes that just dissapear are the result of recent road works. It looks like they thought one lane was a tad too wide and so put a half-arsed bike lane there instead, it's only about half a meter wide. I have even seen one of these spring up on the side of the road where there is a bikelane/footpath combination off to the side of the road already.

    And what do you mean by 'tickle fingers'?

  4. #4
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    The safest way to merge with traffic is to start planning in advance. If you see that the lane is becoming substandard ahead - start doing something about it NOW! Start looking back and checking what the conditions are like. If the obstacle is still far, and there is a car approaching from behind, you may decide to let it pass and complete your move later. But as you are getting closer, plan to negotiate your lane change in such a manner that when you are at the obstacle, it's safe to switch to the left. Same as driving: what do you do when you see a parked car in your lane aheah?

    If there is traffic, you'll need to signal, of course, so that other drivers know what you're doing. Sometimes you'll have to negotiate and get a driver who will slow down and let you in. That's why you start preparing for a lane change early - so by the time you're at that parked car, you've negotiated a space for yourself if that's necessary and you don't have to madly swerve or to suddenly stop and wait for a gap in traffic. Remember: the driver in the traffic lane has the right-of-way; signalling doesn't mean you're entitled to merge. The driver has to be nice and let you in.

    If there are many parked cars in the lane, it may not be worth your time swerving in and out, and in fact may be dangerous. If that's the case, just ride in the traffic lane, a safe distance away from car doors.

  5. #5
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    What Chephy said.

    Also, you may want to get a mirror. While I have one on one of my bikes and consider it somwhat useful, other folks find them so useful they wouldn't ride without it. However, a mirror no substitute for a look back and signalling.

    As for the bike lane disappearing at intersections, you want to take the middle of the lane that proceeds in your intended direction there anyway to help mitigate being hooked.

    For a lane change, plan ahead, look back, many drivers will slow, taking a look back as a signal that you intend to change lanes, some won't, give a hand signal anyway and change when you have a safe gap to change into.

    Is it a bike lane or a paved shoulder? At any rate, like Chephy said, if there are a lot of parked cars, take the traffic lane and stay in it rather than swerve in and out.

  6. #6
    holyrollin' FlatTop's Avatar
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    Agreeing that it is preferable to occupy the traffic lane in that area. Every change into and out of traffic increases your risk. Bypassing the bike lane seems the safest course.
    Still, cars ought not to be parked in the bike lane. If you pay taxes for the bloody thing then you should have the use of it.

  7. #7
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    If you have the time, go to the nearest police station and report it. Then go back to the offending car and wait. You can have the satisfaction of watching the officer write the ticket. I did this once when I saw a car parked on a crosswalk. I don't bother for bike lanes though because am against them.

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    Senior Member hockeyteeth's Avatar
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    I used to smack the car REALLY hard if someone was inside a car parked in the bike lane. Now if it is on campus where I go to school and I have a minute, I'll just ride to the campus police department and try to get someone to ticket the car.

    My apology if I am off-topic, but why are so many people opposed to bike lanes? Is it because of visibility?

  9. #9
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy
    The safest way to merge with traffic is to start planning in advance. If you see that the lane is becoming substandard ahead - start doing something about it NOW! Start looking back and checking what the conditions are like. If the obstacle is still far, and there is a car approaching from behind, you may decide to let it pass and complete your move later. But as you are getting closer, plan to negotiate your lane change in such a manner that when you are at the obstacle, it's safe to switch to the left. Same as driving: what do you do when you see a parked car in your lane aheah?

    If there is traffic, you'll need to signal, of course, so that other drivers know what you're doing. Sometimes you'll have to negotiate and get a driver who will slow down and let you in. That's why you start preparing for a lane change early - so by the time you're at that parked car, you've negotiated a space for yourself if that's necessary and you don't have to madly swerve or to suddenly stop and wait for a gap in traffic. Remember: the driver in the traffic lane has the right-of-way; signalling doesn't mean you're entitled to merge. The driver has to be nice and let you in.

    If there are many parked cars in the lane, it may not be worth your time swerving in and out, and in fact may be dangerous. If that's the case, just ride in the traffic lane, a safe distance away from car doors.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Are there any signs posted saying no parking? Is the curb painted red?

    If neither then if the cars are with the right wheels within 18" of the curb then they are likelylegally parked. Poor design is not the car owners fault.

  11. #11
    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyteeth
    My apology if I am off-topic, but why are so many people opposed to bike lanes? Is it because of visibility?
    In me experience one of three reasons:

    1- They have only been exposed to very poor bike lanes, or none at all;

    2- They live in place that requires cyclists to use a bike lane if one is present, and object to that law (but confuse the issue with bike lanes in general), or

    3- They are jerks who have some objection to bike lanes which they feel over-rides the opinions of everyone else (e.g. the quasi-religious opposition to bike lanes from some people here).

    Check the Bike Lane Thread of Doom.

  12. #12
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyteeth
    My apology if I am off-topic, but why are so many people opposed to bike lanes? Is it because of visibility?
    I'm surprised at Patc's answer. I thought he understood the position of those of us who disagree with him better than he expressed in his answer.

    I can't speak for everyone, but for those who oppose bike lanes for similar reasons to me, the main reason boils down to seeing that the biggest impediment to increased acceptance of cycling in our society is the false belief that cyclists and motorists should be segregated as much as possible for various reasons -- that cyclists have an obligation to get and stay out of the way of car drivers -- and bike lanes reinforce this belief, and widen its prevalence in our culture. In short, bike lanes are taking us in a direction opposite from increased acceptance of bicycling as a legitimate form of transportation on our roadways.

    The second most important reason, and it's very related to the first, is the notion that cyclists who default to the primary riding position (in a centerish lane position between the left and right tire tracks) are safest and best off, and bike lanes discourage this method of riding.

    On top of that, are the immediate practical problems with bike lanes...

    • they encourage particularly poor positioning at intersections (and this includes bike lanes to the left of right only lanes).
    • they give novice cyclists a false sense of security on fast/busy roads for which they have not yet achieved the skills to ride on.
    • they give the false impression that there is one and only one correct static lateral position for cyclists on a given road section, when, in fact, the most appropriate position always depends on ever-changing dynamic factors and conditions, for which a static demarcation could be correct about as often as a stopped clock happens to tell the correct time.
    • they encourage fast and unsafe passing of slow/stopped traffic on the right.
    • they tend to collect rubble
    • they reduce cyclist conspicuity (so yes to that part of your question)
    • they make motorists less tolerant of cyclists who ride in traffic lanes (regardless of how legitimate the reason may be).


    I could explain each of the reasons in depth, but I don't want to take this thread any further off topic. But hopefully that give you some idea about why we object to them.
    Last edited by Helmet Head; 10-12-06 at 07:44 PM.

  13. #13
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    In my opinion, a bike lane that allows parking in it is not a bike lane. That is a parking lane. And as such, you should ride to the left side of the white line, outside the door zone, keeping as smooth and straight a line as possible. You may wish to move into the parking lane if there is a large gap without cars parked in it, but make the change into and out of the parking lane smooth, not swervy. Never swerve in and out of parked cars.

    And if you are new to this forum, don't listen to Helmet Head. He's a nutjob.
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  14. #14
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyteeth
    My apology if I am off-topic, but why are so many people opposed to bike lanes? Is it because of visibility?
    It's because of bike lanes like the one the poster described. When you call parking spaces the bike lane, it's pretty clear that your intention is not to provide amenities to cyclists but to get them off the road.

    There's a very long sticky thread on bike lanes.

    If you are new to this forum, don't listen to anyone, we're all nutjobs here. Run away. Now, before you get sucked in.
    Last edited by DCCommuter; 10-12-06 at 09:18 PM.
    The United States of America is the only democratic nation in the world to deny citizens living in the nation's capital representation in the national legislature. District residents have no vote in either the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. www.dcvote.org

  15. #15
    Senior Member hockeyteeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCCommuter
    If you are new to this forum, don't listen to anyone, we're all nutjobs here. Run away. Now, before you get sucked in.
    Haha, I'd say that's sound advice!

    Back on topic though, I recently heard about a new law here in Florida that allows cyclists to merge 3 feet into a traffic lane to avoid being doored by parellel-parked cars. In Florida, you are required to ride "as far right as safe or practical." So before this law was passed, you could actually receive a citation for merging into traffic to avoid a car parked in a bike lane. My state's laws definitely don't encourage bicycle commuting.

  16. #16
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    i doubt that, hockeyteeth. florida has a new '3 foot safe passing' rule that supplanted no criterea surrounding what 'safe pass' clearance was.

    you were allowed to leave the lanes to avoid a hazard, to turn, to avoid doors, even before this passing law was passed last session.

    i believe that in every state in the union a bicyclist is allowed to leave a lane to avoid an upcoming hazard.

    regardless, those lanes in Brisbane sound seriously substandard and if they present themselves unsafe the rider should'nt ride there. when a lane is safe to the right, use the lane. if any lane becomes unsafe, leave the lane or otherwise adjust position.

    By "tickle fingers" I mean to make like you are tickling the lane with your fingers, instead of just pointing. I believe it gives me better passing clearances, but i have always been pretty ballsy about claiming lane space already. If I'm shooting a major line instead of just using a lane adjustment to avoid car doors etc, i will actually "point the turn" but to get a couple feet of door, intersection or broken glass clearance, i use my "Tickle fingers".

    i think its more innocous to the drivers.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyteeth
    Haha, I'd say that's sound advice!

    Back on topic though, I recently heard about a new law here in Florida that allows cyclists to merge 3 feet into a traffic lane to avoid being doored by parellel-parked cars. In Florida, you are required to ride "as far right as safe or practical." So before this law was passed, you could actually receive a citation for merging into traffic to avoid a car parked in a bike lane. My state's laws definitely don't encourage bicycle commuting.
    I seriously encourage you to reread your state's traffic laws and try to get a better understanding of what they are really trying to say. I know that your first impression of the wording "as far right as practicable" is that cyclists should always ride on the right edge of the highway, but that is not the case. For starters, most states say that cyclists should ride as far right as practicable on the roadway. If you look at the definition of roadway in the vehicle code, it includes only the part of the highway (the entire paved area of the road) that is normally used for traveling in the direction you are headed. It does not include the shoulder. Further, most states laws for bicycles states that if a lane is not wide enough to share, "as far right as practicable" no longer applies. So, unless a lane is wide enough to share, you have no obligation to ride as far right as practicable.

    On top of all that, the "as far right as practicable" laws only apply when there is faster same direction traffic which makes sense. Who cares what part of the roadway you are using when there is no one around to be impeded?

    The basic gist of the vehicle code as it applies to bicycles in most states is that cyclists should use the roadway just like everyone else regardless of speed. If you are in a situation where you can safely move over to allow faster traffic to pass, then you should do it to help keep traffic flowing.

  18. #18
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Speaking as someone who has very few bike lanes where he rides, I would describe myself as "mildly opposed", based mostly on the reasons enumerated by HH and others here. Since my personal experience of riding mostly without them has resulted in my learning to ride in the regular traffic lanes (or shoulders), so I feel that I no longer need them for myself, and if I can learn to ride without them, why can't others? Thus my leaning is more in favor of cyclist education than infrastructure.

    Thinking more objectively, I can see that consistent, well-thought-out bike lanes, such as those in some European countries (so I've heard), would be great. However, since no place in North America that I've heard about, certainly in the US, is willing to make such an investment, I think then the question becomes whether poorly-done or incomplete bike lanes are better or worse than none at all. The answer of course depends at least partially on the details of each situation, so cannot be completely answered in the abstract here.

    Given the current situation in the US, my recent thinking is that if you want BL's, better to concentrate doing them well through intersections, since that is where the majority of confusion occurs for both cyclists and motorists. On straightaways, no one needs quite as much guidance, so I think they are perhaps more trouble than they are worth there.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99
    Are there any signs posted saying no parking? Is the curb painted red?

    If neither then if the cars are with the right wheels within 18" of the curb then they are likelylegally parked. Poor design is not the car owners fault.
    Bike lanes are lanes of traffic like the other lanes of traffic. Are there any no parking signs for the other lanes. Can you park your car and get out when it's in any other lane of traffic?

    As was suggested, call the police but don't tell them the vehicle is in a bike lane. Report that there is an abandoned vehicle blocking a lane of traffic ...

    There is accepted ways of blocking lanes of traffic ... road construction, traffic accidents, delivery trucks etc. The lane must be SAFELY and PROPERLY block ... not just parked in.

  20. #20
    No-Pants Island bbonnn's Avatar
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    Yes, and then residents who live along the streets where they're parking in the bike lane will petition the city to remove the bike lane altogether. It's happening very close to where I live right now.

    A developer bought a couple of neighborhood lots, built a bunch of condos, and didn't put in enough parking spaces. Surprise! Residents need to park in the streets, and since the bike lane gobbles up so much of their precious curbspace, the HOA decided to go all activist and ask the city to remove it. I blame the condo developers. They knew what they were doing all along.

  21. #21
    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    Speaking as someone who has very few bike lanes where he rides, I would describe myself as "mildly opposed", based mostly on the reasons enumerated by HH and others here. Since my personal experience of riding mostly without them has resulted in my learning to ride in the regular traffic lanes (or shoulders), so I feel that I no longer need them for myself, and if I can learn to ride without them, why can't others? Thus my leaning is more in favor of cyclist education than infrastructure.
    Its a fallacy that bike lanes are for newbies and/or those uncomfortable riding in traffic. Personally I think, on average, there is no conclusive pro or con argument when it comes to safety, with local conditions on a specific road far outweighing any theories of bike lane safety.

    What bike lanes can offer, however, is a more comfortable and convenient ride for all cyclists, in locations where one or both of those are a specific problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    However, since no place in North America that I've heard about, certainly in the US, is willing to make such an investment, I think then the question becomes whether poorly-done or incomplete bike lanes are better or worse than none at all.
    Visit Ottawa some time.

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    Hmm, sounds like the general consensus here is that I should just ignore these 'bike lanes'. I truly don't believe they are really. I will see if I can con someone into letting me borrow their digital camera and put some pictures up.
    Thanks for all the help.

  23. #23
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeyteeth
    In Florida, you are required to ride "as far right as safe or practical." So before this law was passed, you could actually receive a citation for merging into traffic to avoid a car parked in a bike lane. My state's laws definitely don't encourage bicycle commuting.
    I've never heard of this. In order to avoid a parked car, positioning yourself to the left would be as far right as practicable.

    Some suggested reading:
    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/...EChapter%20316
    Section 316.2065 Bicycle Regulations, specifically covers the requirements of and for cyclists, but there are other vehicle laws covered by Chapter 316 that are applicable.

    http://www.floridabicycle.org/
    Specifically:
    http://www.floridabicycle.org/rights/index.html
    And particularly:
    http://www.floridabicycle.org/rights/farright.html
    and:
    http://www.floridabicycle.org/rights...mfromfear.html

  24. #24
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by damnable
    Hmm, sounds like the general consensus here is that I should just ignore these 'bike lanes'. I truly don't believe they are really. I will see if I can con someone into letting me borrow their digital camera and put some pictures up.
    Thanks for all the help.
    Are they bike lanes or paved shoulders? There's a difference. Bike lanes will be designated by signage and stenciling of a bike and rider on the pavement.

    The de facto purpose of bike lanes is to move cyclists out of the way for the convience of motorists, not for the safety of cyclists.

  25. #25
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    debatable.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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