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  1. #1
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Why do BL's have solid lines?

    This just occurred to me the other day. Normal car travel lanes only have solid lines lines separating them close to an intersection, indicating that it's too late now to change lines. The rest of the time, they are dashed, indicating that lateral movement may be done with care. Even yellow center lines follow this convention, dashed when safe for passing, solid when not.

    So why are bike lanes usually done with solid lines? True, they sometimes become dashed in obvious merge situations, such as approaching a right turn only lane, but why only then? Do cyclists never have to merge to the center to turn left into a side street? Do motorists never have to turn right, through the bike lane, into a driveway or parking lot?

    This makes me believe that all bike lanes, all the time, should have a dashed inside line. Perhaps this would be a clearer indication to cyclists and motorists alike that it's merely a suggested travel lane for bikes, but should be treated by both like any other lane, merged into and out of as necessary, with care. Solid lines, on the other hand, seem to imply that bikes should not leave them, cars should not enter them, and in general imply a sense of segregation that I believe is completely false.

    What thinkest thou?
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
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  2. #2
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    I'm not sure how BL's are laid out in Southern Maine. In CA they are solid, until they approach intersections, when they become broken dashed, whatever.

    I would say solid lines indicate to cars that they are to stay out of the bike lane unless they are entering/exiting a driveway. The broken lines at intersection indicate it is OK to for autos cross for a turn, and also alerts the cyclist that the sanctity of the bike lane may become violated by automobiles in this area.

    For the record, I will ride in a bike lane if it happens to be the correct lane position for a given situation, but correct lane position is paramount, whether there are bike lanes or not.
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

  3. #3
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    My own rather cynical view is that it is an attempt to blur the distinction between a bike lane and the shoulder by those who believe that bikes do not belong in the roadway.

  4. #4
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    A white line on pavement means to any vehicle that you cannot cross that line. For example, in a left hand turn lane only, the white line means that once you have committed to that lane, you cannot cross it on the right to get into through lanes, and that cars in the through lanes cannot cross it to the left to get in the left hand turn lane.

    Exactly the same rule applies for bike lanes.
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  5. #5
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I've thought about it too and came to the same idea that the solid-dash lining makes better sense, but its too complicated. If a line must exist I think it should be dashed, never solid, and end 100-200' before any and all intersections.

    Al

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    Going up the hill to SFU in Burnaby BC (a mountain top campus), there is a right hand switchback that a lot of accordion buses go around. The solid white line that marks the bike lane swells to about 8 inches wide there, and I'm glad of it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    This just occurred to me the other day. Normal car travel lanes only have solid lines lines separating them close to an intersection, indicating that it's too late now to change lines. The rest of the time, they are dashed, indicating that lateral movement may be done with care. Even yellow center lines follow this convention, dashed when safe for passing, solid when not.

    So why are bike lanes usually done with solid lines? True, they sometimes become dashed in obvious merge situations, such as approaching a right turn only lane, but why only then? Do cyclists never have to merge to the center to turn left into a side street? Do motorists never have to turn right, through the bike lane, into a driveway or parking lot?

    This makes me believe that all bike lanes, all the time, should have a dashed inside line. Perhaps this would be a clearer indication to cyclists and motorists alike that it's merely a suggested travel lane for bikes, but should be treated by both like any other lane, merged into and out of as necessary, with care. Solid lines, on the other hand, seem to imply that bikes should not leave them, cars should not enter them, and in general imply a sense of segregation that I believe is completely false.

    What thinkest thou?
    But there is a real segregation. CARS MAY NOT USE A BIKE LANE AS A TRAVEL LANE That presents a real problem Solid line and bikes think they can not leave the lane and cars think they should NEVER enter the lane (but of course can cross it leading to right hooks). But a normal dashed line just seperates lanes, result cars will think they [b]CAN[/b/ use it as a travel lane.

    Possible solution. Either dash with a different pattern or color. The problem here is getting 'universal' acceptence of the same solution.

  8. #8
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    What thinkest thou?
    You think too much about a problem that exists only in the mind of those looking for reasons to rant about the evil bike lane menace.

  9. #9
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eubi
    I would say solid lines indicate to cars that they are to stay out of the bike lane unless they are entering/exiting a driveway.
    When turning right, do you think motorists should merge into the bike lane before beginning the turn, or begin the turn from their lane (to the left of the bike lane) and only go through the bike lane during the turn? It's not even clear to me which is proper, and I've never seen it spelled out in any law. Frankly, I'd rather see them pull over into the bike lane ahead of me than see them turn into it suddenly, since a merge is more gradual, thus giving more reaction time.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  10. #10
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    A white line on pavement means to any vehicle that you cannot cross that line. ... Exactly the same rule applies for bike lanes
    So if I'm in a bike lane and I need to prepare to turn left into a driveway, I can't do that because the line is solid, or maybe I have to start my turn from the bike lane? I know that's not what you mean, but that's what I'm getting from your words, because you say that the rule applies to "any vehicle". Is a bike not a vehicle? Or do you mean the solid line applies only to cars but not to bikes? I think that makes for unclear and inconsistant traffic guidance.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  11. #11
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99
    But there is a real segregation. CARS MAY NOT USE A BIKE LANE AS A TRAVEL LANE That presents a real problem Solid line and bikes think they can not leave the lane and cars think they should NEVER enter the lane (but of course can cross it leading to right hooks). But a normal dashed line just seperates lanes, result cars will think they [b]CAN[/b/ use it as a travel lane.
    Well of course cars can't use the bike lane as a travel lane, because it's not wide enough! They shouldn't need a solid line to tell them that!

    Of course I know what you mean: cars should not be travelling with their right halves in the bike lane. But that's just common sense. They don't straddle other lane lines, why would they choose to straddle a bike lane line, even a dashed one, unless maybe they were preparing for a right turn, in which case see my reply above to Eubi.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  12. #12
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    When turning right, do you think motorists should merge into the bike lane before beginning the turn, or begin the turn from their lane (to the left of the bike lane) and only go through the bike lane during the turn? It's not even clear to me which is proper, and I've never seen it spelled out in any law. Frankly, I'd rather see them pull over into the bike lane ahead of me than see them turn into it suddenly, since a merge is more gradual, thus giving more reaction time.
    In AZ a motor vehicle unfortunately must never move forward while in a bike lane, even when making a right turn:

    http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatD...28&DocType=ARS
    "D. A person shall not operate, stop, park or leave standing a vehicle in a path or lane designated as a bicycle path or lane by a state or local authority except in the case of emergency or for crossing the path or lane to gain access to a public or private road or driveway."

    In other states, such as CA, drivers are required to merge into BL before right turning.

    Al

  13. #13
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    You think too much about a problem that exists only in the mind of those looking for reasons to rant about the evil bike lane menace.
    If you said I think too much trying to figure out what makes me so uncomfortable about bike lanes, and how I might be more comfortable with them, I could accept that. But when you start making accusations about my motives, you lose me.
    Last edited by JohnBrooking; 12-21-06 at 10:42 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  14. #14
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Thanks for the legal references, Al. I'm glad to at least hear that the law does attempt to spell out proper behavior, rather than just leave it ambiguous. Interesting that here in Maine, we have absolutely no statutes in regards to proper bike lane behavior. (I've just finished putting together a page summarizing Maine bike law.)
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  15. #15
    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    This just occurred to me the other day. Normal car travel lanes only have solid lines lines separating them close to an intersection, indicating that it's too late now to change lines. The rest of the time, they are dashed, indicating that lateral movement may be done with care. Even yellow center lines follow this convention, dashed when safe for passing, solid when not.
    The convention in Ontario is that all restricted lanes use solid lines. A solid line simply means "not all vehicles may freely pass this line." So the solid line on a bike lane, bus lane, taxi lane, car-pool lane etc. indicates that ALL vehicles may not freely merge across the line, a road user should not blindly assume he/she can cross. The line is there to say, "check the signs before you cross me."

    In a few places we have the bike lane dashed at intersections, usually in older areas without a proper RTOL (a layout I disapprove of). This usage does not seem to be consistent.

  16. #16
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    Solid lines, on the other hand, seem to imply that bikes should not leave them, cars should not enter them, and in general imply a sense of segregation that I believe is completely false.
    This would also follow the pattern pertaining to High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the freeway. They are solid, with dashed portions indicating "exits." Here in Georgia, it's illegal to enter or leave an HOV lane until the lines become dashed. So the solid line indicates "do not cross."

    Perhaps a more accurate striping for bike lanes would be to have a solid line on the outside, indicating to motorists "do not cross," while an inside dashed line would indicate to cyclists, "ok to merge."
    No worries

  17. #17
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    This would also follow the pattern pertaining to High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the freeway. They are solid, with dashed portions indicating "exits." Here in Georgia, it's illegal to enter or leave an HOV lane until the lines become dashed. So the solid line indicates "do not cross."

    Perhaps a more accurate striping for bike lanes would be to have a solid line on the outside, indicating to motorists "do not cross," while an inside dashed line would indicate to cyclists, "ok to merge."
    In AZ, HOV lanes are separated with a solid line, which can be crossed at any time (assuming vehicle requirements and other lane change, etc. laws are followed)

    Your idea for 'accurate' striping is exactly what John suggested.
    Al

  18. #18
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    In AZ, HOV lanes are separated with a solid line, which can be crossed at any time
    Holy cow, are you sure? In neighboring CA, it's a hefty fine to cross the HOV solid stripe at any time. You have to wait until you reach a designated enter/exit area (stripe is dashed).

  19. #19
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    This would also follow the pattern pertaining to High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the freeway. They are solid, with dashed portions indicating "exits." Here in Georgia, it's illegal to enter or leave an HOV lane until the lines become dashed. So the solid line indicates "do not cross."

    Perhaps a more accurate striping for bike lanes would be to have a solid line on the outside, indicating to motorists "do not cross," while an inside dashed line would indicate to cyclists, "ok to merge."
    The HUGE difference between bike lanes and HOV lanes is that HOV lanes are always placed on the roadway where non-HOVs NEVER have to cross, on the left, while bike lanes are almost always placed in space where non-bikes do have to cross (to enter/exit the roadway), on the right.

  20. #20
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Holy cow, are you sure? In neighboring CA, it's a hefty fine to cross the HOV solid stripe at any time. You have to wait until you reach a designated enter/exit area (stripe is dashed).
    I am not 100% sure, but can not find any evidence or law otherwise.
    It would be impossible to use an HOV lane if one could not cross the solid line, there would be no way to get into it. Whe HOV lane use restriction are off (non rush hour) it is used by all vehicles just like any other lane.
    The only law I can find regarding HOV lanes is this:
    http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatD...28&DocType=ARS

    Attached is a photo I took of typical HOV lane implementation. If you note there is a major freeway intersection, the entering ramp on the left side of the road has no way to get into the HOV lane as there is no break in the solid white line (which if there was would be out of picture, but I know this area very well and there is no break behind me from where the pic is taken)

    Al
    Attached Images Attached Images

  21. #21
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    Your idea for 'accurate' striping is exactly what John suggested.
    Not exactly. I was proposing a single dashed line, whereas noisebeam proposed two lines, solid on the car side but dashed in the bike side, and I might like that even better. I'm still not sure it addresses the implication of cars turning right from their own lane instead of merging first, but maybe it's sufficient to address that by spelling it out in the law, as in CA. Of course, then you still need to educate both car and bike drivers that that is the expectation, but at least everyone's teaching from the same page.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  22. #22
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Al, does that sign say "Superstition Freeway"? WTH? (This interface needs a "confused" smiley!)
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  23. #23
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    Al, does that sign say "Superstition Freeway"? WTH? (This interface needs a "confused" smiley!)
    Yep. In this pic it leads toward the Superstition Mountains

    Al

  24. #24
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Al, in your picture, is there an area up ahead where the HOV stripe temporarily becomes dashed within the next mile or two?

  25. #25
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    This makes me believe that all bike lanes, all the time, should have a dashed inside line. Perhaps this would be a clearer indication to cyclists and motorists alike that it's merely a suggested travel lane for bikes, but should be treated by both like any other lane, merged into and out of as necessary, with care. Solid lines, on the other hand, seem to imply that bikes should not leave them, cars should not enter them, and in general imply a sense of segregation that I believe is completely false.
    I totally agree, but this would contradict all those state laws that say 'bicyclists shall use the bike lane if one is provided.'


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