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Old 08-01-01, 10:35 AM   #1
LittleBigMan
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A new bike lane

I took a different route home yesterday (actually, I wasn't going home, but to meet my wife somewhere.) I had driven it before,
but I had to check out the map to plan my cycling route. Lo, and behold, the road was repaved (smooth!) and with a brand new bike lane, complete with an icon of a stick-figure guy on a bike painted every so often.

I had a deep feeling of gratitude for the gesture (especially the new pavement!) but I also had mixed feelings. So please forgive my apparent lack of thankfulness as I rant for a moment.

Thank you for the bike lane. I know you painted it just for me. But your responsibility for a bike lane does not end with a paint job. Unless you commit to sweep that lane very frequently, my bicycling trip becomes more dangerous than ever before!

Cars avoid bike lanes, which is supposed to be good. But it's the cars that keep rocks and dangerous broken things off the street by sweeping the lanes with their tires.

When you paint a lane, but don't sweep or maintain it, you are dangerously degrading the quality of the road for cyclists, even risking our lives. Dodging gravel is not my idea of safety!

(Gravel and debris, even in a brand-spanking new bike lane! And I mean not just a little!)
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Old 08-01-01, 01:29 PM   #2
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You said it all. Well, almost all... I guess I'd have to add that I'm pretty wary of little pictographs of bikes/riders in the first place. Can't help feeling it's part of the ongoing effort to marginalize non-motor-traffic and eventually get rid of it.
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Old 08-01-01, 02:30 PM   #3
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Within the cycling community, the debate over bicycle lanes has raged for many years. Personally, I hold a somewhat centrist position, guaranteed to offend people on both sides.


On roads with speed limits below 30mph/50kph, I prefer NOT to have bicycle lanes. Where space permits, wide curb lanes are nice, but otherwise, at these speeds, I simply take the curb lane, particularly where on-street parking is permitted. This works fine in many central business districts and typical residential neighborhoods.


On roads with speed limits above 35mph/60kph, I definitely want either a marked bicycle lane, a well-maintained shoulder, or a curb lane wide enough to share side-by-side with motor vehicles. In San Diego County, bicycle lane demarcations become dotted lines as they approach intersections, to signal right-turning motorists to move curbward and to signal through cyclists to move leftward. Thanks to steady pressure from cycling advocates, bike lanes break and re-emerge to the LEFT of right-turn-only lanes, to help prevent right-hook incidents.
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Old 08-01-01, 03:57 PM   #4
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Well, I was all psyched up to be offended, but find myself in total agreement.

We don't have the markings you describe, here in Kansas City, but the principle, if I understand it correctly, coincides with my practice of moving over to the very left of a right-turn+straight-ahead lane, to enable motorists behind me to go ahead and turn right after a stop on red.

I will wave them through with a look back at them and a nod of the head and a magnanimous sweeping gesture of my right hand; perhaps one out of five will take advantage of the opportunity.

I've been reconsidering my chivalry because every now and then the car behind me will charge on ahead when the light turns green again, trapping me between him and the car to my left. I tend more often just to take the entire lane now, because of this unpredictable behavior.

Where I don't want to be, is at the extreme right. Caught there once or twice on a sudden red light, I've dismounted, moved to the sidewalk, waited till traffic cleared and then started up again.
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Old 08-01-01, 04:35 PM   #5
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I tend to sit on the fence a little about marked cycle lanes. Yes, they give a cyclist additional space, but what bugs me about them is that many motorists take the view that cyclists are only allowed to use that portion of the road. There are times when a cyclist would actually extend beyond the lane (avoiding broken glass, making a right turn, or left in the U.S). Then there is also Pete's points about maintenance of that section of the road, which is not always what it should be.

To be honest, I'm beginning to wonder if just a substantial shoulder would be a better and more useful idea. Any thoughts?

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Old 08-01-01, 05:38 PM   #6
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I love the concept of my own bike lane. But it will always amount to "separate, but equal," which is, by definition, always unequal.

:confused:

I would love to use a good bike lane. But I haven't found any to exist. But I haven't cycled the entire metro Atlanta region.

Why should I push for more bike lanes when every bike lane I am ever forced to use is far inferior the the roads I already cycle on?
Why should I accept less than I already have in support of a good "concept?"

The American Indian was driven onto reservations. I am sure it was not by choice.

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Old 08-01-01, 06:16 PM   #7
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Yeah, Jon, I was all set to type in all uppercase at ya, from being offended and all. Just kiddin'. Nah, I don't think it's far from the mark of what I think as well.

I just wish there were wider streets, or paths for bikes. There's this canyon right by my house, and the street is too narrow to really ride on (well, I think so), but a few cyclists ride on it anyway. I just have this cross/sympathy flowers-in-the-road formula. If there are more than 1 or 2 of those things within each mile, then I don't ride on that road. Yeah, I know it's me again, being a scaredy-cat, but well, sometimes I don't feel like taking the chance.
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Old 08-02-01, 02:35 PM   #8
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John, that is very good. I feel the same way. Usually, on slower streets, just a wide lane is much better. A separate lane makes a real mess when there are frequent intersections with right turn lanes. On faster roadways, that have few lights, I can appreciate them more, but only if they are clean.

We, and motorists, should look at the bike lane just like a carpool lane. Only carpool vehicles can be in the carpool lane, but they don't have to be. Likewise, only bikes can be in the bike lane, but they can go into whatever other lane suits the situation - turning, debris, etc.

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Old 08-03-01, 09:47 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by JonR
... the car behind me will charge on ahead when the light turns green again, trapping me between him and the car to my left. I tend more often just to take the entire lane now, because of this unpredictable behavior...
This has happened only once to me, but it was very disconcerting. The trick is to position yourself all the way up to the limit line and just left enough to allow right-turning motorists to squeeze through. You don't want to sit so far to the left that a nonturning motorist can squeeze past you without having to execute an extremely awkward zig-zag motion.

My British friends refer to passing on the inside (i.e., on the left in the U.S. or the right in the U.K.) as "overtaking," and passing on the outside as "undertaking." I think I like the terminology ...
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Old 08-03-01, 06:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by John E


This has happened only once to me, but it was very disconcerting. The trick is to position yourself all the way up to the limit line and just left enough to allow right-turning motorists to squeeze through. You don't want to sit so far to the left that a nonturning motorist can squeeze past you without having to execute an extremely awkward zig-zag motion.
This is good advice. Another thing I do is change into a lower gear on the approach to a red light. That way, I've got better acceleration when it goes green.

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