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Old 02-27-07, 07:33 PM   #1
geetlord
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bike lanes in 40+ mph zones?

One of my largest consistent problems when cycling around town is that at some point or another I will need to travel allong a roadway where the posted speed limit is 40+mph with fairly heavy trafic. In most cases there are both sidewalks and bikelanes allong these roadways.

I can personaly only manage around an average of 17mph so the speed differential is significant. If I ride in the road I WILL slow down trafic which tends to lead to large proportions of cars buzzing me, or riding dangerously close behind me (as little as 3 feet in a couple of cases). In these cases I worry that unexpectd road conditions/debris will leave me with little space or time to manuver. I've also had my helmet clipped once by a passing truck with wide mirror mounts who apparently thaught that they had given me enough space when passing.

On the other hand If I ride in the bike lane, because of the heavy traffic cars are much more likley to not notice me. Because of the heavy traffic the bike lanes significantly increase my risk of getting caught by cars turning right without checking for cyclists. This has also caused many near accients for me which were hard to avoid as the cars failed to signal their turns.

Finaly the side walk is heavily traveled with pedestrians and has telephone poles positioned directly in the center of the paved walkway making it difficult to ride allong in general.

Can anyone offer advice as to how to navigate this situation? I dont really want to knwo which is better, bike lanes or riding with trafic, as far as I can tell both are pretty poor in this situation. Im more looking for tips for how to take these roadways as safely as I can. My current method is to ride just outside of the bikelane in order to force motorists to notice my existance, and use the bikelane as an excape area if I get crowded out, or run into poor road conditions.
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Old 02-27-07, 07:48 PM   #2
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I ride the same whether the road has a bike lane or not.

During gaps in traffic, between intersections, I leave the road margin and use a lane controlling position in the main traffic lane, during which time I monitor for faster traffic approching from behind. When they get "close enough", I merge back into the margin, where I stay until the next gap or intersection, whichever comes first.

On roads where the outside lane is narrow - where the cars are generally driven in the margin or very close to it, then I just control the outside lane the entire time.
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Old 02-27-07, 07:48 PM   #3
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increase your conspicuity with a high vis ANSI vest. wear it during the day, not just at night. Get tougher, wider tires that won't be affected by road conditions as much.

WHY, pray tell, do you think drivers don't notice cyclists in other lanes? did you read that nonsense in bike forums? If you increase your conspicuity using visual ques, the drivers will notice you.

give you safe room on high speed roads is another matter. Some drivers will always think you'll "Belong on the sidewalk" I got one of those chants out the window today, as i slowed a car down for about a hundred yards, when there wasn't even a sidewalk to ride on, just the narrow lane.

Last edited by Bekologist; 02-27-07 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 02-27-07, 07:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
WHY, pray tell, do you think drivers don't notice cyclists in other lanes? did you read that nonsense in bike forums? If you increase your conspicuity using visual ques, the drivers will notice you.

give you safe room on high speed roads is another matter. Some drivers will always think you'll "Belong on the sidewalk" I got one of those chants out the window today, as i slowed a car down for about a hundred yards, when there wasn't even a sidewalk to ride on, just the narrow lane.
It is more notice in the sense of notice, and behave acordingly, my example being that cars often fail to take cyclists into account when turning across a bike lane. When riding allong high speed roads I tend to feel that they may notice me, but not otherwise alter their driving in order to give me a safe amount of space
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Old 02-27-07, 08:35 PM   #5
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I have to ride roads like these once a week, and I must admit I'm not too fond of them. I think Bek's got some great advice about making yourself as physically visible as possible. I run my rear blinkie even in daylight. I do mainly stay in the bike lane, but in the outer third. When I aproach an intersection, I take a lane. Have you seen I-Like-To-Bike's tall pole and light set up for his commute? Do you think your riding condition would improve with something like that?
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Old 02-27-07, 09:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
increase your conspicuity with a high vis ANSI vest. wear it during the day, not just at night. Get tougher, wider tires that won't be affected by road conditions as much.

WHY, pray tell, do you think drivers don't notice cyclists in other lanes? did you read that nonsense in bike forums? If you increase your conspicuity using visual ques, the drivers will notice you.

give you safe room on high speed roads is another matter. Some drivers will always think you'll "Belong on the sidewalk" I got one of those chants out the window today, as i slowed a car down for about a hundred yards, when there wasn't even a sidewalk to ride on, just the narrow lane.
Something else to consider, is run a rear blinky light at all times that you are riding, day or night, many of them get like 1000 hours on a battiery, it's just like a slower moving car or truck using their 4 way flashers, it gets noticed. One issue though, make sure that the blinky is fully visible from the rear, especially if you use panniers or a rear rack.
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Old 02-27-07, 09:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I ride the same whether the road has a bike lane or not.

During gaps in traffic, between intersections, I leave the road margin and use a lane controlling position in the main traffic lane, during which time I monitor for faster traffic approching from behind. When they get "close enough", I merge back into the margin, where I stay until the next gap or intersection, whichever comes first.

On roads where the outside lane is narrow - where the cars are generally driven in the margin or very close to it, then I just control the outside lane the entire time.
I think you need to take video of your method and present it on You Tube so others can fully understand how it works.
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Old 02-27-07, 09:46 PM   #8
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The high-vis gear also sends a message that you're serious about this, and that it's not worth it to mess with you because nobody will be able to claim "Officer, I didn't see him." Nobody is going to dismiss you as some lowlife on his way to get another six-pack of tall boys if you've got high-visibility gear.

As for right hooks, what are you doing to not get caught in one? I look back at whoever is coming up behind me as I approach a right-hook situation. That usually stops any thought of right hooking me. And if it doesn't, I certainly don't just let it happen. I'm not so stubborn I won't just slow down and let them go ahead with it.

But definitely in your situation the sidewalk is out and the bike lane sounds like your best bet. 17 isn't so fast you can't see the obstacles coming up ahead of you so you can be prepared.
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Old 02-27-07, 09:51 PM   #9
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High traffic volume and speed roads are exactly the type of roads bike lanes are meant for. Eliminate the dooring hazard, figure out a safer way to treat intersections, and perform routine cleaning and you've done about all you can do. If you don't like the bike lane designation, just stripe the shoulder w/o BL symbol and call it good.

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Old 02-27-07, 09:51 PM   #10
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Must be nice to have bike lanes on 6okph roads. My town has zero bike lanes as of yet. I just ride and hope for the best. Been commuting for better part of 20 years and no hits yet.
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Old 02-27-07, 09:59 PM   #11
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I've been riding in back streets instead of some of the major roads that I normally use and I am enjoying myself a lot more.

Since I work in two different places, I have to take a completely different route 2 days a week .... 50 mph road !!!!! very wide shoulder but its full of glass and nails... so I ride the road and it's scary as hell no matter how visible I am, and I still get buzzed almost every time.... =(
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Old 02-27-07, 10:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RomSpaceKnight
Must be nice to have bike lanes on 6okph roads. My town has zero bike lanes as of yet. I just ride and hope for the best. Been commuting for better part of 20 years and no hits yet.
You are a VC hero! But what's this about 'nice to have bike lanes'?

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Old 02-27-07, 10:33 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
The high-vis gear also sends a message that you're serious about this, and that it's not worth it to mess with you because nobody will be able to claim "Officer, I didn't see him." Nobody is going to dismiss you as some lowlife on his way to get another six-pack of tall boys if you've got high-visibility gear.

As for right hooks, what are you doing to not get caught in one? I look back at whoever is coming up behind me as I approach a right-hook situation. That usually stops any thought of right hooking me. And if it doesn't, I certainly don't just let it happen. I'm not so stubborn I won't just slow down and let them go ahead with it.

But definitely in your situation the sidewalk is out and the bike lane sounds like your best bet. 17 isn't so fast you can't see the obstacles coming up ahead of you so you can be prepared.
I think I'm goign to try getting some high visibility gear of some sort, it seems to be the single biggest thing I can do to help me get drivers atention.

As far as right hooks go, I generaly slow down to let the car pass in front of me if it is safe to do so. If I can clear the intersection quickly to give them more space, I do that instead. My bigest problem is if the driver just dosnt use a turn signal and leaves me with little or no warning of a turn. This sometimes leaves me stuck between the car as it slows down to turn and the intersection that it is intending to turn into. In these cases I try to clear the intersection as quickly as posible and get the drivers atention by waving at them to give me some space.
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Old 02-27-07, 10:39 PM   #14
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Mirror helps a lot to be safe and *feel*, too. I can see cars preparing for the right turns well in advance and make certain it is safe. 3/4 of my commute is on roads like that.
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Old 02-27-07, 10:46 PM   #15
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a technique for avoiding a right hook is, IF a driver begins to pass you approaching an upcoming intersection, feather back, and move aggressively into their 'draft' off their left side.

not approp for all these situations, but it works in some scenarios. Avoiding the hook situations first off is better. moving left, pointing out, waving off, etc. all work to some degree as well. watching your 180 is important.

I'd definetly recommend the ANSI vest day or night, and the daytime visible blinky as well like others have posted. get yourself a Planet Bike Superflash.

conspicuity. be very visible.
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Old 02-27-07, 10:55 PM   #16
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A regular rear blinky might not be seen during the day. I've got the Planet Bike SuperFlash, and there's no way they'll miss that. It's brighter than my Cateye TL-LD1000.

Look for a safety store in your area that sells to construction companies, or google ansi safety vests to find some online.

For night riding, try using the Glo Glove. It's great for signalling.
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Old 02-28-07, 07:28 AM   #17
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Part of my commute is through a big industrial park. 40-50 mph traffic and a bike lane is my life. If there's a properly designed bike lane, I use it. It's stupid not to.

Of course, if the bike lane is ending 300 meters down the road, or there's a truck parked in it, then I take the lane well ahead of time.

Another part of my commute is a very wide two lane road where I think the posted speed limit is 55, which means most traffic goes at about 70 plus.

Here's the way I see it. I can probably survive a right hook. I can also probably avoid one. But some kid who decides to download Eminiem ringtones while streetracing his Honda Civic just might not see me no matter how "visible" I make myself. And in that situation, I'd be very dead.

Perhaps it's an irrational fear. But it's somewhat like B-17 crews in WWII. Even though flak destroyed fewer bombers than German fighters, the crews feared flak more becasue there wasn't anything they could do about it, wheras they could at least shoot back at the fighters.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:35 AM   #18
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Weekends I ride early to avoid crowds, if I can I ride midweek after the rush hours settle down. I know which roads get the most traffic and what time that traffic will be. Some roads I avoid (mira mesa bl) as it is suicidal to try and ride a road with a shared right lane that is barely wide enough for a full size pickup. On those roads I'll stay basically in the gutter for the short distance I have to navigate it to get to a friendlier road. That would include even an alley or a side street.
Not many spots I can't work around a scary piece of asphalt but yes, sometimes one has to.
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Old 02-28-07, 09:03 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
a technique for avoiding a right hook is, IF a driver begins to pass you approaching an upcoming intersection, feather back, and move aggressively into their 'draft' off their left side.
+1
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Old 02-28-07, 09:42 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geetlord
. My current method is to ride just outside of the bikelane in order to force motorists to notice my existance, and use the bikelane as an excape area if I get crowded out, or run into poor road conditions.
This is close to what HH suggested. Its similar to what I do to. Between gaps of traffic (which I guess are proably rare) ride fully outside, move to bike lane to let faster vehicles pass, unless there is debris in it or an intersection right ahead.

I think WIDE (not sub standard AASTHO compliant 4-5' wide) well maintained on long (1-2mi)intersectionless stretches work fine - but as soon as intersections are involved the lane put ones in a right hook prone position.

Bek gave the advice to merge left behind right turners. This can work too and I've done it many a time, but I prefer to alrady be [3/7 edit: 'in front', not 'behind'] the turning vehicle instead of needing to quickly respond.

Al

Last edited by noisebeam; 03-07-07 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 02-28-07, 10:54 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
a technique for avoiding a right hook is, IF a driver begins to pass you approaching an upcoming intersection, feather back, and move aggressively into their 'draft' off their left side.
Here is a video of nearly this technique.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7jKckRlwV0

Al
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Old 02-28-07, 11:06 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by noisebeam
Here is a video of nearly this technique.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7jKckRlwV0

Al
thanks for the link, it really makes this technique much easier to understand.
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Old 03-07-07, 02:06 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by noisebeam
Bek gave the advice to merge left behind right turners. This can work too and I've done it many a time, but I prefer to alrady be behind the turning vehicle instead of needing to quickly respond.
I've done both of those, but my preference is to already be in front of right turning vehicles.
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Old 03-07-07, 10:30 AM   #24
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I've done both of those, but my preference is to already be in front of right turning vehicles.
Ooops, I meant 'in front' as well.

If cycling in an area where traffic is faster than cyclist (like where I mostly ride), then 'in front'. If traffic is slower, the 'behind' is appropriate.

Al
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Old 03-07-07, 10:42 AM   #25
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how you guys consistently ride 'in front' of faster, 40MPH + moving traffic defies simple laws of physics. I do when there is no better alternative, but with a safe and acceptable bike lane to the right, it defies simple logic and 'best cycling practice as well.
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