My first thought when I saw the picture of that road sign was: "WTF?" I do finally believe that I understand the lane, but I'd have been one confused driver had I been confronted with that sign for the first time while actually out driving.
I don't know whether I'd use the lane or not. I'd have to be there in person to really decide. But the fact that such a complicated road sign is needed is a big, red-flag to me.
Nope I wouldn't use it.
Not too much to say here
Take the lane that goes either right or straight.
At least you won't get right-hooked.
But thanks for the graphic...I'm going to use it in my Scout cycling class...and see how students would handle it.
Fewer Cars, more handlebars!
Sure I would! Right after I get done splicing the 220V feed to my house and sticking one end in each ear.
You'd have to use extra caution navigating through that lane. I can't see many, if any, drivers understanding what that poorly graphed sign means in the short time they have to figure it out while moving. At least there's a giant "Yield to Bikes" under it.
The people who made that sign should read "The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman. It's a great book, and if I remember correctly, he has some examples of traffic signs in there as well.
We have similar situations here in Minneapolis. One-way streets here have bike lanes on the LEFT side of the road. At every intersection, the left turn lane and bike lane become the same lane. Despite signs saying "Left Lane Bikes and Left Turn Only" as well as "Left Turn Yield to Bikes," people turn left from the second-to-the-left lane, causing left-hooks all the time.
I have just gotten used to it, I guess. Haven't been hit yet. I would take the lane but the one I encounter all the time is in a pretty bad area of downtown and I would rather cower and yield to left-turners than to take the lane in front of a vehicle you know is ridin' dirty.
i'd suggest getting the u-lock out of your pants and waving it around above your head as you cruise through that intersection. just think of it as a hand signal that means "don't hit me"
Interesting comments. While most bike lanes don't have the accompanying confusing signage that this one has (or the second right turn lane) a bike lane on any street without dedicated right turn lanes is pretty much the same setup (bike lane going straight to the right of a straight/right combo lane).
I'd use the straight/right lane. With my luck, I'd get pulled over for it too
"Such lanes are common in European cities including Copenhagen and Berlin (where the lanes are actually red; elsewhere, such lanes are yellow or green), and are starting to make their way to the United States, where they've being found useful in reducing bike-car crashes. According to a Portland, Oregon study, the addition of blue lanes dramatically increased the percentage of drivers who properly yielded to bikes, and prompted more cyclists to follow the "recommended" path."
from the article you linked to.
that sign is NOT posted at the intersection where the bicyclist was killed by the dumptruck in Seattle; that type of sign is in use in Portland at bridge merges and diverges. I haven't seen any in Seattle yet. definetly not on Eastlake Ave where the bicyclist died. signage indicating cars yield to bikes is not the cause of this recent tragedy.
the photo below is an example of a blue lane treatment in Portland. and bicyclists, even diehard 'vc', can and do use the blue lane.
Loook at this one
the 'blue lane' treatment would predictably make that intersection safer for bicyclists, kuan.
"According to a Portland, Oregon study, the addition of blue lanes dramatically increased the percentage of drivers who properly yielded to bikes, and prompted more cyclists to follow the "recommended" path."
photo I posted below is of a bike lane similar to the one posted by Kuan, but in Portland with the blue lane treatment.
for a picture of what is actually painted on the road at the intersection conflated by the OP as having a blue lane treatment, view the article at
Last edited by Bekologist; 09-17-07 at 09:51 AM.
Thank you for the clarification, Beke. I couldn't tell from the news article what the intersection was actually like, and obviously I was in error assuming that the sign posted on the first blog article applied specifically to that intersection. (The blog essay made it sound like it was.)
Now, on the picture posted at that blog entry, I don't see where the intersection is. In fact, I see no lane markings at all. Is the intersection behind the photographer?
This is all apart from the issue of blue lanes, but I'm at work and don't have time to think some about that for now. There are just two ideas that leap out at me for now: (1) Painting the lanes blue is no doubt safer than having just two white lines and a stencil, but still begs the question of whether the lanes should be there at all; (2) is the "recommended" path that lane directs the cyclist to necessarily the safest one in the first place? I'm not suggesting there is one answer to either of these that applies in all situations. Like everything else we discuss here, it is very situation dependent.
In a nutshell, that picture typifies what I see as wrong with the North American road design philosophy (not just for cyclists but for all road users. There is far too much instruction, in multiple formats, in too short a space. It's also repetitious and disorganised. The result is that the driver is more induced to react to the instructions than to the conditions and as this scenario repeats itself across the whole of the road system, the learned behaviour is that road users wait for the thinking to be done on their behalf than being encouraged to do it for themselves.
At a guess I would say that new signs have been tacked on wherever they seemed appropriate at the time they have been introduced. I'd also guess that a wider angle shot would reveal yet more street furniture that desperately needs to be assessed and rationalised. The naked streets approach that has been mentioned up-thread is not without it's merits and there are some important lessons that should be learnt from it.
And back to the OP, I would use that lane only if the traffic and conditions meant that it was a safer route.
In the blog entry linked to by Beke, there is an eye-witness account by someone named "Gomez", but it's still unclear exactly what happened. For purposes of this thread, let's be clear that the intersection layout I originally posted about is not necessarily related to the collision under discussion. The intersection sign and the layout it implies is more the issue I meant to call attention to. Not even the "blue lanes" themselves, which look useful if done properly, but blue lanes placed to the right of right-turning car traffic, which is my biggest gripe about it.
personally i don't think cars should be expected to stop for bikes(obviousy if they can't pass you they should slow and wait for an opertune moment etc)....and i say that as someone who doesn't drive...simple fact is cars are bigger that us, and not everyone in them is on the look out for cyclists. to expect all cars to stop for bikes is mental and asking for trouble imo, if us cyclists want to cross and intersection do so under the normal rules or wait until it is clear and safe to do so, best bike lanes imo are the pavements/sidewalks along the side of the road and places where cars can't go(even is it is supposedly illegal to use them, ain't gonny stop me). if they aren't available due to not being there or people being on them, i'll use the road and keep out the way of cars as much as possible.
my philosophy in commuting/road safety is stay the f$@k away from cars if you can!!! served me well so far!
Last edited by seosamh; 09-17-07 at 03:49 PM.
I'm sorry, but until you get automobile traffic down to the speeds of the AVERAGE bicyclist, there will be scenarios where bikes and cars will cross paths- at intersections, leading up to intersections, etc.
The question is: how do communiites mitigate the risk? doing nothing, ensuring greater intersection conflicts, or attempt to increase cognification of bicyclists via the use of blue lanes and other pavement markings?
Studies show that these treatments work in Portland and around the globe.
One thing that will never be removed is bikes crossing automobile paths as they approach intersections... how do you propose bikes always stay to the left of faster traffic?
Still, any idiot knows when they see a cyclist. I'm not defending a poor bike lane design, nor am I attacking it. But how in the world can a truck driver not see and avoid a cyclist? It's not rocket science.
Here is an intersection laid out as the sign in the OP depicts. I don't see what could be done differently. If the bike lane were to the left of the may turn lane, bikes would have to cross the car traffic that was going straight past the intersection to get back into the bike lane. I believe this was the first blue lane installed in Portland, OR and was a major safety improvement for this busy intersection (N. Broadway and Williams).
infrastructure like blue lanes at areas of conflict, however, have documentable and positive effects on bike/car interactions.
Last edited by Bekologist; 09-18-07 at 08:20 AM.
"Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."
Thanks for the may, Dogbait. That's exactly the situation I mean - a bike lane between a RTOL and a right-turn/through lane.
My gripe with the design is that you are relying on right-turning motorists on your left to yield to you. If a cyclist approaches in the bike lane, and there is a car to the left of it with its right turn signal on, does the cyclist have the right of way to pass on the right? Is it really wise? If the car doesn't see you and turns into you, will they be held at fault for failure to yield? Maybe you were in a blind spot. If they say they didn't see you, are they still prosecuted?
Personally, I think I would still move into the right turn/straight through lane next to the BL. If you're in the BL, you're already halfway there. Look for a gap and negotiate, then move into that lane. Probably move right into the center, to prevent through cars from passing you on the right while still allowing right-turners room to turn. As you go through the intersection, move back to right, utilizing that crosshatched area if necessary, to get back to the BL. This may seem intimidating, but I really don't think it's hard, even for beginners.
Again, my gripe is not so much with the blue lane, as its placement. As to what else could be done? I have some ideas, but I have to prepare for a meeting in a few minutes so I'll have to come back later.