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  1. #1
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    What do you all think of this article about added safety due to bicycle lanes?

    http://www.engr.utexas.edu/news/arti...1097/index.cfm

    Well, I personally think that this study may have fallen prey to having found what they expected and not asking all or the right questions.

    What is the verdict?

  2. #2
    genec genec's Avatar
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    "Stay between the lines... the lines are your friend."

    Look perhaps the "science" was a bit "loaded," but the fact remains that motorists like guidance, and lines give guidance.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Not this again. We had at least one huge thread on this nonsense maybe a year ago.

    The study's conclusions are based on the assumption that it is undesirable for a driver to have to change lateral position in order to pass a cyclist and it is preferable to have him maintain course and speed. While this may seem like a perfectly reasonable assumption (largely stemming from our freeway mentality), it does not hold up in urban and suburban settings with frequent intersections and lots of crossing movements, which are the biggest threat to a cyclist's safety.

  4. #4
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    "cylists on a road that provided an unmarked, four-foot lane tended to hug the curb dangerously close. Safer cyclist behavior occurred with a striped lane the same width."
    Like this?


    "Without a marked bike lane, they veered away from bicyclists, crossing into the next motorist lane nearly nine out of 10 times.
    Often, they veered so far in an apparent effort to avoid a collision that they swerved a full four feet into the next motorists’ lane."

    Meaning motorists give cyclists sharing a lane with no bike lane stripe more room?

    Al

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    "cylists on a road that provided an unmarked, four-foot lane tended to hug the curb dangerously close. Safer cyclist behavior occurred with a striped lane the same width."
    Like this?


    "Without a marked bike lane, they veered away from bicyclists, crossing into the next motorist lane nearly nine out of 10 times.
    Often, they veered so far in an apparent effort to avoid a collision that they swerved a full four feet into the next motoristsí lane."
    Great picture! I love your shadow showing you out in the traffic lane!

    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    Meaning motorists give cyclists sharing a lane with no bike lane stripe more room?
    Yes, as if that's a bad thing. The whole study is a great example of GIGO. In this case the Garbage-In are faulty assumptions based on typical poor understanding of traffic cycling safety.

  6. #6
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    out in the traffic lane!
    There are at least four reasons to be out of the bike lane in this place/time:
    1. Passing the other cyclist
    2. The immediate driveway to the right
    3. A bit ahead the line of cars with ~50% of them crossing the BL to enter a RTOL lane. This is the primary reason I am always out of the bike lane at this point.
    4. So I can be in thru lane when crossing arterial intersection ahead instead of RTOL which the BL feeds right into.

    Al

  7. #7
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    The fact that they describe drivers moving between lanes as "veering" rather than just what it is, moving between lanes, speaks volumes about the bias of the authors regarding ordinary traffic interactions.

    "Veering" implies a lack of looking and yielding. But the authors do not test whether those drivers are failing to look and yield or not. The default assumption by some traffic engineers is that any action taken by a straight-traveling automobile driver to avoid a cyclist, no matter what the reliability of that action, is a bad thing. Better to pass the cyclist at close distance than to acknowledge their existence and merge with other traffic to give them comfortable space.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
    The fact that they describe drivers moving between lanes as "veering" rather than just what it is, moving between lanes, speaks volumes about the bias of the authors regarding ordinary traffic interactions.

    "Veering" implies a lack of looking and yielding. But the authors do not test whether those drivers are failing to look and yield or not. The default assumption by some traffic engineers is that any action taken by a straight-traveling automobile driver to avoid a cyclist, no matter what the reliability of that action, is a bad thing. Better to pass the cyclist at close distance than to acknowledge their existence and merge with other traffic to give them comfortable space.
    Yup. Also they seem to be saying that less passing room between the bike and hte car means better.

    Bicyclists are also less likely to ride on sidewalks when on-street bike lanes exist. When they ride on sidewalks, studies have shown that it increases their accident risk 25 times. This occurs primarily because motorists pulling onto roadways tend to focus on street traffic. As a result, a driver may fail to see sidewalk bicyclists and collide with them when the cyclists cross a driveway where motorists are merging into roadway traffic.
    This bit however is a ray of sunshine in the report and may in and of itself support the final conclusion. They should be dealing with what works with the real cyclists they actually have in hte state, not some ideal cyclists or for that matter some ideal drivers.

  9. #9
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    I think it's a good study. Bike lanes give drivers the assurance that cyclists will stay within their lane and act predictably; thus they can drive past us without taking any precautions against possible erratic behavior. This is exactly the way drivers treat other drivers in adjacent lanes. Isn't that the whole point, to encourage cars to regard us as bonafide vehicles on the road?

  10. #10
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Bikesalot View Post
    I think it's a good study. Bike lanes give drivers the assurance that cyclists will stay within their lane and act predictably; thus they can drive past us without taking any precautions against possible erratic behavior. This is exactly the way drivers treat other drivers in adjacent lanes. Isn't that the whole point, to encourage cars to regard us as bonafide vehicles on the road?
    Makes sense to you and I, but as you can see from the replies above, there are seemingly all sorts of "excuses" one can make to dismiss such a report.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Bikesalot View Post
    I think it's a good study. Bike lanes give drivers the assurance that cyclists will stay within their lane and act predictably; thus they can drive past us without taking any precautions against possible erratic behavior. This is exactly the way drivers treat other drivers in adjacent lanes. Isn't that the whole point, to encourage cars to regard us as bonafide vehicles on the road?
    The problem with this and Genec's view is that it ignores the frequently expressed driver opinion that the cycle lane is the only part of the highway that the cyclist should be on. This makes overtaking another, slower, rider a cause of (vituperatively) shouted complaint/insult/obscenity, etc.

    The point about drivers not feeling it necessary to move out to go past is also valid. All it needs is a larger motor vehicle passing a rider in a strong crosswind when the rider is close to the dividing line (rubbish in the unswept lane/drain covers, etc.) and the potential for a collision is immediately increased. After all, it would be difficult to argue that the cyclist requires overtaking vehicles to give them, say, 3' (inadequate in most countries - in France it's 2m) room, while simultaneously saying that you don't have to move out to give them that amount of space if they are in an adjacent lane

    The argument also assumes that all cycle lanes are properly designed and of sufficient width (6' -2m, preferably) to make the rider safer - and there are no right hooks with the cycle lanes forumers ride in, are there?

    It also seems to me that the call for cycle lanes (by legislators) is posited on the belief that the rear end collision is the most likely danger that a rider will face (so to speak), whereas it is one of the rarest. Cycle lanes do not address the problems caused by drivers cutting across the cyclist, regardless of the direction of the turn, neither do they reduce the likelihood of a driver coming out of a sideroad/driveway/carpark, etc., without looking properly.

    Another fairly common problem arising from cycle lanes arises when the cyclist is riding along a cycle lane past a line of traffic, and one of those drivers leaves a gap at a junction and flashes an oncoming driver to turn. The turning driver will rarely look for the rider whose path he is crossing - splaat!

    None of the above, Genec, are excuses, but reasons for considering the inadequacies of cycle lanes as well as possible virtues (if they are properly designed).

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    Oh, and I forgot to mention the recent Danish study which showed that installing cycling facilities such as lanes, actually increased the number of accidents.

    I think that has been the subject of another post

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    Oh, and I forgot to mention the recent Danish study which showed that installing cycling facilities such as lanes, actually increased the number of accidents.

    I've noticed that installing motor vehicle facilities, such as lanes, also increases the number of accidents.

    I'd be interested in seeing the details of that study.

  14. #14
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    Here in Sacramento, CA. I find the bike lanes completely inconsistent. They appear and disappear seemingly randomly, and the lanes are tight in many places. If there's no bike lane, I have to ride in the gutter, on the sidewalk, or occupy the entire far right lane, as there simply is no shoulder in many places. The last option makes one very unpopular.

  15. #15
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    The problem with this and Genec's view is that it ignores the frequently expressed driver opinion that the cycle lane is the only part of the highway that the cyclist should be on. This makes overtaking another, slower, rider a cause of (vituperatively) shouted complaint/insult/obscenity, etc.
    And without bike lanes the motorist may typically share shouted complaint/insult/obscenity, etc. with any cyclist on the road.


    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    The point about drivers not feeling it necessary to move out to go past is also valid. All it needs is a larger motor vehicle passing a rider in a strong crosswind when the rider is close to the dividing line (rubbish in the unswept lane/drain covers, etc.) and the potential for a collision is immediately increased. After all, it would be difficult to argue that the cyclist requires overtaking vehicles to give them, say, 3' (inadequate in most countries - in France it's 2m) room, while simultaneously saying that you don't have to move out to give them that amount of space if they are in an adjacent lane.
    But the same might also occur to a motorist of a high sided vehicle in a strong wind or in the case of snow, but we don't reconfigure the streets for these weather conditions now do we?

    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    The argument also assumes that all cycle lanes are properly designed and of sufficient width (6' -2m, preferably) to make the rider safer - and there are no right hooks with the cycle lanes forumers ride in, are there?
    Quite valid, perhaps the MUTCD and AASHTO documents can be used to show proper bike lanes (outside of door zones) and these documents can be used in legal cases to highlight improper bike lanes.

    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    It also seems to me that the call for cycle lanes (by legislators) is posited on the belief that the rear end collision is the most likely danger that a rider will face (so to speak), whereas it is one of the rarest. Cycle lanes do not address the problems caused by drivers cutting across the cyclist, regardless of the direction of the turn, neither do they reduce the likelihood of a driver coming out of a sideroad/driveway/carpark, etc., without looking properly.
    Or are bike lanes put in place to simply get cyclists out of the way as I have often heard...

    Regarding the issues of drivers cutting across cyclists... perhaps law enforcement can be made to actually enforce the laws written (such as in CA where motorists must merge into BL).

    Much of the issues that cyclists face on the roads are due to motorists either not treating cyclists as valid users of the road, or not obeying the laws. Either situation is going to be nearly impossible to rectify in this country.

    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    Another fairly common problem arising from cycle lanes arises when the cyclist is riding along a cycle lane past a line of traffic, and one of those drivers leaves a gap at a junction and flashes an oncoming driver to turn. The turning driver will rarely look for the rider whose path he is crossing - splaat!
    Again an issue of motorists not accepting cyclists as valid users of the road and looking for them. This can occur whether a BL is involved or not (and does occur to motorcyclists on a regular basis... so BL are not the cause of the problem)


    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    None of the above, Genec, are excuses, but reasons for considering the inadequacies of cycle lanes as well as possible virtues (if they are properly designed).
    I agree that BL are far from perfect, but if we dissect must other traffic control devices and symbols we can find weaknesses in those too. I know for one that new traffic lights are being tested in the town just east of me... yet one may think that traffic (stop and go) lights have long worked "successfully."

  16. #16
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    Lanes are your friend.
    There will never be widespread, harmonious cohabitation between cars and bikes in the US.
    I'll gladly settle for more lanes that are 'ours' than having constant altercations with cars and
    police trying to prove the unprovable point.
    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

  17. #17
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    And without bike lanes the motorist may typically share shouted complaint/insult/obscenity, etc. with any cyclist on the road."
    Not in my experience. I have had more upset drivers while using roads with bike lanes (both while in and outside of them), 2nd on roads with narrow lanes and never, not even once, on roads with a wide outside lane.

    It is the pavement space/width that reduces 'social friction' between cyclist and motorist, not the stripe. The stripe greatly adds to 'social friction' when the cyclist for many good and legal reasons chooses to ride outside the lane marked for cyclists.

    Al

  18. #18
    Violin guitar mandolin
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    One of the largest problems with bike lanes is that they are not widely seen and are not uniform. I don't really know what to do with them when I see them. They're not designed for the speeds I'm normally traveling, at least the ones I've seen.

    Might be like that sidewalk / bike path debate. Folks who ride upright machines at 7 mph probably do fine. Folks who ride road bikes at 20 mph have to make severe accommodations.

    Personally I like the wide outer lane or even wide shoulder thing. I don't know that I can ride slow enough for a sidewalk without stress. Bike paths are horrifying. I nearly got killed on one by a cyclist who hit me head on. Run off the suckers. Can't go fast.

    Bike lanes. I just don't know how to ride in them either. They do weird and I feel naked.

    Glad I don't live in a city. I'll just ride on the road with the pickup trucks and SUVs!

  19. #19
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Looking at the responses from myself, and mandovoodoo and noisebeam, it is evident that BL mean and have different conditions/situations for different cyclists/areas.

    Based on that lack of uniformity, it would be difficult to say anything "all encompassing" about BL.

  20. #20
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Looking at the responses from myself, and mandovoodoo and noisebeam, it is evident that BL mean and have different conditions/situations for different cyclists/areas.

    Based on that lack of uniformity, it would be difficult to say anything "all encompassing" about BL.
    Which is why when I discuss BLs in a generic sense I assume they at least meet AASTHO guidelines.

    Finding issue with sub-standard BLs is a fun game as it is so easy and there are some really insane ones, but in making arguements for/against them I only consider ones that meet the guidelines. Of course the fact that so many poor BLs get striped is just one problem with the BL implementation process, but not BLs themselves.

    Al

  21. #21
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    The problem with this and Genec's view is that it ignores the frequently expressed driver opinion that the cycle lane is the only part of the highway that the cyclist should be on.
    But isn't the reverse also true, that when there's a bike lane motorist opinion is that motorists don't belong there either? I can tell you I've heard drivers be outraged when another driver goes in the bike lane when he's not supposed to.

    Keeping them out of the space I'm using is most of the battle if you ask me. If a line on the road will help, I'm happy to have it.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  22. #22
    Conservative Hippie
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    Sounds to me like they came up with a conclusion, then made a study to fit.

    It's been my experience that bike lanes and paved shoulders invite higher speed and closer passing (on that part, I agree with the study). They also incite hostility from cagers when a cyclist is presented with a situation where they should not be in the BL.
    Last edited by CommuterRun; 09-26-07 at 06:38 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Bikesalot View Post
    I think it's a good study. Bike lanes give drivers the assurance that cyclists will stay within their lane and act predictably; thus they can drive past us without taking any precautions against possible erratic behavior. This is exactly the way drivers treat other drivers in adjacent lanes. Isn't that the whole point, to encourage cars to regard us as bonafide vehicles on the road?
    But there is not a car lane to the right of a lane that can eventually turn right.

    What the study shows is that the lane marking gives both riders and drivers a sense of confidence. What it fails to show is that this may be a false sense of confidence.

    By far intersections are where the most accidents happpen. Unless very carefully designed bike lanes make the dangerous area even worse. Any improvement in the non-intersections is easily overshadowed.

    But I'll repeat the one counter point. The study did show that it got cyclists off the sidewalk.

  24. #24
    psycho
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    Quote Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
    Personally I like the wide outer lane or even wide shoulder thing.
    i prefer lanes <14'. that legally allows me to 'take' the lane and not be forced to ride in/near the gutter (guaranteed flat).
    i live in the greater dallas area and have never seen/used a bike lane but doesn't all the road debris end up in the bike lanes? they rarely (if ever) sweep the roads around here.

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