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  1. #1
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    Bike Boxes in Taiwan

    I spent a few weeks cycling in Taiwan recently. My wife and I brought our own bicycles from the 'states and rode part of the way around the island, mostly the scenic east coast, and as well we rode inside Taipei briefly.

    "Bike Boxes" in Taipei (and other larger cities in Taiwan) are really motor-scooter boxes. Effectively, the box takes up one or two right lanes and precedes the crosswalk lines about 10 feet. There's about 200 square feet of space. At red lights, the motorbike (and cyclist) traffic is supposed to filter forward and take this space.

    Unless a car were to turn (illegally) right from the left of the box, you're effectively out of danger of being hit from a right hook. You're also much more visible to drivers and you're able to take your "free" right before other motor traffic. I'm not really that keen on bicycle lanes for safety, but I found this a dramatic improvement of safety, with not so very much inconvenience to cars.

    The areas were denoted with white lines and a figure of a helmeted motorcyclist. Drivers kept out of them. Some areas, like Taitung, had separated lanes for motorbike and cars.

  2. #2
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    are they attached to bike lanes or do the cyclists and scooter riders just split lanes and filter through the traffic to the front?

  3. #3
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    I saw very few cyclists in Taiwan. The scooter riders used any available pavement width to filter to the front, whether it be between vehicles or on the edge of the road. As soon as the light turns green, they moved off to the right even though they were often faster than the car traffic. Scooters were often prohibited from making lefts at major intersections as well. All in all, a strange manifestation of inferiority on the roads.


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    We have about 60 of these in NYC. Portland, OR is starting to put them in as well.

    I think they are pretty good, for the following reasons:
    - More space for cyclists to move ahead of motorists to make a turn in the opposite side of the street from the bike lane (this really only works at red lights, when motorists are stopped behind the bike box).
    - Gives cyclists space in front of motorists without having to invade or pass through the crosswalk...so bike boxes are also good for peds.
    - More road markings making people aware of cyclists.

  5. #5
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    How do bike boxes prevent motorists from (illegally) right-hooking from the through lane?

    How do right-turn-on-red laws relate to bike boxes?

    How are bike boxes configured when there is a right turn only lane and a right-or-through lane? I understand this geometry to be problematic in Portland OR.
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  6. #6
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    I don't know much about Portland, other than they are starting to install bike boxes.

    In NYC there is no turn on red. Many streets are one way. Many bike lanes are on the left-hand side of the road (I think this is to lower the chances of getting doored, and on to avoid the bus lanes on the avenues). Given that environment, often times a NYC cyclist will approach a red light in a bike lane on the lefthand side of the road. If he intends to make a left, there is no problem, but if he wants to make a right, it can be a little trickier. The bike box creates a buffer zone during a red light to change sides or move foreward without interfering with pedestrian space.

    In NYC they are not installed everywhere, but rather where they are deemed to be most useful.

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    Seems like a good idea in Taiwan. I have spent some time there, mainly in Chupei and Hsinchu. These areas are about an hour south of Taipei. Traffic there is pretty much a free for all. The cars basically sit still while the scooters and bikes filter around them. No shoulder or crosswalks there. It is AMAZING that there are not more accidents. Looks like Taipei is a little better for bikes. Don't know if the idea would work here in the states.

    Funny, many of the engineers I have talked to over there want to get a car as soon as they can. It's the final thing that signals "I have finally made it" and am a success. This is even though traffic is horrible and no where to park. Many of their jobs going from Taiwan to mainland China now. Guess we all have the same problems.

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    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    the bike boxes in Portland are going to be garbage. Most if not all of them will be to the right of a combination through/right turn lane. They are not meant to facilitate left turns, they are meant to prevent right hooks. They have been proposed as a 'safety' measure in response to the two right hook fatalities last October. I seriously doubt they will make much difference w/r/t right hook accidents, as they have no functionality at all once the light has turned green.

    Of course, none of this stops the die-hard facilities people from proposing and advocating for these sub-standard infrastructure 'improvements'.
    Last edited by randya; 01-11-08 at 02:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sirlight View Post
    Seems like a good idea in Taiwan. I have spent some time there, mainly in Chupei and Hsinchu. These areas are about an hour south of Taipei. Traffic there is pretty much a free for all. The cars basically sit still while the scooters and bikes filter around them. No shoulder or crosswalks there. It is AMAZING that there are not more accidents. Looks like Taipei is a little better for bikes. Don't know if the idea would work here in the states.
    How do bike boxes help with moving traffic?

    Taipei, like any crowded city, is probably a great place to ride a bike (sadly, I did not have the chance while I was there thanks to a typhoon that blew through). The posted speed limit is 30kph (18mph) and traffic is so bad that it barely reaches that speed.

    Quote Originally Posted by sirlight View Post
    Funny, many of the engineers I have talked to over there want to get a car as soon as they can. It's the final thing that signals "I have finally made it" and am a success. This is even though traffic is horrible and no where to park. Many of their jobs going from Taiwan to mainland China now. Guess we all have the same problems.
    Every person my age (< 30) that I spoke to there only had a motor scooter because the cost of car ownership was so high. I could see how owning an automobile would make someone a success as they obviously would have to have good money to do it. I have no idea why you'd ever want to drive around Taipei though

  10. #10
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    Given the short light cycles on city streets, I can only see bike boxes causing more problems than they solve. Unless you know exactly when traffic will start moving again, attempting to reach a bike box is a recipe for getting right/left hooked. Once you are there, you now get to have everyone you just passed repass you. Seems like more of a hassle than it's worth.

    Now, if you were able to beat motor traffic to the next intersection, there's some benefit of getting ahead of traffic at lights but you can do that without the box.

  11. #11
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    ASLs/ Bike Boxes/Death Traps

    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    How do bike boxes help with moving traffic?
    And do they actually help with stationary traffic? In the UK and Ireland they're called ASLs (Advanced Stop Lines) and have been blamed by at least one source for the death of a cyclist (Emma Foa was killed by a left-hook from a HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle)).

    http://www.movingtargetzine.com/arti...foa-was-killed
    http://www.movingtargetzine.com/arti...re-on-emma-foa


    It seems that unless they are such that they position the cyclist far enough ahead of stopped traffic that they can be seen, and that cyclists don't get caught manoeuvering up the inside of outer lanes and darting across in front of other vehicles to get into the box just as the light turns then they might be a problem.

  12. #12
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    bike boxes were originally a band-aid fix for the right hook problem in Amsterdam. Now, just because they came from Amsterdam, cities everywhere think of bike boxes as god's gift to cyclists, when in fact what they are actually adopting are the worst flaws of the Amsterdam system. And in Amsterdam, they work best when a separate signal phase for bicyclists is included; I don't see Portland doing that on any significant scale anytime soon.

  13. #13
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    are bike boxes good or bad then?
    only one thing is certain, no matter what any city does for cyclists, cyclists will complain about it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonradNYC View Post
    are bike boxes good or bad then?
    what do you think? do the NYC bike boxes make a difference one way or the other?

    I'm just waiting for the day there will be half as many cyclists as motorists and they will have to start giving cyclists complete full-width lanes.



    or to put it another way, what do you think it will take to get cyclist 'mode share' up to 20% + in your typical US inner city?
    Last edited by randya; 01-11-08 at 11:33 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    Given the short light cycles on city streets, I can only see bike boxes causing more problems than they solve. Unless you know exactly when traffic will start moving again, attempting to reach a bike box is a recipe for getting right/left hooked. Once you are there, you now get to have everyone you just passed repass you. Seems like more of a hassle than it's worth.
    Most of the significant signals I saw in Taiwan had the seconds left before the signal would change.

    If the signal will change, just wait in the right lane.

    Cars will eventually pass you, sure, in the left lane. Typically, cars won't retake the right lane unless they want to turn right, then they pass behind you.

    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    Now, if you were able to beat motor traffic to the next intersection, there's some benefit of getting ahead of traffic at lights but you can do that without the box.
    Most of the car traffic in the right lane is turning right, which might be held up due to pedestrians or other issues. So, you're effectively getting ahead, though traffic is turning right. Through (car) traffic tends to migrate left. You end up beating (some) cars to the next intersection just because it takes time to move a line of packed cars.

    It seems that unless they are such that they position the cyclist far enough ahead of stopped traffic that they can be seen, and that cyclists don't get caught manoeuvering up the inside of outer lanes and darting across in front of other vehicles to get into the box just as the light turns then they might be a problem.
    I guess I looked at their usage as optional, and so you'd only maneuver if it were safe and had time to do so based on the light timers. The boxes in Taiwan seemed isolated enough and forward enough to be visible to motorists as well.

    Personally, I felt pretty comfortable on the big streets in Taipei, despite the incredible traffic, compared to your typical ride through a dense city in the U.S. A lack of parked cars lining the streets, perhaps? Or maybe the additional infrastructure or maybe the large number of other two-wheeled traffic to be part of?

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