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Old 11-15-08, 10:37 PM   #1
patc
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Functions of On-Street Bike Facilities

After some... uh... frustration with another thread, here is one of my own.
Please keep responses objective, with a minimum of hyperbole, mind-reading of "intentions", or political bias. Also this is meant only to be functions of the facilities below, I am deliberately excluding problems at the moment. I am also assuming ideal placements.

What are the functions, from a cyclist's point-of-view, of the following? My beer-addled brain (after a long work day) got a start on each.


Narrow Traffic Lane
  • Facilitates taking the lane

Normal Traffic Lane

Wide Curb Lane
  • Facilitates sharing the lane

Signed-Only Bike Route
  • Increases motorist awareness of cyclists
  • Indicate good route choices for cyclists
  • (May) Indicate priority for snow removal and maintenance

Bike Lane
  • Increases motorist awareness of cyclists
  • (May) Indicate priority for snow removal and maintenance
  • Provide some separation between motorists and cyclists
  • Provide a buffer between cyclists and high-speed traffic (e.g. arterials)
  • Allow more predictable passing distance, cyclist control over passing distance
  • Acts as a "priority lane" to by-pass slow traffic/grid-lock
  • Provide a destination-appropriate stopping point at lights where bicycles are allowed to proceed but motor vehicles are not (e.g. "Only bikes may go forward", etc.)
  • Fit into a system of reserved lanes to prioritize traffic flow (e.g. advanced signals)
  • Traffic calming and/or street parking management

Sharrows
  • Increases motorist awareness of cyclists
  • (May) Indicate good route choices for cyclists
  • (May) Indicate priority for snow removal and maintenance
  • Indicate optimum position for cyclists
  • Depending on position, may facilitate taking or sharing the lane

Additions?
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Old 11-15-08, 11:01 PM   #2
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By normal traffic lane I assume you mean something between narrow and wide? I feel that a lane should either be "normal" (standard width) or "wide" (wide enough for 2 vehicles to travel side by side...i.e. right turn lane not marked but a 2nd car can pull up to the right side of a car to make a right turn). The in-between width outside lanes are very annoying and very common where I am and I think they should be illegal.

Edited to change "By normal traffic lane I assume you mean something between normal and wide?" to "...between narrow and wide?"
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Old 11-16-08, 02:18 AM   #3
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The definition of a "normal traffic lane" under the Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC) would be 12 feet wide. The UVC defines a "substandard width lane" as a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the same lane. This presents a problem for cyclist since most states use the UVC "substandard width lane" as a lane that cyclist may take the full lane.

Now the cyclist I know, consider a "substandard width lane" to be any lane 14 feet wide or less.
Most do the math this way:

left lane line|1 foot shy distance|8 feet for bus/truck width| 3 feet passing distance| 2 feet cyclist width| 1 foot shy distance| right side of lane
which = 15 feet needed lane width

So cyclist, be very careful how you define "normal traffic lane".
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Old 11-16-08, 03:34 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by patc View Post
...

Additions?
You forgot to add that SHARROWS RULE.
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Old 11-16-08, 04:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patc View Post
After some... uh... frustration with another thread, here is one of my own.
Please keep responses objective, with a minimum of hyperbole, mind-reading of "intentions", or political bias. Also this is meant only to be functions of the facilities below, I am deliberately excluding problems at the moment. I am also assuming ideal placements.

What are the functions, from a cyclist's point-of-view, of the following? My beer-addled brain (after a long work day) got a start on each.


Narrow Traffic Lane
  • Facilitates taking the lane

Normal Traffic Lane

Wide Curb Lane
  • Facilitates sharing the lane

Signed-Only Bike Route
  • Increases motorist awareness of cyclists
  • Indicate good route choices for cyclists
  • (May) Indicate priority for snow removal and maintenance

Bike Lane
  • Increases motorist awareness of cyclists
  • (May) Indicate priority for snow removal and maintenance
  • Provide some separation between motorists and cyclists
  • Provide a buffer between cyclists and high-speed traffic (e.g. arterials)
  • Allow more predictable passing distance, cyclist control over passing distance
  • Acts as a "priority lane" to by-pass slow traffic/grid-lock
  • Provide a destination-appropriate stopping point at lights where bicycles are allowed to proceed but motor vehicles are not (e.g. "Only bikes may go forward", etc.)
  • Fit into a system of reserved lanes to prioritize traffic flow (e.g. advanced signals)
  • Traffic calming and/or street parking management

Sharrows
  • Increases motorist awareness of cyclists
  • (May) Indicate good route choices for cyclists
  • (May) Indicate priority for snow removal and maintenance
  • Indicate optimum position for cyclists
  • Depending on position, may facilitate taking or sharing the lane

Additions?
In all seriousness, three of the things you have listed under bike lanes are basically the same thing, "Provide some separation...", "Provide a buffer...," "Allow more predictable passing distance..."

Also under bike lanes, "Increases motorist awareness of cyclists" should read "Increases motorist awareness of cyclists in bike lane." Certainly it can not be argued that the existence of a bike lane increases motorist awareness of cyclists who are, say, moving to the left turn lane.

The bike lane as "priority lane to pass slow/gridlocked traffic" is something I quite enjoy about bike lanes, but it really could be argued that the ability to pass is a function of space; wide lanes also carry this advantage, which, line or not, can be and often is nullified by real world conditions, i.e. cement trucks turning right across your path, and thus the advantage is sometimes disadvantageously dangerous depending on the rider's level of awareness.

We're not going to determine the champion surface treatment by counting their advantages/disadvantages. If the sharrow is far superior in promoting motorist awareness of bicyclists, as I believe it is, that in my mind is a lot more important than the spatial segregation of bike lanes. And that sharrow-inspired awareness is pure advantage with no drawbacks that I can see, unlike the unavoidable drawbacks that are created as collateral damage along with the bike lane's unique advantages.

You mentioned earlier that sharrows could potentially confuse motorists. Ideally, yes. Guy might be driving along and drive over one of these crazy cool big double chevron sharrows and think "damn! Am I driving IN some kind of bicycle lane?" In fact he is, and there's no better mindset for a driver to have as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 11-16-08, 05:04 AM   #6
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I still believe that the optimum cycling facility is multiple same direction 12' narrow lanes, too narrow to share, with sharrows and signage indicating that cyclists should use the entire right lane. This would give motorists another (other) same direction lane(s) in which to pass.

I also still believe that the primary purpose of bike lanes is to move cyclists out of the way for the sake of motor vehicle traffic.
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Old 11-16-08, 11:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patc View Post
After some... uh... frustration with another thread, here is one of my own.
Please keep responses objective, with a minimum of hyperbole, mind-reading of "intentions", or political bias. Also this is meant only to be functions of the facilities below, I am deliberately excluding problems at the moment. I am also assuming ideal placements.

What are the functions, from a cyclist's point-of-view, of the following? My beer-addled brain (after a long work day) got a start on each.


Narrow Traffic Lane
  • unambiguously Facilitates taking the lane

Normal Traffic Lane

Wide Curb Lane
  • Facilitates sharing the lane
  • Facilitates by-passing queued traffic. (Thank you Mr. Hurst!)

Signed-Only Bike Route
  • Increases motorist awareness of cyclists
  • Indicate good route choices for cyclists
  • (May) Indicate priority for snow removal and maintenance
  • Bikes belong here.

Bike Lane
  • Increases motorist awareness of cyclists Rather, cyclist activity may be present, but out of the way.
  • (May) Indicate priority for snow removal and maintenance
  • Provide some separation between motorists and cyclists
  • Provide a buffer between cyclists and high-speed traffic (e.g. arterials)
  • Allow more predictable passing distance, cyclist control over passing distance
  • Acts as a "priority lane" to by-pass slow traffic/grid-lock
  • Provide a destination-appropriate stopping point at lights where bicycles are allowed to proceed but motor vehicles are not (e.g. "Only bikes may go forward", etc.) You are conflating "bike boxes" with bike lanes. This ought to be a separate category.
  • Fit into a system of reserved lanes to prioritize traffic flow (e.g. advanced signals)
  • Traffic calming and/or street parking management
  • Bikes belong here.

Sharrows
  • Increases motorist awareness of cyclists
  • (May) Indicate good route choices for cyclists
  • (May) Indicate priority for snow removal and maintenance
  • Indicate optimum position for cyclists
  • Depending on position, may facilitate taking or sharing the lane "Depending on position"? I thought you were demanding that this discussion be restricted to optimal placement and conditions? I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you would drop this wording on reflection.
  • Bikes belong here.

Additions?
Stop signs
  • yield sign
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Old 11-16-08, 03:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by JeffB502 View Post
By normal traffic lane I assume you mean something between narrow and wide?
Yes. "Normal-width" would have been a better choice of wording.
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Old 11-16-08, 03:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
The definition of a "normal traffic lane" under the Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC) would be 12 feet wide. The UVC defines a "substandard width lane" as a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the same lane. This presents a problem for cyclist since most states use the UVC "substandard width lane" as a lane that cyclist may take the full lane.
I deliberately avoided naming specific widths, in part to allow for international variations, and to avoid debate as to what "should" be considered narrow/normal/wide. We can certainly add specifics in later, if desired, but for the start it seemed best to keep it generic.
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Old 11-16-08, 03:35 PM   #10
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Thanks, ChipSeal, for understanding the spirit of the thread. Unfortunately the quoting system here trimmed out your entire post (it saw your blue in-line additions as quoted text). A few comments in return:

Wide-Curb Lanes (or Wide Outer Lane here): I don't consider "by-passing queued traffic" a reliable or inherent benefit - in my experience I can't rely on the road width being available. Some drivers drift right well in advance of a planned right turn, others are just sloppy. I'm not convinced we should list that is a clear feature of WCLs... perhaps say instead "may allow by-passing"?

Can you clarify what you mean by the phrase "Bikes belong here"? If you mean that it reminds motorists they may see bikes on the road, that is the meaning I intended under "Increases motorist awareness of cyclists". If you meant "Bikes [only] belong on this one spot on the road", I consider that a matter of driver misinterpretation and ignorance. I'm not sure that is a function of the facility, so much a function of (lack of) education - and note that I am deliberately leaving out problems caused by the facilities at this point.

Re bike-boxes vs. bike-lanes. I have come across some ambiguity in the term "bike-box", so let me describe what I had in mind (and is in use locally). Multi-lane one-way road. LEFT two lanes go under an overpass, and motorists must turn left. RIGHT two lanes turn right before the overpass. Middle lane is a bike lane, and has its own light signals, it is the only lane which allows traffic to proceed under the overpass and straight ahead. In this specific example above, the bike lane is only one block long, but 1.5m wide or so, not a "box". Is that a (short) bike lane, or a bike-box? (In another examples, we have multi-block bike lanes which, at a specific intersection, have similar positioning and signs/lights allowing only bikes to move in a certain direction. ) Note: add bike-boxes to on-street facilities list.

Sharrows: "Depending on position, may facilitate taking or sharing the lane" - from what I can gather on sharrows, then can be placed in the middle of a lane (presumably to facilitate taking the lane) or closer to the right curb (facilitate sharing). This is what I meant - sorry if my wording was not clear. As far as I can tell, both sharrow placements are possible and in use.

Thanks for the comments. Assuming this thread doesn't get completely derailed, I plan to re-post a more comprehensive list later. I realize we won't have anything close to consensus, but I plan to be generous in what I consider adding. This may be a futile exercise, but I often read a comment from someone who has never dealt with [insert facility here], including myself, so a "functions" list may be somewhat useful.
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Old 11-16-08, 03:51 PM   #11
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In all seriousness, three of the things you have listed under bike lanes are basically the same thing, "Provide some separation...", "Provide a buffer...," "Allow more predictable passing distance..."
I disagree, particularly re: passing distance. However I am planning to make changes to the list to clarify wording and add/remove items later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
Also under bike lanes, "Increases motorist awareness of cyclists" should read "Increases motorist awareness of cyclists in bike lane."
There is a clearly stated and common argument that any on-street cycling facility increases overall motorist awareness of cyclists. I am not intending to judge if that is the case or not, but it seems to be considered by many a function of such. Traffic calming and parking management have also been stated locally as reason for installing a bike lane - while I'm not convinced they do so, it put it on the list.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
The bike lane as "priority lane to pass slow/gridlocked traffic" is something I quite enjoy about bike lanes, but it really could be argued that the ability to pass is a function of space; wide lanes also carry this advantage, which, line or not, can be and often is nullified by real world conditions, i.e. cement trucks turning right across your path, and thus the advantage is sometimes disadvantageously dangerous depending on the rider's level of awareness.
And we can get into a debate of the space really being available or not - from parking in bike lanes to drivers who right-bias in wide lanes. On this one I played it safe and followed my stated guidelines - if everyone follows the law then a bike lane does reserve such space, a wide lane may provide it but does not reserve it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
We're not going to determine the champion surface treatment by counting their advantages/disadvantages.
Good, since that is not my stated purpose here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertHurst View Post
You mentioned earlier that sharrows could potentially confuse motorists.
I mentioned that in another thread, that statement is against the guidelines I set up for myself on this thread. I can not force anyone else to respect my guidelines for the thread, but if you wish to disregard them I will opt not to reply to you. EVERY traffic facility of any type has secondary effects (good and bad) and its share of problems. Worthy discussions, but I am asking for a little bit of focus here.

Since you are a proponent of sharrows, do you have any comments on what I came up with re: the functions of sharrows?
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Old 11-16-08, 09:56 PM   #12
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Thanks, ChipSeal, for understanding the spirit of the thread.

Can you clarify what you mean by the phrase "Bikes belong here"? If you mean that it reminds motorists they may see bikes on the road, that is the meaning I intended under "Increases motorist awareness of cyclists". If you meant "Bikes [only] belong on this one spot on the road", I consider that a matter of driver misinterpretation and ignorance. I'm not sure that is a function of the facility, so much a function of (lack of) education - and note that I am deliberately leaving out problems caused by the facilities at this point.

Thanks for the comments. Assuming this thread doesn't get completely derailed, I plan to re-post a more comprehensive list later. I realize we won't have anything close to consensus, but I plan to be generous in what I consider adding. This may be a futile exercise, but I often read a comment from someone who has never dealt with [insert facility here], including myself, so a "functions" list may be somewhat useful.
"Bikes belong here." I was following the spirit of the thread, which is:
What are the functions, from a cyclist's point-of-view, of the following?

It is cyclists who will get the message of "Bikes belong here". A motorist simply expects us to stay out of their way. A function of cycling facilities from a motorist's point of view is to keep us in our place, but pointing out their view is outside the scope of your thread. (Now aren't you sorry you brought it up?)

But to some of those who advocate bicycle facilities, one of the "functions" of them is to create a space for cyclists, and legitimize cycling activities. To proclaim to all that "bikes belong".

So it is, in my opinion, one of the functions of a signed bike route, bike lanes and sharrows from a cyclists point of view.
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Old 11-16-08, 10:21 PM   #13
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But to some of those who advocate bicycle facilities, one of the "functions" of them is to create a space for cyclists, and legitimize cycling activities. To proclaim to all that "bikes belong".
Still not convinced that comes under objective functions, and not "mind-reading of "intentions", or political bias" - but you've got me halfway there. Let's see what others have to say... if anyone speaks up. Guess the thread isn't controversial enough to get attention
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