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Old 02-01-09, 09:25 PM   #1
Ngchen
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Conversions of shoulders to bike lanes

How feasible is it to convert existing shoulders that are already decently wide (4 ft+, preferably 5 ft+)into bike lanes? Speaking as a layman, it seems like for the most part all it would be just a matter of adding bike lane stencils and arrows. Of course, more work would be needed at right-turn lanes and such, but overall it would seem that the cost for such conversion would be really low. And such a conversion can induce more bike traffic, and get car drivers to look out for bikes more. Am I missing something?
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Old 02-01-09, 09:36 PM   #2
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You are buying into a myth. (can induce more bike traffic, and get car drivers to look out for bikes more)
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Old 02-01-09, 10:34 PM   #3
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Just means that drivers will honk at you more aggresively where the lanes are missing. And give them an excuse to let drivers who run over cyclists get out of jail free whenever you choose not to use the lane(or if there was no lane).

I'd be happier with either 'share the road' signs or lower speed limits.


Plus it is easier to make a DIY share the road sign than it is for you do covertly paint white lines on the road... probably cheaper too.
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Old 02-01-09, 11:08 PM   #4
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In many states, cyclists are required to ride in a bike lane if one exists. But they can choose whether or not they want to ride on the shoulder. So if you remove the shoulder, you're removing another choice from the already limited options that cyclists have.

Another problem is that you lose the functionality of the shoulders for breakdowns and parking. Finally, you're depriving pedestrians of their place to walk along highways.

It really seems to me that if you change the shoulder to a bike lane, you'll have everybody pissed off at you--motorists, pedestrians and most of all cyclists.
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Old 02-01-09, 11:25 PM   #5
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I don't know how useful the American bike lanes are. Sometimes they are worse than nothing. Now if you start doing what they have in Copenhagen, then you are on to something. There, you have cycle tracks to the right of not just the traffic lane, but the parking lane on the right of the traffic lane as well. Cycle tracks go one way (each side of street), and are raised to physically separate them from the car/parking roads (to the track's left), and they are also physically separated from the pedestrian walkway (on the right). Generally, they are about seven feet wide. At intersections, the car traffic stops farther back than the bike traffic. Bikes have their own signal to go first at the intersections. The cycle track is brightly colored and/or marked at most intersections where it drops back to car road level (16' before intersection) and gets a little more narrow.
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Old 02-01-09, 11:59 PM   #6
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Will the local juristictions pony up the money for street sweeping the "bike lane/shoulder"? Will rumble strips need to be removed?

Car drivers look out for other traffic and hazards in the travel lanes. They commonly over-look anything on the shoulder. This is especially dangerous for cyclists around intersections. Why would you want to ride in an inferior and more dangerous place?
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Old 02-02-09, 04:33 AM   #7
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You have to have shoulders to start with...in NC quite often the fog line is at the extreme right hand edge of the pavement, I have also seen a few that are painted on gravel just off the pavement. Most shoulders I have seen, where they exist, are strewn with glass, blown tires, 2x4's and all the other debris that gets pushed off the highway. I know good and well that the town I live near only owns one street sweeper and the county has none.

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Old 02-02-09, 08:25 AM   #8
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I think its more feasible to convert roadspace to the inside of the shoulder for preffered class lanes.

Placing multiple lane roads on a "road diet" to include bikelanes or sharrows and a center thru lane can increase roads ADT and peak hourly thruput by removing left turners from the general traffic lanes while decreasing car/bike conflicts with emphasized mixing zones approaching intersections.
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Old 02-02-09, 08:36 AM   #9
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You are quite correct in seeing road shoulders as a one resource in complete transportation planning. The individual use of a shoulder for riding is sometimes safe and efficient and sometimes not. As with most things, details matter.
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Old 02-02-09, 08:46 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ngchen View Post
How feasible is it to convert existing shoulders ...... Am I missing something?


Dollar for dollar, the greatest contribution to roadway safety, ease of use, and bicycle friendliness is to have a shoulder on the roadway. They are my primary factor in determining whether I will ride on that road or not. I won't enter the detailed 'bike lane' debate; but my attitude has always been that the shoulder IS the bike lane. I rarely enter the the traffic lane; and cars rarely enter the shoulder; and so a reasonable compromise takes place.

But (curses!) what do ya do in urban areas where a shoulder doesn't exist? !

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Old 02-02-09, 09:00 AM   #11
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Of course I am assuming that a shoulder exists to begin with. Also, there needs to be a "no parking" rule except in genuine breakdowns that is enforced with regard to it, and that there shouldn't be rumble strips. In terms of debris accumulation, I am actually curious as to whether shoulders accumulate more or less than bike lanes; one would think that the debris accumulation would be roughly equal.

Something else I'm wondering about is the "sweeping effect" of cars and such. Since cars sweep the lanes clear of debris, then hypothetically if there is enough bike traffic, would the bike traffic sweep the BL too?
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Old 02-02-09, 09:17 AM   #12
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Of course I am assuming that a shoulder exists to begin with. Also, there needs to be a "no parking" rule except in genuine breakdowns that is enforced with regard to it, and that there shouldn't be rumble strips. In terms of debris accumulation, I am actually curious as to whether shoulders accumulate more or less than bike lanes; one would think that the debris accumulation would be roughly equal.

Something else I'm wondering about is the "sweeping effect" of cars and such. Since cars sweep the lanes clear of debris, then hypothetically if there is enough bike traffic, would the bike traffic sweep the BL too?

I don't mind the rumble strips if the shoulder is wide enough, becaue I think they perform the safety function of warning cars about drifting to the right.

I find most shoulders are pretty debris free, except in the early spring when the sand from winter ice treatment has accumulated and is hard to sweep away.

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Old 02-02-09, 09:26 AM   #13
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Of course I am assuming that a shoulder exists to begin with. Also, there needs to be a "no parking" rule except in genuine breakdowns that is enforced with regard to it, and that there shouldn't be rumble strips. In terms of debris accumulation, I am actually curious as to whether shoulders accumulate more or less than bike lanes; one would think that the debris accumulation would be roughly equal.

Something else I'm wondering about is the "sweeping effect" of cars and such. Since cars sweep the lanes clear of debris, then hypothetically if there is enough bike traffic, would the bike traffic sweep the BL too
?
Sweeping often is a serious problem in bike lanes. The road commission is supposed to sweep BLs, becuase they are part of the roadway. The shoulder is not part of the roadway so there is less impetus to sweep them. From this point of view, a shoulder converted to a BL might be favorable.

BLs and shoulders would both accumulate car-swept debris equally. Bikes do not sweep pavement, no matter how many of them there are.
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Old 02-02-09, 11:12 AM   #14
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As a practical matter, how would "adding bike lane stencils and arrows" benefit cyclists? If the shoulder is there and is suitable for riding, cyclists will use it. If it's not suitable for riding, only bad things come from marking it as a bike lane.

Maryland, where I ride a lot, has a mandatory shoulder use law in addition to a mandatory bike lane law. In fact, the law makes not distinctin between shoulders and bike lanes. The only difference is if a shoulder meets AASHTO standards it gets a bike lane sign.
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Old 02-02-09, 03:14 PM   #15
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As a practical matter, how would "adding bike lane stencils and arrows" benefit cyclists? If the shoulder is there and is suitable for riding, cyclists will use it. If it's not suitable for riding, only bad things come from marking it as a bike lane.
Precisely. Unless the government responsible for the roadway is prepared to properly clear snow and debris from the shoulder (hint: most aren't), marking the shoulder as a bike lane is worse than useless. Motorists never see the slush, broken glass, and horse dung that make the shoulder or bike lane unrideable; they only see a crazy guy on a bike who should be over in the bike lane and not on the road.
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Old 02-02-09, 06:19 PM   #16
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Because it is not a part of the roadway. Inspections, fixing and things don't get spent.
The roadway needs to be in good standing hence the leave the shoulder when things get tough.
Saves lots of money for everyone. Shoulders are extensively used in Tucson, you get 10 feet wide shoulders.
A bike lane needs to be 5 feet or sub standard. Tucson would be limited to this. Also Tucson eliminates the gutter pan which gives you a little more riding room.
A bike lane will cost extra money keeping "part of the roadway" in working condition. Sweeping is just one cost.
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Old 02-02-09, 07:02 PM   #17
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A bike lane will cost extra money keeping "part of the roadway" in working condition. Sweeping is just one cost.
At least up here in frost country, wide paved shoulders delay the breakup of traffic lanes, allowing for less frequent paving. Over the course of time, the costs work out to be about the same either way, apparently.

That is part of the stated rationale for the local government's inclusion of wide paved shoulders on new road construction (and yes, despite my previous post, I'll admit that they do stencil some pretty pictures of bikes on the pavement at the same time. )
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Old 02-03-09, 03:20 PM   #18
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At least up here in frost country, wide paved shoulders delay the breakup of traffic lanes, allowing for less frequent paving. Over the course of time, the costs work out to be about the same either way, apparently.
another reason for wide shoulders here in the north is to provide a place to put the snow. Of course, that means the wide shoulder is narrow or nonesistant for 4 months of the year. And believe me, the same is true of bike lanes. Snow plow operators seemt to make no distinction between shoulders and bike lanes, do they?
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Old 02-03-09, 06:17 PM   #19
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How feasible is it to convert existing shoulders that are already decently wide (4 ft+, preferably 5 ft+)into bike lanes? Speaking as a layman, it seems like for the most part all it would be just a matter of adding bike lane stencils and arrows. Of course, more work would be needed at right-turn lanes and such, but overall it would seem that the cost for such conversion would be really low. And such a conversion can induce more bike traffic, and get car drivers to look out for bikes more. Am I missing something?
I think it would be pretty costly. Most paved shoulders are in pretty poor condition, and are loaded with debris. Plus there's often a significant ledge or groove where the lane meets the shoulder. To be usable ("as far to the right as practicable" in Michigan) they'd need to be cleaned, repaved, and maintained.
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Old 02-03-09, 07:52 PM   #20
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Our sholders have been disappearing. With the addition of dummy lane (left turn specific), there seems an override to omit bikelane inclusion altogether here in southern nj.
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Old 02-03-09, 08:03 PM   #21
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The only paved shoulders around my area is next to 2 lanes traveling at 65+ MPH. It's wide, and traffic is relatively light, but we're almost never on any portion of it.

I ride 3-5,000 "country" miles a year and I really have no choice but to ride in the lane because there literally is no shoulder. Traffic is light.

Gotta tell you that it always spooks me a little when I'm on a wide shoulder. When I'm in the lane, there are predictable changes cars make to speed and position that tell me if they see me (mirror). It happens in plenty of time for me to take evasive actions. Most change nothing when I'm on that shoulder, so I don't know if they see me or if they are just texting and are about to drift into the shoulder. We've lost some members that way.
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Old 02-03-09, 08:10 PM   #22
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Bike Lanes don't mean anything to me.





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