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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

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Old 11-03-04, 11:37 AM   #1
Redhed 
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Road with no shoulders....

There is a road with no shoulders near me, where the white lines are literally in some places painted half on the grass, half on the blacktop. It is a twisty, hilly road and the speed limit is generally 40 mph, except for the signs on curves. This is somewhat of a rural area. I have been on my bike in this situation, and in my car coming up on a bike. There are certain spots when you top a hill (in a vehicle) and suddenly "bam" there is a cyclist, which then causes you to swerve into the oncoming lane possibly causing a head on collision.

For a cyclist, it is a challenging, scary, road to ride, but since we have rights to all roads, people ride on it. I finally quit riding roads like this, because it is dangerous.

For a person in a vehicle, it is equally scary because of the surprise factor when coming up on a cyclist.

I thought that next time the road was resurfaced that maybe they could add a shoulder to both sides, the only problem with this is people's property is right up to the side of the road. Eminent domain could be used but I am trying to come up with something that would make everyone happy.

I would like some opinions on what type of solution/compromise would be good for both cyclist and driver, while thinking about the property owners too. Is this possible? Please opine for me. Thanks!
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Old 11-03-04, 12:17 PM   #2
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Talk to some people in the community or write a story and submit it to your local news paper about the dangers of the current situation and the solution you have come up with. Also explain advantages of biking (fun, excersize, money, etc...).
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Old 11-03-04, 12:24 PM   #3
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It seems to me that this is exactly what eminent domain is for. How else could you widen the road or add a shoulder? You're almost certainly not going to get all the property owners to voluntarily sell 3 feet of their property to the state.
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Old 11-03-04, 12:31 PM   #4
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I know what you mean, but if it was your property, and the 3 feet wasn't being used for cyclist advantage, would you want the state to take your 3 feet? I know that this is a possibility, but I would rather try and think of other ways, if there are any. That is why I want your opinions, there are a lot of innovative people here and I was hoping to tap into that. Maybe another community came up with an affable solution that made everyone happy, I would like to hear it.
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Old 11-03-04, 12:36 PM   #5
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Ban motor vehicles from this road. Or, failing that, install cyclist-activated warning signs near the blind curves and hilltops (you see these near the entrances of tunnels).
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Old 11-03-04, 01:09 PM   #6
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This road sounds dangerous to everybody at those speeds. What about a pedestrian, or maybe a stalled car under those conditions? Then, add darkness, rain, or fog into the mix. Perhaps the solution is to campaign to reduce the speed limit.
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Old 11-03-04, 01:11 PM   #7
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I don't know about in the US, but here in Canada, even though your grass goes all the way to the pavement the landowner does not own all the way to the pavement as each roadway occupies a wider right of way. I remember my folks home where the road was 20ft wide but the row was 34 feet. This left room for later ditching and sidewalks for which my dad had no say or renumeration.

My own house sits on an ancient, semi abandoned roadway. By semi abandoned I mean that there are trees growing out of some of the pavement. But then again there's only three old houses down here so we deal with the single lane that results. Even with this old of a road, my land ends some 10 feet from the actual pavement.

Again this may be just a Canadian thing, but I'm sure it's the same in the US. You don't build infrastructure that's exactly the same size as your working space. Even on old roads, room for expansion was left in place. Check with your local land registry office.
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Old 11-03-04, 01:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redhed
I am trying to come up with something that would make everyone happy.
That could be a tall order indeed! In the constant battle of car vs. bicycle, the autos have a decided advantage on nearly every road. They are bigger/faster, and for this reason, they usually take 100% of the roadway whether it's theirs to take or not. If the opportunity exists to help improve this situation, you should consider acting. It's not just for the benefit of the cyclists, but truly for the good of everyone involved.

Eminent domain may not be the most popular of ideas with the land owners, but it may be the best solution for the cyclists, AND motorists who frequent that road. Moreover, it may just save a life.

Good luck with your quest, and let us know when/if anything developes.
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Old 11-03-04, 01:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caloso
It seems to me that this is exactly what eminent domain is for. How else could you widen the road or add a shoulder? You're almost certainly not going to get all the property owners to voluntarily sell 3 feet of their property to the state.
I regularly ride a short distance on a road like this, and I have to admit that it's pretty scary. 3 feet would be great, but just a 6 inch shoulder (to the right of the white line) would go a long way.

I'm wondering if it's common practice to just paint the lines as wide as the surface permits, or if there is an official width to the lanes. If the lanes are wider than "ordinary" (whatever that might mean), then just painting the lines closer to the middle to leave a small shoulder could help.

Any civil engineers in the audience?
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Old 11-03-04, 02:57 PM   #10
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Around here many of the rural roads have grooves cut into the pavement in the shoulder to wake up drivers who go over the white line. It is far to much vibration to ride for any distance on these grooves, so I ride in the road, but mostly avoid these roads.

Al
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Old 11-03-04, 03:02 PM   #11
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You could concentrate your argument about how a wider road/shoulder would be in the interests of motorists. The wide roads would give cars more space, and the extra space might even allow cars to pass cyclists without delay (again, think of the motorists' interest).
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Old 11-03-04, 03:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
Around here many of the rural roads have grooves cut into the pavement in the shoulder to wake up drivers who go over the white line. It is far to much vibration to ride for any distance on these grooves, so I ride in the road, but mostly avoid these roads.

Al
We have those too, and one day I was forced to ride over it, on my road bike. I was going about 38 mph down a hill. My first thought was of Lance on the cobblestones. I plan to avoid these at all costs next time.

I do have an opportunity to be a voice in this dilemma. That is why I am asking for varying opinions. I want to hear what all cyclists think so that I can bring several suggestions to the table. I plan to do a lot of research and be well prepared. I do want to make a difference and make both sides feel good about it.

Oh BTW, thanks for your replies so far!
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Old 11-03-04, 03:27 PM   #13
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In a case like that, I ride in the right 1/3rd of the lane. That way, the car has to see you and manuver around you or hit you.
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Old 11-03-04, 04:00 PM   #14
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Why not add a shoulder only on those places where a cyclist would not be visible from 100 yds behind. This would allow a car to pass safely when it comes to a cyclist, rather than having to do an emergency brake if there is oncoming traffic. This would require less construction work, and reduce the impingement on peoples front yards, but would require more survey work and planning.

100 yds visibility would give a 40 mph car over 10 secs to slow down to avoid a collision with a 12 mph bicycle
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Old 11-03-04, 04:32 PM   #15
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In South Carolina, nearly every single road has no shoulder on them at all. I've never been involved in a car vs bike accident yet in this state in over 5 years.

I have however been involved in car vs bike accident in Maryland, riding along the shoulder when a car pulled right out in front of me and nailed me. I was okay, just my ego was bruised. However, my wife had her upper leg broken while riding on the shoulder in Glen Burnie, MD when a car pulled right into her on Quarterfield Rd near the I-97 overpass. She no longer rides a bicycle in part because of that.

I also understand that the cost of putting in paved shoulders is really high. I also see all sorts of debris on them. I like to see them on busy highways (and maintained properly) and such but really are not needed on most roads.
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Old 11-03-04, 06:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bac
In the constant battle of car vs. bicycle,
More like cars vs everyone else (bikes, pedestrians, trains, buses, etc)
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Old 11-03-04, 06:32 PM   #17
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Just because the road has no shoulder does not mean that the property is privately owned right up to the pavement. However, getting a shoulder added would be a tough task. Adding a shoulder takes a lot more than just throwing some additional asphalt on the ground. The roadbed would need to be graded/filled, stabilized, and otherwise prepared first depending on the road, soil, etc.

There are probably some local/state standards regarding which roads do and do not get shoulders. It's probably primarily a matter of designation (federal/state/local), and traffic density. You might start by calling the local Department of Transportation office nearest the road to see how it works. If traffic counts play a role, you may be able to get them to measure the current traffic load. In any event, they can probably explain the situation for that road.

If the land right up to the road is privately owned, you would have a very difficult time getting a shoulder. Although the state/county could condemn the land and force a sale, it would be very expensive to implement.
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Old 11-03-04, 08:23 PM   #18
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Beware of unintended consequences. Widening the road by adding shoulders will probably encourage motorists to drive even faster. You need some "share the road" and "watch for bicyclsts" warning signs at key places.

If you come around a blind curve and cannot stop in time to avoid an obstruction without swerving into oncoming traffic, you are violating the prima facie fundamental speed law, i.e., "no faster than is prudent, irrespective of the posted limit."
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Old 11-03-04, 10:08 PM   #19
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The type of road described in the initial post is the standard for all smaller roads in Sweden.
You normally get around 10-20 cm (4-8 in) of paved surface outside the lines, and the road is only 7 m (23 ft) wide in total.

Only really major roads have shoulders, and the only roads with proper shoulders are motorways, where bikes aren't allowed, even though they would be the safest of all to ride on!!!

On our normal roads (yes, even on the ridiculously narrow, shoulderless ones), the maximum speed limit is 90 km/h (56 mph), so the difference in traffic speeds compared to the 110 km/h (68 mph) is marginal.
Considering motorways have shoulders around 2 m (6-8 ft) wide, bikes really ought to be allowed, particularly since motorways often lack side roads for slower traffic, effectively cutting off bikers from the shortest possible routes.

In my case, 10-12 km of motorway forces me to ride an extra 15 km if I want to go to a nearby city, increasing the ride distance from 55 km to 70 km.
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Old 11-04-04, 12:25 AM   #20
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Its easy for someone to say use eminent domain, when it's not their property being taking over! Most counties are not going to go after the eminent domain thing anyway because then they have to pay $100,000 per 10 feet of shoulder to be paved, I doubt to many counties are going to want to do that for cyclist! Best your going to hope for is signs warning drivers as they approach blind hills to watch for cyclist. When I lived in California, there were many mountain roads I rode on that did not have shoulders, and I rode these for years and never had an accident on one of those.
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Old 11-04-04, 04:34 AM   #21
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That road sounds just like most of our regular commute: 40-60mph stretches with no shoulder and no good passing places. You need to ride wide and visible: plenty of lights, and 1-2m from the kerb, in their line of sight.
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