I'm trying to work out a proposal to strip bike lanes in favor of shared lane arrows painted in the streets (hey I can't run in this year's election, but I can harass my councilman).
Does anyone have any data I can use in reference to the bill, as well as common specifications for bike lanes (and data on safety versus lane width), specifications on the width of shared lanes (normal, extra wide, and with kerb-side parking), and safety comparisons between the two?
Data on how a shared lane affects traffic flow versus a bike lane helps too. Not just passing clearance (he's in the bike lane, no need to go around--just zip by, who needs clearance?), but flow efficiency. How much does traffic slow down--and is this desirable traffic calming or mild congestion? (a bicycle severely impeding traffic is congestion; the difference between this and desirable calming is subtle and abstract at the cross-over point, but more clear further out).
In my ideal situation, the roads should support enough flow that bicycles and cars can, at the worst, both move out of each others' way: the cyclist has an extra wide right lane and should go to the right to allow cars to pass when necessary, but the motorist should pass in the left edge of the lane or partially change lanes (with signal) when clear. In a multi-lane road with appropriately (Americanly) wide lanes, this should always be feasible even in heavy traffic if both the motorists and the cyclists cooperate. In European style narrow roads ... European roads are designed better, with visibility and such in mind to make it easier to safely pass, and accommodate bicycles and pedestrians. Wide American lanes work to our advantage here.
I realize that, in order to safely move far enough right in some situations, the cyclist may have to reduce speed due to instability and hazards. Maintenance and cleanliness of the edge of the road is thus important to maximize the bicyclist's speed of travel. Still, in heavy congestion, cyclists will likely have to travel more slowly to share the road with motorists safely. I see no need to iron-clad immunize cyclists from congestion; it should be safe and feasible to reasonably proceed in congested traffic, but the situation may require a reduced speed for all road users.
Obviously, Baltimore's bike-bus lanes are excellent for relieving this stress, and cyclists can travel at the maximum speed even in heavy congestion due to the minimal use of those lanes by buses. For converted one-lane and two-lane roads with a narrow bike lane or smooth shoulder, such congestion problems can't be helped. For areas where bus service isn't as fantastic as downtown Baltimore, it makes no sense to use up so much road real-estate just to support bicycles; we're better off with a wider shared right lane to increase traffic capacity and reduce congestion altogether.
Still, I want to make this universal: The right lane should be wide (some roads here the lanes are ALL wide, so a normal width lane is satisfactory... the normal width is too god damn wide as it is), and shall be marked as a shared bike-car lane. Particularly narrow lanes ... maybe can go without marking, but that doesn't mean bikes can't use them. The road I take to work (has a bike path next to it!) comes to mind, since it's actually dangerous to drive a car on--much less ride a bike. In fact, coming home on that road, I narrowly avoided death on my bike because the guy coming from the opposite direction came halfway into my lane... lucky my bike is narrower than my car, and i almost went off the road avoiding him; if that was my car, it would've been a 60mph collision (35+25 ... I'm the only person that stays under 30 on that road). People are crazy. It's legal to ride there, and should be, even though it's completely unsafe.