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  1. #1
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    Stripping bike lanes

    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.
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  2. #2
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    The Association of American State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) publishes their "Green Book" of best practices for bicycle facilities on a regular basis, and there is also the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). These are the best resources to use, since the community officials you're trying to work with are going to have to follow some sort of recognized guidleines, and these are the usual standards.

  3. #3
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy View Post
    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?
    So what I read here is you've already made your decision before you've actually seen any data?
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    So what I read here is you've already made your decision before you've actually seen any data?
    Everyone needs a direction to start with, otherwise what are you doing but wasting peoples' time?

    If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called "research."

    It's notable that I also want the decaying bike paths repaved (they're cracking, growing grass, and being driven upwards by tree roots) even though I haven't seen any data that smooth, well-maintained asphalt is easier to ride on than horribly distorted, cracked, sinkholed pave.
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  5. #5
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    How about starting with the BALTIMORE BIKE MASTER PLAN? you've made some broad generalizations about planning for bike traffic which are way off base. Read up on 'context sensitive solutions' and 'road diets' and 'complete streets' if you want a more comprehensive view of planning for bicycle traffic than a monotheistic VC addled wide outside lane whitewash.

    and how do you feel about using up road real estate simply to leave private property? seems it makes no sense to use up so much real estate along transportation corridors just to support cars that aren't even being driven!

    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy
    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
    how dissapointing to see such closed mindedness while looking to increase bike traffic and safety in Baltimore!

    Traffic patterns are nuanced and require nuanced context sensitive solutions.

    baltimore bike master plan 2006
    Last edited by Bekologist; 08-17-11 at 08:10 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  6. #6
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    Here is some data on a similar proposal:
    http://greenoptionsbuffalo.org/programs.php?recordID=1

  7. #7
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Without looking at the approved bike plan, I think that your opinion of how things should be changed may be irrelevant. If the existing lanes are in accordance with the bike plan, your first step is to reopen the bike plan and have it changed. I suspect the plan was open and reviewed for several months or years before it was approved the first time, though, so it may be an uphill battle change it. Just because one citizen wants something changed doesn't mean it's worth the time of the city council, the department of public works and transportation, etc., to reopen and change the plan.

    Your best bet at justifying a change is to base it on safety, but you haven't down enough research yet to know that the current infrastructure is inherently unsafe.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  8. #8
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Great idea! That way new riders, and people who aren't comfortable in traffic will stay the hell off their Fred bikes. Discouraging people from riding their bikes is what advocacy is all about, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy View Post
    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?
    Who needs data? Just tell them you read it was a good idea on a forum for sanctimonious people.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  9. #9
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Regardless of whether it's a good idea or not, Seattle, bluefoxicy needs to learn more about why the infrastructure is the way it is, then do enough due diligence to determine whether the ideas he has have merit over the current method, then produce enough evidence to present to the city council to demonstrate why his way is better, then convince them to reopen and revise the bike plan, and identify funding sources to implement the changes.

    He may figure out while doing that due diligence, however, that this is not a battle worth spending his resources on. Instead of just writing him off, it would be better to point him toward how learn how the system works, how to change things that should be changed, and how to determine what should even be changed. I don't think it's necessarily beneficial to waste his energy and drive, but he does need to understand more about bicycle infrastructure and how the system works before he can effect positive change.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  10. #10
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy View Post
    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.
    Living and cycling a lot in London (England) a lot of our roads are fairly narrow but still usually wide enough for a car to pass a cyclist, as long as both are sensible. In case you didn't already know we drive on the left in England so flip left/right as appropriate

    Outside the cities we have a few roads that are narrow enough that a car couldn't safely pass a bike without crossing into the other lane (i.e. into the path of oncoming traffic) and enough traffic that a cyclist on such a road would be a nuisance to just about every road user stuck behind them. For good measure some of these roads don't have anywhere suitable for a slower cyclist to pull over and let cars pass every once in a while. On a road like that it's hard to see a bike doing 20mph or less and traffic wanting to (legally) do 50-60mph getting on too well together in the same space.

    What I've seen of American roads is that most of them are hugely wide by UK standards. Admittedly American cars are also typically larger than ours (and you guys do like pickups and 4x4s, which are much larger than most of our cars) but the roads I've seen in the US (which cover about 13 states from CT down to SC) is that there should be more than enough space. The thing that would put me off cycling on a lot of American roads is the same as in the UK - in the more rural areas I'd rather not be sharing a road with a 55mph speed limit with honking great trucks that aren't expecting to see me there. That said in the parts of PA I'm familiar with the logging trucks and Amish buggies manage to share the road, so it's hard to see why they couldn't also share the road with a bike (probably faster than a buggy and definitely narrower).

    I know it's not hard data but hopefully it has some use to you.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I agree completely. But I'd also say that people who call themselves "bike advocates" shouldn't begrudge other people the right to ride in a bike lane that's already been painted, if that makes them feel safer about being out on the road on their bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    Regardless of whether it's a good idea or not, Seattle, bluefoxicy needs to learn more about why the infrastructure is the way it is, then do enough due diligence to determine whether the ideas he has have merit over the current method, then produce enough evidence to present to the city council to demonstrate why his way is better, then convince them to reopen and revise the bike plan, and identify funding sources to implement the changes.

    He may figure out while doing that due diligence, however, that this is not a battle worth spending his resources on. Instead of just writing him off, it would be better to point him toward how learn how the system works, how to change things that should be changed, and how to determine what should even be changed. I don't think it's necessarily beneficial to waste his energy and drive, but he does need to understand more about bicycle infrastructure and how the system works before he can effect positive change.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  12. #12
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    I will say this about bike lanes... they *do* encourage people to ride out on the streets. Certain neighborhoods in my city have seen huge jumps in bicycle volume due to factors: Bike lanes and bike parking. Give someone a place to ride and a place to lock their bike up, and they might be willing to give it a go. Do *I* need a bike lane? Generally, no. But then again, without bike lanes, the Near Southside of Fort Worth would never have gotten as bike friendly and pedestrian friendly as it is.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  13. #13
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    I am of the opinion that bike lanes are the most effective, cost effective and widely understood by all users of the road "infrastructure" (using the word in a broad sense). No one, especially drivers has any idea of what the heck a sharrow is. I don see replacing bikes lanes with sharrows as beneficial.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    how dissapointing to see such closed mindedness while looking to increase bike traffic and safety in Baltimore!
    Selective quoting; your argument is invalid.

    The context of that was in the argument of making the far right lane a large bus-bike lane, which works great where there is active and important bus traffic but not so great when there is typically light congestion and little to no bus traffic. Why devote an entire vehicle lane 100% to bicycles rather than sharing it?
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    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Are you trying to prop up your ego or accomplish something? If the latter, why are you trying the lone harasser approach rather than working with one or more of Baltimore's cycling advocacy groups?
    George
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I agree completely. But I'd also say that people who call themselves "bike advocates" shouldn't begrudge other people the right to ride in a bike lane that's already been painted, if that makes them feel safer about being out on the road on their bike.
    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    I will say this about bike lanes... they *do* encourage people to ride out on the streets.
    Quote Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
    I am of the opinion that bike lanes are the most effective, cost effective and widely understood by all users of the road "infrastructure" (using the word in a broad sense). No one, especially drivers has any idea of what the heck a sharrow is. I don see replacing bikes lanes with sharrows as beneficial.

    All of these are education issues.

    More than half the cyclists here seem to believe that riding against traffic is a good idea, when it's known to cause more accidents than anything else. Accounting for like everyone, rather than just the people I see myself, 8% of cyclists ride the wrong way, yet they account for 25% of collisions--that means 3 times as many total collisions happen to those 8% of cyclists, making you like 37 times more likely to get hit by wrong-way cycling. Source: http://bicyclesafe.com/

    I'm interested in finding out what's actually safer and implementing it. I feel that people wobbling down the 24 inch wide bike lanes here are not safe, as cars gleefully hurl past them at high speeds with little clearance because, hey, they're in the other lane and that's good enough. The statistic I've often seen is that bike lanes actually increase collisions by around 5% more than the increased traffic accounts for.

    So who here wants to die? Who here wants to let 5 in 100 people die because of a feel-good measure? Who here wants to encourage people to take up a dangerous activity because making it less dangerous won't encourage as many?

    Personally, I'd rather have those peoples in cars than dead in the street. But I'd rather make that argument on more than casual statistics taken, usually, from actual studies done by biased vehicular cycling advocates. From what I've read, cycling lanes either make no difference or are slightly more dangerous (from 0.5% up to 5%) than shared lane markers; I feel that shared lanes need proper road design, which means that shared lane should be wider and the entire width must be considered as vehicle throughway (and thus maintained as such).

    I don't like that my arguments are this weak, and I'd rather have more concrete information (even dissenting information) to evaluate instead of the small pool I already have; but I also don't care much for arguments that a false sense of security leads to better usage rates, because I could give ****-all about usage rates when that usage comes at the price of more lives. What works will be adopted, just more slowly, so go choke on it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    Are you trying to prop up your ego or accomplish something? If the latter, why are you trying the lone harasser approach rather than working with one or more of Baltimore's cycling advocacy groups?

    I have no friends and no social life. Baltimore does have a pretty active cycling community though, but it'd be the same pitch. I'd imagine they'd feel even more strongly about infrastructure, and possibly sit on the same "do what attracts more volume, not what's necessarily more safe" mentality that I've seen here.

    I cannot argue that a segregated bike lane isn't more attractive; it is, especially to the foolish and ignorant. I can, however, argue that people would prefer bike lanes even if it were 10 times as fatal to ride in them than on a shared lane IF those people weren't educated about the severe dangers of the shared lane; but if it was THAT much more dangerous, I'm sure people would ... ... ... okay, they'd probably just assume ALL cycling is that dangerous, rather than make the comparisons. I'm sure it's not that much more dangerous; the highest numbers I've heard are 5%, which is still somewhat slight ... significant, but slight.

    I mostly ignore the existence of other people entirely. I work well with others, until we have disagreements ... I've been known to change my opinions (my opinions are highly volatile if I can be given good evidence), but I get frustrated in arguments when people won't listen to any reasoning, give any explanation, and then immediately hurl insults and walk away if I manage to get through to them with something they consciously cannot answer for. So, I don't work well with others; I work well with data, and facts.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy View Post
    ...but I also don't care much for arguments that a false sense of security leads to better usage rates, because I could give ****-all about usage rates when that usage comes at the price of more lives. What works will be adopted, just more slowly, so go choke on it.
    Are you aware of the "Safety In Numbers" affect?

    High Usage rates end up equating to a safer roadway. It's much the same argument in the helmet-no helmet debate. Helmets decrease safety (In a way) because they reduce the numbers of cyclist on the roads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UberGeek View Post
    Are you aware of the "Safety In Numbers" affect?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy View Post
    There's always going to be vehicular deaths. Just like there will always be walking deaths. We just gotta do what we can to reduce them to the point of diminishing returns.

  21. #21
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy View Post
    All of these are education issues.
    Right. But people just won't go for safe cycling classes. And motorists certain won't go for safe driving around cyclist classes.

    I'm interested in finding out what's actually safer and implementing it. I feel that people wobbling down the 24 inch wide bike lanes here are not safe, as cars gleefully hurl past them at high speeds with little clearance because, hey, they're in the other lane and that's good enough. The statistic I've often seen is that bike lanes actually increase collisions by around 5% more than the increased traffic accounts for.

    So who here wants to die? Who here wants to let 5 in 100 people die because of a feel-good measure? Who here wants to encourage people to take up a dangerous activity because making it less dangerous won't encourage as many?

    Personally, I'd rather have those peoples in cars than dead in the street. But I'd rather make that argument on more than casual statistics taken, usually, from actual studies done by biased vehicular cycling advocates. From what I've read, cycling lanes either make no difference or are slightly more dangerous (from 0.5% up to 5%) than shared lane markers; I feel that shared lanes need proper road design, which means that shared lane should be wider and the entire width must be considered as vehicle throughway (and thus maintained as such).

    I don't like that my arguments are this weak, and I'd rather have more concrete information (even dissenting information) to evaluate instead of the small pool I already have; but I also don't care much for arguments that a false sense of security leads to better usage rates, because I could give ****-all about usage rates when that usage comes at the price of more lives. What works will be adopted, just more slowly, so go choke on it.
    Overall, though, your posts come across as more opinion than fact. Well, *my* opinion might be that *I feel* (to use your phrase) bike lanes are better. Either way, though, they are just opinions.

    Part of the problem though is that writings on the subject are very rarely neutral. Everyone who writes about cycling safety and infrastructure does so with an agenda in mind and I don't know how to cleave the fact from the spin. I'm actually pretty neutral on bike infrastructure. I think it does encourage some people to get out and ride, but I personally don't have much use for it, since I will ride in the lane. What I *am* against, though, are crusading people with strong agendas who think their way is the only right way. Also, people who want to tell me what's best for me, when I'm capable of figuring that out for myself, kind of irk me.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  22. #22
    Senior Member Stubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
    I am of the opinion that bike lanes are the most effective, cost effective and widely understood by all users of the road "infrastructure" (using the word in a broad sense). No one, especially drivers has any idea of what the heck a sharrow is. I don see replacing bikes lanes with sharrows as beneficial.
    That's just an education issue. Where I live there are a growing number of sharrows, along with bicycle boulevards. Drivers learn pretty quickly what's going on. I would add though that none of them are on high volume or high speed streets. That's the place for bike lanes or better yet cycle tracks.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    I will say this about bike lanes... they *do* encourage people to ride out on the streets. Certain neighborhoods in my city have seen huge jumps in bicycle volume due to factors: Bike lanes and bike parking. Give someone a place to ride and a place to lock their bike up, and they might be willing to give it a go. Do *I* need a bike lane? Generally, no. But then again, without bike lanes, the Near Southside of Fort Worth would never have gotten as bike friendly and pedestrian friendly as it is.
    They've been painting bike lanes in Seattle like there's no tomorrow. Apparently this is what happens when you elect a cyclist mayor who wants to reduce carbon emissions. By coincidence, the number and variety of riders is going up. There's a guy I work with who started biking to work two or three times a week. Before there was a route between his house and the office that was mostly covered in bike lanes, his cycling was limited to parking lots with his kid.

    I generally use quiet, residential streets. They don't have bike lanes, and they don't have much traffic, either. I avoid bike lanes that put me in the door zone. And yet, I benefit from there being other cyclists on the road. If bike lanes make them comfortable riding, then I'm all for some white paint on the road. I'm also very skeptical about "advocates" who want to take bike lanes away from cyclists who feel they need them.

    Training wheels and scaffolding have their purpose, too.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  24. #24
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    We just elected a cyclist mayor too. 20+ years commuting, to boot!
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stubby View Post
    That's just an education issue. Where I live there are a growing number of sharrows, along with bicycle boulevards. Drivers learn pretty quickly what's going on. I would add though that none of them are on high volume or high speed streets. That's the place for bike lanes or better yet cycle tracks.
    +1 here...

    The principal of speed differential dictating the degree of separation.

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