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Old 05-14-02, 09:44 PM   #1
LittleBigMan
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Bike lanes

I am not against the concept.

But in reality, bike lanes are constructed for people who will never use them. Anyone who prefers a bike lane is probably afraid of riding that close to motorists anyway.

So I'm wrong?

When I encounter bike lanes with every intention of using them, this is what I discover (every time)--

1) The "lane" is so full of crap that you have to weave constantly to avoid it. According to safe cycling techniques, weaving is dangerous. You should always try to keep a straight course.

2) The "lane" often includes drains, permanent bumps and potholes that scream, "send me to the hospital!"

3) Glass shards have found a new home: the "bike lane."

4) I love playing in the sand. But riding my 28mm tired bike in the sand deposited in "bike lanes" is no fun. Unless you consider testing your new helmet on a crash a joy.

5) Before the "bike lane" was painted (with those cute icons depicting a stick-man riding a bike,) I could actually ride a clear path in that street. Now, since cars stay out of the "bike lane," all of the above crap accumulates and NOBODY ever sweeps any of it away. So, now I have a skinnier "good lane" (the "car lane") to ride in.

5-1/2) Let's make the cars ride in the potholes, drains and crap. Gimme the "car lane" instead of them.
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Old 05-14-02, 10:13 PM   #2
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I've got a bike lane for about a third of my commute. It's not too bad in terms of litter and other debris. The width varies, although it's never too narrow. There are often cars parked in it on the hoeward bound side, but other than that it's ok.

I usually ride within a few inches of the white line though, irrespective of the width - a practice I highly recommend, by the way - which gets me clear of most obstacles in the lane. It also puts me in a more visible position for cars turning from side streets, and should I need to leave the lane to turn right. Basically, I treat them the same as I treat any shoulder.
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Old 05-14-02, 11:23 PM   #3
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I usually ride within a few inches of the white line though, irrespective of the width - a practice I highly recommend, by the way - which gets me clear of most obstacles in the lane. It also puts me in a more visible position for cars turning from side streets, and should I need to leave the lane to turn right. Basically, I treat them the same as I treat any shoulder.
I do exactly the same. On my way to work, the first 5km is downhill in a 60kph zone, so I usually ride on the white line until I hit 60 then merge into the car lane to avoid having someone from a side street hitting me when they pull into the bike lane for looking room.

The bike lanes here are about 2.5/3 feet wide, debris is fairly light, most roads are swept weekly. The main reason for bike lanes is not so much for the cyclist but to help drivers judge the distance from the far side of their cars. The painted line on the far side gives them some sort of guideline to miss cyclists. I do find roads with bike lanes to be quite safe, I have never had any close calls with cars being too close. Adelaide is covered with bike lanes, at the moment there are some being put down right in front of my work.

CHEERS.

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Old 05-15-02, 01:56 AM   #4
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I like using bike lanes (although come across all the problems you have mentioned LBM) but worry that increased use will lead to them being compulsory, which would not be a good thing.

We should maintain our rights to use the road and lobby for stiffer treatment of drivers who can't cope with slower moving traffic.
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Old 05-15-02, 03:16 AM   #5
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yes, compulsory bike lanes is a big problem... as well as the idea that it gives drivers that bike don't belong on the road

i've commented before about the crappy bike lanes here in Munich that are next to the sidewalk... for the most part they are clean of debris and most motorists make a good attempt to watch for cyclists (but not those going 30-35kmh! like me)

yesterday i got out my road bike and road mostly on the street instead of using the bike lanes that just aren't safe going at "fast" 30-40kmh speeds with all the pedestrians, rollerbladers, and then right-turining cars expecting a 10-15kmh cyclist...

anyway, i was "safety instructed" twice by Taxi Drivers on my ride and honked at a bunch of times (both times when i was having to brake b/c the traffic couldn't go faster). The taxi drivers told me there was a bike path. I said "thank you, i'm aware of that but find it safer to ride here". Both times the guys were confused and adamently stated it was in my best interest to ride on the bike path (once time was in a section slightly downhill with TONS of pedestrians and riding 45kmh through there is POSITIVELY not safe). Of course, riding on the road was quite safe and the turning cars could see me much more easily than hidden behind parked cars on the bike path... also, quite a few times drivers honked and then pointed to the bike lane (although i was causing little slow-down riding at or near the speed of the cars (roads 30kmh to 50kmh with evening traffic) and definitely less than cars stopping to parallel park or delivery trucks stopped with flashers)

i'm not sure, but i have heard that you are required to use the bike lane in Germany if there is an official sign which there usually is. i also rode through a police speed trap and as i passed the cop car at 40kmh in the 45kmh zone almost tailgating (no safely) the autos b/c they had slowed for the Police, the cop yelled out "use the bike path" but i just pretended not to hear (i barely understood and had to guess exactly what he had said) and kept riding and the 2nd officer didn't say anything as i cruised by at 40kmh... anyway, until i am officially stopped by an officer and told otherwise, i will continue to use the road when i find the bike lane too dangerous (sometimes the bike lanes are OK and relatively safe in sections with few pedestrians)
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Old 05-15-02, 03:26 AM   #6
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Portland Oregon has a hotline you can call if the road is full of debris and they usually come and sweep the bike lane within a few days if you call - it isn't special for bikes, but also includes bike lanes - and in general the bike lanes in Portland are swept clean with the roads rather than being the depository for all car-debris as in many cities (e.g. Houston in the few bike lanes it does have)

i find bike lanes on roads with speed limits of 35mph and higher quite nice as long as they are clean and properly routed for turning lanes and exit/entrance lanes (i.e. bike lane moves left BEFORE right turn lane so turning cars do not turn in front of bikes) and enforced as a no-parking zone and NOT compulsory (i.e. you can still move to the left lane to turn or out of the bike lane is it's full of bikes). Bike lanes can also be good in heavy traffic so bikes have a clear shot around/through the cars w/o lane-splitting.
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Old 05-15-02, 03:47 AM   #7
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Originally posted by nathank
i find bike lanes on roads with speed limits of 35mph and higher quite nice as long as they are clean and properly routed for turning lanes and exit/entrance lanes (i.e. bike lane moves left BEFORE right turn lane so turning cars do not turn in front of bikes) and enforced as a no-parking zone and NOT compulsory (i.e. you can still move to the left lane to turn or out of the bike lane is it's full of bikes). Bike lanes can also be good in heavy traffic so bikes have a clear shot around/through the cars w/o lane-splitting.
Sounds perfect I agree they have their place, and I'd welcome them on some roads - sadly they frequently seem to be put in places where there is little need and are rarely found where you want them.

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Old 05-15-02, 05:02 AM   #8
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Bike lane in Toronto is quite good although a little cleaning will make it better place to ride your bike however the bike lane here are far or space very far apart like they are in a continuous path, like it will suddenly disappear and then you travel another mile, then you have the bike lane again, I don't know about our City planners, may be they are thinking that we can fly our bike over the next Bike lane, it need a little planing here to make the bike lane really useful to the biking Public
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Old 05-15-02, 07:57 AM   #9
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The German system described by Nathank is probably what every serious lawful vehicular transportation cyclist fears most -- a "bikes don't belong" relegation to a slow sidepath with a "nearside hook" opportunity at every intersection or driveway. Unfortunately, it is also what alot of Americans are hoping for, either because it gets bikes out of the way of their cars, or because it permits these trafficphobes to cycle "safely" [at my jogging speed]. This is probably the biggest single argument against bikelanes.

To me, the best system in our non-ideal world is: 1) traffic calming without bike lanes through residential neighborhoods and central business districts, with 25mph/40kph speed limits strictly enforced and bicyclists encouraged to "take the lane" as necessary; 2) wide curb lanes, shoulders, or demarked bike lanes on the faster streets, but with freedom to move into the travel lane to pass other cyclists, to avoid obstacles, to avoid being nearside hooked at intersections, or to make a farside turn from the proper lane; and 3) a sidepath requirement for pedestrians, to keep them out of the bike lanes if there is a sidewalk available to them. Fortunately, most of the streets I encounter every day in San Diego County conform to this paradigm.
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Old 05-15-02, 08:09 AM   #10
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John E,

exactly! very good description John!

i would also add:
1) better training for cyclists (doesn't have to be formal) to prevent side-walk riding, riding at night without lights and wrong-way cycling
2) motorist awareness, but if there were more cyclists who rode according to vehicular cycling, motorists would learn to adjust
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Old 05-15-02, 08:13 AM   #11
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I agree with the idea that bike lanes' biggest drawback is the impression they leave with drivers that they're the only place bikes are allowed on the road, and that bikes aren't allowed where there's no bike lane. In Philadelphia, I've encountered this attitude on numerous occasions and IMO it's a BIG problem.

Philly's heart was in the right place when it started the bike lane program, but without the necessary accompanying education (that they're one-way, that they're single-file, how drivers should merge with them, that bikes are legal on all streets, not just ones with bike lanes, etc.) they may do more harm than good.

In practical terms, I deal with them as I do with everything else: I do what's safe and expedient. I use them if they're clear, I don't if they're not.

My great good fortune is that for several miles of my commute along a 6-lane urban arterial, the outside lanes are restricted bus/bike lanes. These are great for cyclists. Too bad I'm almost the only cyclist I ever see in them.

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Old 05-15-02, 09:12 AM   #12
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I ride through two counties. In Broward on A1A, going south there are tree roots, sand traps, pot holes. I take the road thank you. Going North, it's the same with the addition of slippery cobblestone driveways jutting from thickly shrubbed mansions. However when entering into Palm Beach County, there is a multi-use path for hoofers and skaters plus brand new well routed bike lanes that are anywhere from 2.5 to 3 feet wide which are immaculately kept with "share the road with cyclists" signs every quarter mile or so. Here I feel very secure using the bike lane and much prefer it over the road. Even driveways aren't a problem. We have a very strong advocacy group down here plus our tourist industry demands attention to every detail in critical areas such as A1A.

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Old 05-16-02, 02:05 PM   #13
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Hm. I’ve raged over this topic before. My conclusion is that bike paths should not be for bikes but for vehicles moving at a certain (low) speed. Why not have a speed limit on bikepaths! Bikes moving faster than 25 km/h should use the road. Because if I hit the bikepath at 40 km/h, that’s a safety risk for all parts. See my photos from Swedish bikepaths/lanes to get my point: http://karlsplanet.com/bike/path.html

By the way, we have the same rules as in Germany: If there’s a bikepath along the road, cyclists are obliged to use it. Hence, compulsory bikepaths.
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Old 05-16-02, 04:13 PM   #14
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Swekarl, You got a point there, but the problem is its not only in Sweden its all over the world, Bike Lane that is seldom used by cyclist. I have visited your website and it pretty cool
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Old 05-17-02, 02:26 AM   #15
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There is a main problem with this though. The existence of bikepaths has made car drivers think the road is for cars alone. If a cyclist shows up in ”their” lane the drivers act hobby-cops and honk. I often want to tell them ”hey, why don’t you borrow my bike for a few hundred meters on this bikepath and then reconsider your opinion?”
Karl's website: http://karlsplanet.com/bike/path.html

i know exactly what you mean... when i first got to Munich 1 year ago, the bike paths were very different to what i was used to in the US where i rode mostly in the street with cars and sometimes on a striped bike lane next to cars but never next to the pedestrains or on the sidewalk. so i decided to give the bike paths a try... after using the bike paths here in Munich almost every day for almost a year and avoiding an average of 3-4 dangerous encounters a day from both pedestrians and turning cars, i am now switching back to using the road much of the time...

but the acceptance from cars and police is really against this. i think it's just a matter of time before the police will tell me i need to be riding in the bike lane for my safety... and for the last few weeks, i have been thinking exactly like you said; if a cop stops me and tells me to ride in the bike lane i'd love to ask him to spend a half-hour and ride with me and see WHY that's so unsafe... not sure if it would work, but WOW the idea sounds great...

for now i just have to deal with all the drivers playing "hobby-cop" as you call it... but it's better than facing the inevitable crash by staying on the bike paths...
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Old 05-17-02, 11:33 AM   #16
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I just treat the bike lane stripe as a fog line and stay within 3 or 4" of either side of it--probably the prime line on most streets is about that far into the traffic lane from the bike lane stripe.
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Old 05-17-02, 11:58 AM   #17
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Feldman, my experience has taught me the same thing. Travelling in a predictable path either means moving out of the bike lane (to avoid weaving) or knowing the bike lane like the back of my hand so that I know where every crack and rut is.

Trouble with the latter is that it doesn't account for tree limbs or broken bottles.
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Old 05-17-02, 01:43 PM   #18
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Originally posted by Feldman
I just treat the bike lane stripe as a fog line and stay within 3 or 4" of either side of it--probably the prime line on most streets is about that far into the traffic lane from the bike lane stripe.
I occasionally encounter a motorist who thinks that the narrow ribbon of broken, littered asphalt to the outside of the fog line is a bike lane, and that I am somehow obliged to ride there. Unless a motorist in endangering you, politely but assertively hold your position.






Clay's tagline seems to fit nicely in a thread about European-style bicycle lanes and restrictions:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" --Benjamin Franklin

essential liberty: to position myself in the traffic lanes, as necessary for effective cycling, to optimize my personal balance of safety and mobility

temporary [illusory] safety: mixed-use, right-hookable bike lanes
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