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Old 05-21-02, 09:21 AM   #1
swekarl
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New study - bikelanes are safer

I’ve just discovered all the public documents on cyclists and traffic on the Stockholm city site. There’s a lot to read! (In Swedish.) I read a very extensive report about the safety for cyclists before and after bikelanes were painted on a street.

The main results were that
[list=1][*]Cyclists feel safer with bikelanes[*]Cyclists are much more sure of where to bike with bikelanes[*]6 out of 10 right-turning cars gave way to cyclists with the bikelanes (4 of 10 without)[*]The distance between the cyclists and the parked cars increased significantly with bikelanes[*]So did the distance between the cyclists and the passing cars[*]Cars moved slower with bikelanes (probably because they lost a lane every here and there)[/list=1]

In addition to the bikelanes, so called bikepockets were painted at every intersection. That means the cars' stopline is moved a few meters back, so the cyclists can bike up to the front just by the traffic ligths, infront of the cars. This measure got positive feedback from all parts.

And now the bad news: So called double-parking, when a car stops outside the already parked cars, increased with 78 percent! Probably because car drivers wouldn't double-park when they knew they would hinder other cars, but thought it was ok to do so in a bikelane (which is very much against the law).

The report's conclusion was that bikelanes are safer, BUT ONLY if the double-parking is put to an end. The double-parking sort of destroys all the benefits of bikelanes.

Well, this was interesting reading for me, since I used to despise bikelanes. But alright then, I should be less selfish and think about the general cyclist. Also, bikelanes is what I hate the least - the bikepaths that go between the parked cars and the pavement are the worst, I would like to read a study about them.
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Old 05-21-02, 01:29 PM   #2
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Thank you for the translation, Swekarl! I do not object to well-engineered bike lanes and concur that parking bans must be strictly enforced for our safety. The biggest problem I see is educating motorists that they should enter the bike lane 30 meters before making a near-side turn (but not earlier!), and convincing bicyclists that they should leave the bike lane to avoid getting hooked by near side turning motorists. Fortunately, in the San Diego area, most bike lane demarcations become dotted lines as they approach intersections, and the Drivers' Handbook gives sound advice regarding how motorists and cyclists should coexist.
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Old 05-21-02, 01:51 PM   #3
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Originally posted by swekarl
I read a very extensive report about the safety for cyclists before and after bikelanes were painted on a street.

The main results were that
[list=1][*]Cyclists feel safer with bikelanes[*]Cyclists are much more sure of where to bike with bikelanes[*]6 out of 10 right-turning cars gave way to cyclists with the bikelanes (4 of 10 without)[*]The distance between the cyclists and the parked cars increased significantly with bikelanes[*]So did the distance between the cyclists and the passing cars[*]Cars moved slower with bikelanes (probably because they lost a lane every here and there)[/list=1]

Swekarl, I would argue with those results, as follows:
1) A bike lane is not safer just because they "feel safer."
2) A cyclist that needs a bike lane to show them where to ride is not properly trained and therefore less safe overall. A bike lane is a poor substitute for proper cyclist training.
3) 6 out of 10 right-turning cars yielding to cyclists in a bike lane is a poor percentage, not significantly better than 4 out of 10. Also, a properly trained cyclist who takes the traffic lane is less likely to be passed in an intersection, therefore less likely to be cut off by a right-turning vehicle. A bike lane allows motorists to pass in an intersection more easily, which puts the cyclist at a greater risk of the "right hook."
4) A bike lane cannot protect a cyclist from parked cars more effectively than proper training.
5 and 6) Passing vehicles tend to give me less passing space and drive faster when they are separated from me by a white line.

I am not arguing with you, Swekarl, just the study results.

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Old 05-21-02, 03:45 PM   #4
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Originally posted by LittleBigMan
Swekarl, I would argue with those results, as follows:
1) A bike lane is not safer just because they "feel safer."
Actually, that was my argument too at first. But the author had an ace in his sleeve! Cyclists bike more where they feel safer. More cyclists on a road make the road safer – that’s a fact. So, when the cyclists feel safer, there will be more of them, which vouches for a safer road!

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2) A cyclist that needs a bike lane to show them where to ride is not properly trained and therefore less safe overall. A bike lane is a poor substitute for proper cyclist training.

Of course, but training cyclists is not an option, would be only in utopia. Choosing between bikelanes and no bikelanes might be like choosing between two evils, but one of them is surely somewhat better, and that was the point of the study.

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3) 6 out of 10 right-turning cars yielding to cyclists in a bike lane is a poor percentage, not significantly better than 4 out of 10. Also, a properly trained cyclist who takes the traffic lane is less likely to be passed in an intersection, therefore less likely to be cut off by a right-turning vehicle. A bike lane allows motorists to pass in an intersection more easily, which puts the cyclist at a greater risk of the "right hook."

Well, apparently not, according to the study. The reason I retell it is because I thought the opposite myself. 6 out of 10 might not be good, but I definitely consider it significantly better than 4 out of 10.

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4) A bike lane cannot protect a cyclist from parked cars more effectively than proper training.

True, but then again, that was not what the study was about.

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5 and 6) Passing vehicles tend to give me less passing space and drive faster when they are separated from me by a white line.

It might be different in the states, but I wouldn’t be too sure about the situation just judging from my own experiences. I was, and that’s why I was so surprised by this study, in which they had actually videotaped about 300 cyclists and measured the distance to the cars.

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I am not arguing with you, Swekarl, just the study results.
Yeah, and I agree with everything you write about training etc, I just don’t think it disqualifies the study.
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Old 05-21-02, 04:52 PM   #5
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Originally posted by swekarl
...training cyclists is not an option, would be only in utopia.
Again, I have to respectfully disagree.

Training is the only option. Even with bike lanes, an untrained cyclist is a danger to himself and others. We are in traffic, after all.

Yet, the willingness of officials to even consider yielding a portion of the road to cyclists is a victory.

But what if you can't paint bike lanes? Do cyclists have to stay off? What will motorists think? Will they think we are not going to be where there is no bike lane? That's dangerous.

The danger is having too many confusing rules: bike lanes, no bike lanes, bike paths, no bike paths, wrong-way cyclists, etc.
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Old 05-21-02, 05:04 PM   #6
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I think I get your point better now. Like I propose in my little photo essay, if there were no bikelanes or bikepaths at all, cyclists would be forced to be part of the traffic and there would be more reciprocal respect between all parts in traffic. Cyclists wouldn’t be second class road-users.

And such a change of over-all attitude is of course the alternative to the two evils in the study.

Edit: Oops, I got so excited that I didn’t even finish reading your post:

Quote:
But what if you can't paint bike lanes? Do cyclists have to stay off? What will motorists think? Will they think we are not going to be where there is no bike lane? That's dangerous.
This is exactly my point in my essay!
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Old 05-21-02, 05:25 PM   #7
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Old 05-22-02, 08:08 AM   #8
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Originally posted by swekarl
... if there were no bikelanes or bikepaths at all, cyclists would be forced to be part of the traffic and there would be more reciprocal respect between all parts in traffic. Cyclists wouldn’t be second class road-users.
Again, I think it depends on the speed of the traffic. On a street with a posted 25mph/40kph limit, I happily take the lane, mingle with traffic, and strongly prefer NOT to have a bike lane. However, on a 45mph/70kph street or faster street, I definitely want a clean shoulder or a wide curb lane, with or without official bike lane demarcation. If the bike lane stripe discourages motorists from drifting toward the outside or from parking there, so much the better.
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Old 05-22-02, 09:08 AM   #9
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Two points I note from previous posts and a few personal comments.

1. Training and bike lanes are not mutually exclusive. In Montréal, we don't have many official bike lanes (just a few good and many really bad bike paths), but there are many places where a demarcation in the asphalt or a side line delimits a narrow unofficial bike lane.

I find such situations very good, especially when I cycle with my 6-year-old daughter. It's a bit hard to teach proper riding distance without guidelines -- how far away from parked cars, how to behave in a narrow or wide street, etc. -- , and a paved line or even a slight change of colour between two bands of asphalt really helps to teach her proper riding behaviour.

Personally, I would like bike lanes in places where intersections are really far apart and where traffic is stalled most of the time. It makes it easier to pass stopped cars. I prefer a plain road when intersections are close together and generally when traffic flows freely.

Regarding car speed vs bike speed. I don't think I like to live dangerously, yet I prefer faster traffic if there is ample room to move around. A maximum speed of 40 km/h (25 mi/h) is fine for narrow streets, but I have no problem with a maximum speed of 50 or 60 km/h. However, I really don't feel comfortable in places where the maximum speed is 30 km/h (approx. 18 mi/h), because law-abiding car drivers (they exist) follow me for a long time and/or slowly pass me. I don't like cars staying for too long on my left or just behind me. BTW, I have the same feeling when I drive. If I drive at 100 km/h, I have no problem with those who drive safely at 120 or 130 km/h, but don't like those who drive at 101 km/h.

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Old 05-22-02, 11:13 AM   #10
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From swekarl's web page.
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.
A very good point.

It's interesting to compare bike lanes with "HOV" (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes, also known as carpool or bus lanes here in California.

1. HOV lanes are typically on the left edge of our freeways. Current design standards require at least a 4 foot (1.2 m) buffer between the "mixed flow" lanes and the HOV lane. The buffer is required due to the serious collision danger of vehicles traveling at significantly different speeds.

2. Although the HOV lanes are restricted to use by vehicles with at least two or three passengers, nobody honks at a car with two or more people in the mixed flow lanes.

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Old 05-22-02, 01:32 PM   #11
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IN ym experience, riding safely wit traffic has less to do with the existence of a bike lane than it does with road width. Wider lanes are safer as motorists can maintain thier position in the lane whilst passing cyclists, and cyclists have more room to move. As the lane narrows, lane sharing becomes more difficult, motorists take more risks with cyclists in trying to get past them, safety is reduced.

Bikelanes tend to only be placed where there is already room for them on the road ie. wide ones. At least, that's the case here in Brisbane (and the rest of Aus. from what I hear). The fact is, these roads are already safe for cycling, the addition of a bikelane provides marginal additional safety at best.

There is a bike lane on a lage portion of my route to work. Yes, I feel safe riding in it, but if it wasn't there, the road is wide enough that I wouldn't feel less safe. I also ride an 80km/h section that has no bikelane, but very wide lanes. I feel just as safe riding on this road as on the bike lane.

I see bikelanes as more of a placebo than anything. OK, they may encourage more people to cycle, but not because they provide any actual additional safety, only the appearance of it. Unfortunately, these days appearances often take precedence over substance (why else would we be more interested in what actors have to say than writers?)
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Old 05-23-02, 06:16 AM   #12
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I see bikelanes as more of a placebo than anything. OK, they may encourage more people to cycle, but not because they provide any actual additional safety, only the appearance of it.
Allister

i agreee totally, but the reality is that bike lanes get more people out on bikes... which is good...

but as you said, the proper deisgn of roads with wide lanes or shoulders in the most important thing... as well as addressing intersections and not building things like expressway-style entrance and exit lanes or elevated clover-leaf intersections or funky merges where cyclists must cross 3-6 lanes of high-speed traffic, etc

i'm not sure on the exact law, but i believe Oregon has a law that any new road must have either a shoulder or wide lane for cyclists... there may be some restrictions here, but i think it is primarily intended to make sure that on high-speed country roads (mostly 55mph) cyclists have a proper riding space
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