If you're puzzled by Delaware, good luck understanding the bike lanes and entrances to I-76 in Philadelphia.
After years of lobbying and planning for a new bridge over the Schuylkill at South Street, the final design has bike lanes to the right of RTOL lanes onto I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway). All of the motorists in the right lane are turning right. None of the bicyclists to their right are turning right.
I asked another bicyclist who had the right of way. She said it was confusing and you had to be really careful. Everyone gets a green light at the same time. Fortunately, motorists seemed to understand when I just used the straight travel lane and did not use the bike lane. (Too many cars lined up to turn right on to I-76 for my taste.)
The South St. bridge reopened in Dec. 2010, after years of planning and decades of complaints about the Spring Garden bike lanes being to the right of another entrance to I-76.
And a street view link for the above poster (his link is aerial down view):
If a curb is necessary, you can also narrow the bike lane to 19" (I measured it)
The problem I have with the bike lanes to right of combination lane is that DelDOT keeps talking about using dotted lines to "allow" bicyclists to leave the bike lane, but amost never follows even AASHTO recommendations of dotting it for 50'-200' (in my opinion still too short when the RTOL lane is 600'+, Faulkland Road).
Many of these intersections used to have RTOL lanes and there are still lots of motorists turning right. The solid linese imply DelDOT thinks all motorists should stay to the left and all bicyclists should stay to the right regardless of destination, and planners have also told me this at public meetings.
These planners also told me motorists always have the right of way (i.e. bicyclist is always at fault in any collision), but to be polite turning motorists will often let bicyclist go straight. Showing major confusion, they admitted that without bike lanes, bicyclists had to operate as any other vehicle, and that oncoming motorists turning left would have to yield the right of way in the absence of a bike lane. (But not if a bike lane is present).
Are you starting to understand why I'd rather have a normal right of way, rather than being painted to the right of even combined straight/right turn arrows at intersection with heavy traffic turning right? Fortunately, drivers here seem to be smarter than the engineers.
Yes, I do understand, its just that cycle lane to the right of a RTOL is a deliberate and malicious sidelining of cyclists where as cycle lane to the right of a combination lane may not be (although sounds like it is in your area).
I went into MSpaint and retouched one of your two earlier photos to show how I would fix one of those combination lanes to be both cyclist friendly and still allow cars to use the space as well:
You can tell I moded the photo not only because of the smear and chop lines and the clear flatness of the sign I put up replacing the right turning motorist yield sign but also because I doubt you will see a combined use set-up like that anywhere even though it clearly gives cyclists road options while still allowing the same space to be used by motorists as well.
And then forward of that intersection where the bike lane is door zone lane I would just split the right main traffic lane in the same way and where the bike lane is now tucked in tight to the parked cars I would make that a pedestrian walk zone so people can get in and out of their cars without fearing getting hit and use this intersection as the point to narrow down from three half lanes to just two when the right turn only half lane turns off. Even bull-nose the opposite corner to block a third lane riding option to ensure a cyclist doesn't continue to hug the curb until that turns into the ped. walk zone along side the parked cars.
Also, didn't have the time to mod the picture this much but if your going to do a half-lane split situation like that, especially with an odd number of half lanes to both give maximum passing clearance and also to prevent improper passing you have to tighten up the width of the left most half-lanes and widen the right most ones and also don't make any of them too wide. Anything narrower then 4' gets a little tight and anything 6' or wider would be enough to tempt a car to try to use it as a single lane. 4' far left half-lane, and then 5' middle and right half-lanes not including the width of the lines which you make fairly wide and put the cushion in the width of the lines because people look at the space between them not the width of the lines.
And lets not forget the psychological impact of lanes too narrow for a car to fit in where they have to straddle two of them (as in they are in cyclist territory not their own).
Leaving them off won't change the minds of those that hate cyclists. However, by adding the STR signs to general bicycle signs, it looks like the STR message is addressed to the bicyclists telling them they need to share with motorists instead of controlling 10-12' lanes with bike lane/shoulder removed. Think of signs with messages specific to trucks about steep grades or restrictions on lane use by trucks.
I have had a few motorists (on virtually empty roads) tell me STR the road meant I had to get out of the road when the bike lane was painted to the gutter pan (decrease from 4' to 0' to make space for left turn lane). I think other drivers understand that running over cyclists is a bad idea even without these signs.
The law hasn't changed, but citations depend as much on individual officers' or JP courts' (mis)understanding of the law as much as bicyclist behavior. If officers or judges don't understand or believe the exceptions to the far right requirement (prevailing speed, left turns, narrow lanes, ...), they may still cite bicyclists, even if the citations are overturned on appeal. Again, spending money on STR signs does not help cyclists here either.
Most of teh planners I've spoken to don't realize that bicycles can follow normal traffic laws and that a bicycle blocking a lane to make a left turn is not impeding traffic any more than a car or truck. They don't see problems with bike lanes to the right of RTOL (even when it's pointed out) because they think of bicyclists as children or pedestrians with objects.
I find these lanes cause the same problems whether they are due to deliberate ignorance or aggressive indifference. When the planners discount experienced bicyclists because the lanes are meant to encourage new bicyclists, I'm not sure ignorance can be completely innocent, even if it is well intended.
Your revised photo is interesting, but is so far from approved or standard designs that I can't imagine any state Dept of Transportation installing it. I think a new & unique design would confuse any motorist that tried to think about it instead of just looking at the pavement and other traffic.
I would prefer a sign that's already in the manuals, "Bicycles May Use Full Lane", but I haven't seen any in DE or PA. The DE MUTCD restricts BMUFL to designated bicycle routes without shoulders or bicycle facilities, but even in these locations I haven't seen any signs yet.
I absolutely agree that on low speed especially in-town business district and residential areas having cyclists "use full lane" and ride just like they were motorcycles only with a human motor is usually the best and safest option and that is how I myself ride in such areas almost exclusively including areas with dedicated cycle lanes and side-paths which are unacceptably dangerous for me to use and I have gone to court to fight local city ordinances which require their use under the state law supremacy clause of my state that clearly mandates uniformity of traffic laws across the state and forbids local governments from making local ordinances that contradict except for where state law specifically allows them to do so and the only bicycle specific exception in state law is whether bicycles may or may not ride on sidewalks with a default that bicycles are always road legal vehicles in my state.
However, there is a trend at foot where people both motorists and misguided cyclists are demanding bicycle lanes or side-paths in areas where they often do more harm then good. What I was trying to say is that when this happens and they are going to be put in regardless of whether we want them to go in or not because of other more powerful pressure groups we should do "damage control" to try to make them better then they would be without our input. I personally was part of a successful move to have a dangerous side-path in a specific small town which will remain un-named in my state re-designated as a pedestrian path with official crosswalks painted and then a half way decent bicycle lane put in on the street instead. Its not perfect but a far better then the old side-path was and is one of the victories in this area that I can put my name too (along with others of course). Of course many other battles have been lost specifically in the town of Kalispell, MT where multiple dangerous and anti-cyclists bigoted automobile dominant infrastructures have been compounded over the years although there have been exceptions where they have gotten it half way right but in those cases it has been the same as a broken clock that is right twice a day.
And then situations where cycle friendly infrastructure is actually highly desirable even dare I say it actually a need not a want is where they never put any in. We are talking high speed 60+mph highways that cyclists routinely use that are narrow two lane with bare minimum width lanes and no shoulder edges paved or otherwise with multiple hill crests and corners that obscure motorists sight lines where all that is need to make things safer for everyone would to simply have consistently 3-4 foot wide paved shoulder edges in decent condition and the vast majority of cyclists would use them and would be very thankful for them because the exit/entrance traffic dangerous (right hooks, left-T-cross, right entry nose out, right entry mow down, etc . . . ) from shoulder edge riding would be far less then the danger of getting run down from behind or "getting sliced" on a too close pass with physical contact (usually getting clobbered with an automobiles right side mirror) which is the primary and very serious danger to cyclist on those roads right now. On many of them even a side-path would be an excellent solution as well on one of them namely MT-83 it would be THE best solution in my opinion even as a cyclist who normally despises side-paths because that road is one of the most scenic of all the roads in Montana with the exception of the "Going to the Sun" road which is within Glacier National Park and there are a whole lot of tourists on that road every summer rubber necking at all the mountains and wildlife and wandering all over the road along with a number of touring cyclists as well and there have been several such cyclists killed on that road even riding on the shoulder edges (where there is one) because the motorists wander all over and even off that road. So on that road even I think a separate side-path set well off to the side would be highly preferred especially since side-road crossing conflicts would be very minimal along it entire length.
Other examples of where cyclists infrastructure would be highly desired and highly beneficial is literally a hundred or more bridges I could point out that are narrow two lane high speed (60+mph) with no consideration made for either cyclists or pedestrians except for that cyclists can "take the lane" across such bridges but when doing so they have no escape path and are completely at motorists mercy. All of those bridges are fully structurally capable of supporting 3-4' wide light weight steel tubing catwalk like structure bicycle and pedestrian only side extensions anchored to their outer edges.
Then of course there are the high speed roads where they have widened the width of the paved surface but instead of keeping the same width main travel lanes or only slightly widening them and having good shoulder edge width they have instead used the additional surface width to substantial widen the main travel lanes instead and keep tiny little foot to foot and a half wide shoulder edges with 13-foot wide or so main traffic lanes which only encourage drivers to drive those winding mountain roads even faster and more recklessly when all they had to do was correctly place the wide line on those roads to keep the traffic lanes still wide enough but tightened up to only about 10-11 foot wide, slightly wider then before but with wider shoulder edges which has the opposite psychological effect on drivers to keep them driving slower and more carefully due to the narrow lane width and opens up the shoulder edges for cyclists to use with sufficient width and also allows motorists more "Oops" room. It has been a well established fact for quite a while now that a road with fairly narrow but still sufficient width main travel lanes and wide shoulder edges has far less motorists deaths and injuries compared to a road with the exact same pavement width but with wider lanes and almost no shoulder edges. So even without considering the option for cyclists to be able to safely and effectively travel by riding a decent width and surface condition paved shoulder edge out of the main high speed traffic lanes its still the better option for safety of motorists as well. But more and more they keep putting the white line out as far as possible making the main lanes as wide as possible with hardly and shoulder edge which is a dangerous move for all road users.
Yet all these highly beneficial and worthwhile cycle friendly infrastructure improvements that sometimes cost $0 dollars and are accomplished just by painting the white line in the right spot in the first place or moving its location on a re-paint job that has to be done anyway are what goes on completely ignored by advocates of cycle specific infrastructure and they instead focus on trying to force unnecessary, dangerous, and bigoted cycle specific infrastructure into low speed urban roads and then when they discover that cyclists refuse to use it because it is so badly done then they try to pass mandatory use laws either as local ordinances or even at the state level.
Therefor my focus when it comes to cycle infrastructure has not been to stop or prevent the efforts which I do not believe there is sufficient power on our side to do but rather to re-direct it as much as possible to where such infrastructure is actually needed and ultimately where-ever it is put in try to get it done in at least a half way logical and equitable manner.
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