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    The Rise of Protected Bike Lanes?



    So what do you think about this? As a male between the ages of 25-45 I've heard I'm more likely to fit in the VC crowd, and I think it makes the most sense. There are some roads that I'm just not going to ride on, no shoulder, high-speeds, etc, but otherwise, roads are faster and typically less annoying to use than trails. I take the trails because it gives me a little extra mileage on my way to work, but if I'm cut for time or want to ride faster, I take the road.

    I like the way these look, but it just seems to be begging for right-hooks and how-in-the-heck do I turn left from one of these things?

    Does anyone here have any experience with them? Do they allow you to move with traffic, or do you essentially become a pedestrian at intersections?

    I'm generally not concerned if people feel safer, rather are they safer. I've had more close calls on the trail than I have on the road, but I've had them in both places.

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    i think it's a great idea. what's not to like?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    I didn't see the video, because, like almost ALL videos on this forum, it is completely blocked by an advertisement that I cannot move. However, as far as I'm concerned, keep the bike lanes-a-comin'. Many are not designed very well and are not very practical, but as an experienced cyclist, I can work my way around anything. I don't think a lot of on-road bike lanes are very attractive to newbie cyclists or those who are used to bike paths and neighborhood streets, though.
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    I have nothing useful to contribute other than that I go to the coffee shop at 0:20 probably 3 times a week.

    As far as turning left... The only protected cycle tracks in downtown Austin (I know of only two, one of which is very, very short) are on stretches of road where you're overwhelmingly not going to turn left. So I haven't run into that problem really.

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    Senior Member seafood's Avatar
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    This is a promo video, of course, but it's a shame that they lump all the different kinds of protected bike lanes into one category. I think there's a big difference in safety and viability trade-offs between bike lanes segmented from traffic by parked cars as opposed to some other means that's less inviting to interference by pedestrians. I have mixed experience with these bike lanes in NYC, but the ones with parked cars between the bike lane and traffic can be absolutely nightmarish to negotiate at any speed when there is a lot of activity, leading to unpredictable behavior by people crossing the bike lane: getting in and out of cabs, unloading delivery trucks, and of course getting into their own cars. Those areas and lanes aren't inviting to any seasoned rider, let alone a novice or a family with kids out for a leisurely time. I'm not even convinced that it's statistically safer than mixing it up with regular Manhattan traffic.

    In less hectic areas, they may just work, but I haven't seen very many in Brooklyn, where I do most of my riding. But is one area that has a stretch of protected bike lane with a concrete barrier and no parked cars at all. It's is as good as having your own road -- probably the best you can get in a city environment -- but of course not a feasible setup for too many streets.

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    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    I didn't see the video, because, like almost ALL videos on this forum, it is completely blocked by an advertisement that I cannot move. However, as far as I'm concerned, keep the bike lanes-a-comin'. Many are not designed very well and are not very practical, but as an experienced cyclist, I can work my way around anything. I don't think a lot of on-road bike lanes are very attractive to newbie cyclists or those who are used to bike paths and neighborhood streets, though.
    I agree, on both points.

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    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    That's nice for urban areas, but what about a town like mine & 80% of the rest of the country?

    I have a people for bikes pin by the way...

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TransitBiker View Post
    That's nice for urban areas, but what about a town like mine & 80% of the rest of the country?

    I have a people for bikes pin by the way...

    - Andy
    I can appreciate the sentiment. But, I think the 80% figure is misleading. Do you mean 80% of the population, or 80% of the communities? They are two very different things. For example the population of Philadelphia is larger than the population of the following states: Montana, Vermont, North Dakota, Maine, New Hampshire, and Hawaii. I bring this up, knowing that this is all conjecture on my part, but if the major metropolitan areas aren’t moving in more bike friendly directions, it’s not likely there will be support for it to happen in other areas. Even where you live in Newtown, there is the potential for more bike friendly passage.
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    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    I like the comment made at 3:46 when people started talking about how protected bike lanes made them more likely to ride bikes. I notice all sorts of people on the local MUPs for example who would never ever ride a bike on the street. Expanding the number of people willing to ride and to support bicycle infrastructure is important. Protected bike lanes are not just about building the physical infrastructure for bicycles; they also help build a constituency for bicycles.

  10. #10
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    I can appreciate the sentiment. But, I think the 80% figure is misleading. Do you mean 80% of the population, or 80% of the communities? They are two very different things. For example the population of Philadelphia is larger than the population of the following states: Montana, Vermont, North Dakota, Maine, New Hampshire, and Hawaii. I bring this up, knowing that this is all conjecture on my part, but if the major metropolitan areas aren’t moving in more bike friendly directions, it’s not likely there will be support for it to happen in other areas. Even where you live in Newtown, there is the potential for more bike friendly passage.
    Percent of the communities. In formerly very industrial states such as PA, OH, NJ & MI, you'll notice a trend from say just after ww2 till about maybe 10-15-20 years ago where automobile centric planning was not to spite cyclists, but because the culture in that time was that cars are for transport & bicycles are for competition in a regulated setting and rarely fitness. Now we have all of these roads, some of which have no shoulders & are in very poor shape that are OK for trucks & automobiles, but edging on dangerous for cyclists of any kind. Now you take the roads and combine with uptick in the "green" movement and fitness trends & you have a problem, because you now need to consider the cyclist. We have laws to protect us, but we are still stuck with a population that needs their eyes opened to responsible driving not being "trampling on freedom" but part of life and part of the privilege of driving. So now we have legal fronts to further protect cyclists, update laws and driver ed teaching and road design, but we are not quite there yet. Philadelphia has some bike lanes, but i'll never ride in them because i can't get there from here safely. All the money goes into the big, wide, fast roads & everything else is left to become a minefield of potential trip ending crashes. It's a real problem, and one that needs a multifaceted solution.

    So, you can all please enjoy your bike lanes in urban areas & recreational trails, but wake me up when it makes my trip safer here were i live & ride (i speak for many others), not urban & not on a trail....

    One last item here is that bike lanes next to parked cars is not "protected". That is also known as the door zone & i wish the people who thought it up could get "doored" once to drive the point home. Lane dividers & reflect-y sticks, medians, and stuff that keep the autos out is protected!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    I like the comment made at 3:46 when people started talking about how protected bike lanes made them more likely to ride bikes. I notice all sorts of people on the local MUPs for example who would never ever ride a bike on the street. Expanding the number of people willing to ride and to support bicycle infrastructure is important. Protected bike lanes are not just about building the physical infrastructure for bicycles; they also help build a constituency for bicycles.
    Agreed. And this was the biggest take-away I could find too. Over and over we read that more bikers = Safer bikers. This is the same argument against mandatory helmet laws (not that I want to bring the A&S party over here) and I see it playing right into this too. The more bikes people see, the more they are going to have to learn how to negotiate with them and the more they will pay attention to them.... at least that's what the statistics seem to be pointing out.

    I want to thank Seafood for his input. I can see that the parked car-protected-lanes would be crazy in a busy environment. Seems like Casey Neistat's bike lane video would attest to that. I guess I'm interested in how the "grove" protected lane would negotiate traffic. Seems like it would make things pretty complicated. But it's probably a small price to pay if you are getting more people out there. I would just want to protect our ability to still ride on the road if that was the safest/most convenient.

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    I get that the concept of protected bike-ways is an appealing one, but, have any of you advocates considered the cost? I get that it potentially protects your precious patootie, but, have you considered the cost? Or have you considered that it must be possible to create several miles of "standard" unprotected bike lane for every mile of protected bike lane created.

    Which would you rather do: wait until a network of protected bike-lanes, equal in size and scope to the existing surface street network arises OR advocate for increased driver education in sharing the existing surface streets and legislating sanctions for non-compliance. Wake up. A completely separate equal road system for cyclists is never going to happen. It's too expensive and there is no guarantee that it will even fulfill its purpose of making cycling for transportation more attractive to non-riders. Just saying.

    H

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    well designed protected bike lanes can work but non-protected cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes are also good options. protected bike lanes that limit visibility by hiding cyclists behind cars or other barriers are almost always horrible infrastructure that greatly increase risk at intersections. unfortunately, instead of learning from northern europe these types of conflict-ridden protected bike lanes are common in the usa. protected bike lanes also make cycling more difficult by inhibiting left turns and mid-block crossing. i also believe that the current popularity of protected bike lanes among some advocates and planners has more to do with parking preservation than any advantage over buffered bike lanes.

    i also vehemently believe that no cyclist should be forced to ride in a bike facility. unfortunately many of those involved in campaigns, such as, "people for bikes/green lane project" are supporters of mandatory sidepath laws.
    Last edited by spare_wheel; 05-02-14 at 10:17 AM.
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

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    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    This topic came up recently with almost the exact same subject line. Kind of odd.
    The Rise Of The North American Protected Bike Lane

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    Quote Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
    well designed protected bike lanes can work but non-protected cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes are also good options. protected bike lanes that limit visibility by hiding cyclists behind cars or other barriers are almost always horrible infrastructure that greatly increase risk at intersections. unfortunately, instead of learning from northern europe these types of conflict-ridden protected bike lanes are common in the usa. protected bike lanes also make cycling more difficult by inhibiting left turns and mid-block crossing. i also believe that the current popularity of protected bike lanes among some advocates and planners has more to do with parking preservation than any advantage over buffered bike lanes.

    i also vehemently believe that no cyclist should be forced to ride in a bike facility. unfortunately many of those involved in campaigns, such as, "people for bikes/green lane project" are supporters of mandatory sidepath laws.
    Give me an example of a "well designed", protected cycle lane. It doesn't get much more well designed and protective than having a wall of bumper to bumper SUV's and light trucks running the length of the block. And talk about cheap! Hello. This is America. This is not northern (or western) Europe. Public money funds these civil projects in Europe and there is plenty of it because taxes are high and corruption is low. Protected bike lanes do not have to be built out of SUV's in Germany. Moreover, once a bike lane is built in an American urban center, drivers will react swiftly and in a very hostile manner to a cyclist that for whatever reason is spotted outside of the bike corridor. If said cyclist is killed or maimed because of such an encounter the punishment to the driver will be minimal. In Germany, that driver would not ever hold a valid license for such a long time that in effect it would be a permanent suspension of driver privileges. When drivers know that there is/are swift and significant punitive measures for infractions involving pedestrians or cyclists you get a much better environment for both. And... surprise, surprise, in such an enlightened environment, protected cycle paths become more about recreation than transportation! Bike paths eixist in Europe for pleasure! Transportation by bike is performed on the same roads that cars use! NYC has a nice Greenway running up the West-side of Manhattan. Is it practical transportation for a cyclist riding from Brooklyn to lower Manhattan? You'd better HTFU and master the art of navigating Flatbush Ave. and its extension onto the Brooklyn Bridge. Untold legions of cyclists do this daily. With things as they are. And likely to be as they are for the foreseeable future.

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    Some of the protected bikes lanes in the video look awesome. If you're separated by trees or medians, I think that would be great. Left turns are an issue and I don't know how those are dealt with.

    The only "protected" bike lane in the area I know of is here is on 1st Avenue. It sits between the sidewalk, a small buffer area, and a series of temporary bollards. Then there's parked cars, - if they've not tried to park in the bike lane. I'd actually just prefer a stripe to this arrangement. It's confusing to drivers. And after getting out of their cars, they have to cross the bike lane to get to the sidewalk.

    To cyclists it feels claustrophobic. There's not much room to pass anybody who's moving a lot slower.

    However, I have to keep in mind that even though Minneapolis ranks high in terms of per capita bike commuters, it's still just a small percentage of total commuters. Lots of people that are within easy cycling distance don't ride and a major reason is that they don't feel safe on city streets. As much as I don't like the protected lane we have, I could see it being more appealing to somebody who is afraid to ride on the street or in a standard bike lane.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

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    the sort of internecine disagreement, as evidenced here, has thwarted the aims of many a minority that would otherwise have benefited from ANY type of improvement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    the sort of internecine disagreement, as evidenced here, has thwarted the aims of many a minority that would otherwise have benefited from ANY type of improvement.
    Sure, some people have responded strongly, but really I'm just wondering if it's practical. Can I turn left w/o walking my bike like a pedestrian? I have been impressed by the ingenuity of some civil engineers, so I have no doubt those issues can be dealt with. I've just never seen a protected bike lane in person and have no idea how it works.

    I do agree that any sort of improvement is better. Anything that gets more people on bikes is a good thing for EVERYONE.

    EDITED: On further thought, I guess I have ridden on a protected bike lane. We have two trails that run parallel to major arteries, and I guess they would be the same thing. One of them just ends and will become a sidewalk (at the most congested part of the street :-( ). To turn left would require becoming a pedestrian.

    The other allows for easy access to the roundabouts. It would entail entering the intersecting street as a pedestrian (which I never dismount for) and then entering the roundabout like other traffic. To keep running parallel I can bypass the roundabout all together.

    These are not in the congested downtown areas, rather they are in a more suburban (style) setup on the outskirts of town. Lots of multi-lane roads going at high-speeds. I'm very happy the city put them in because they make the Westend way more bike-able, but the lanes are pretty much going to destination spots--exactly where I was headed anyway. In a city with a large number of possible destinations I could see these being used until the block before and then jumping on the main roadway and then negotiate your destination from there.

  19. #19
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    I get that the concept of protected bike-ways is an appealing one, but, have any of you advocates considered the cost? I get that it potentially protects your precious patootie, but, have you considered the cost? Or have you considered that it must be possible to create several miles of "standard" unprotected bike lane for every mile of protected bike lane created.

    Which would you rather do: wait until a network of protected bike-lanes, equal in size and scope to the existing surface street network arises OR advocate for increased driver education in sharing the existing surface streets and legislating sanctions for non-compliance. Wake up. A completely separate equal road system for cyclists is never going to happen. It's too expensive and there is no guarantee that it will even fulfill its purpose of making cycling for transportation more attractive to non-riders. Just saying.

    H
    One benefit is that on that section of the road, you no longer have frequent heavy loads traveling over it, so in theory it would last longer. I have seen roads where the car part was ground down and repaved because it was broken down, and the bike lane was untouched and in pretty decent shape.

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by seafood View Post
    This is a promo video, of course, but it's a shame that they lump all the different kinds of protected bike lanes into one category. I think there's a big difference in safety and viability trade-offs between bike lanes segmented from traffic by parked cars as opposed to some other means that's less inviting to interference by pedestrians. I have mixed experience with these bike lanes in NYC, but the ones with parked cars between the bike lane and traffic can be absolutely nightmarish to negotiate at any speed when there is a lot of activity, leading to unpredictable behavior by people crossing the bike lane: getting in and out of cabs, unloading delivery trucks, and of course getting into their own cars. Those areas and lanes aren't inviting to any seasoned rider, let alone a novice or a family with kids out for a leisurely time. I'm not even convinced that it's statistically safer than mixing it up with regular Manhattan traffic.
    I ride the protected bike lanes in New York all the time. In Manhattan, we're talking the wide and fast moving avenues (I'm not sure I see the point of door zone bike lanes or sharrows on the cross streets, but they can't hurt). I'm comfortable rinding on almost any street, but if the bike lane is there, I usually take it, and I'll even go a little bit out of my way to get to a lane. They are less than perfect; there are errant pedestrians, salmon, cars that park again the curb, other bikes doing stupid things, etc. However, you don't have to deal with riding next to moving cars, getting buzzed, getting passed too close, getting cut off, getting boxed in or squeezed by a snarl of traffic, the door zone, etc. There's a buffer between the parked cars and the lane, so you're not in the door zone. You have to stay on your toes, but then you have to stay on your toes everywhere. All in all, there's less to watch out for in the lane, and the things that jump at you are less likely to kill you.

    Negotiating the mixing zone at left turn intersections is a bit of a trick. The parking lane ends before intersection and turns into a turn lane for cars. There's space for you to see cars, and cars to see you. If traffic is clear, you ride in the turn lane so you can't get cut off. If there are cars, it's usually possible to merge into the turn lane and go straight while the cars are turning. Many intersection have bike signals. There's a red left turn signal for a short time for cars while bikes have green. When cars are allowed to turn, the bike signal turns red (granted, bike signals are roundly ignored by cyclists, as are all traffic signals).

    A parking protected bike lane doesn't have to be expensive; some are done with nothing but paint. When they use pedestrian islands for part of the lane, they're there more for pedestrians than bicycles. There are a few that are built on a median that are absolutely brilliant.

    As for bike lanes encouraging cycling, I believe it, based on an anecdotal sampling of one, that is me. When I started cycling in the city two years ago, I found the avenues quite daunting. They looked scary, and I had no idea how one was supposed to negotiate them. Bike lanes made it much easier to ease into riding while figure things out. Two years later, I don't need the bike lanes, but I'm glad they're there, and I use them.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Cyclosaurus's Avatar
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    If you don't also have a law that says that cars are presumed to be at fault, which is consistently and aggressively enforced, then protected bike lanes are probably a wash as far as the good they do. They remove bikes from traffic, which feels safer, but it also reduces drivers being acclimated to cyclists as part of traffic. It also puts cyclists at risk at intersections, especially right turns. For every good, there's real negatives. In some cases it might be a real improvement, in others it actually might be significantly worse.

    The Dutch government attributes the vastly lower rate of accidents/injuries for cyclists to the laws which protect cyclists and put the responsibility on drivers to be safe.
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  22. #22
    covered in cat fur katsrevenge's Avatar
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    Bring them on. I hate riding in traffic. It's no fun.

    Bike lanes for all!
    Just one of those dirty pinko commies some people worry about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    Give me an example of a "well designed", protected cycle lane.
    a bike lane that is separated by a lip of pavement instead of an opaque barrier. at one point we had a few posters from copenhagen on here and they agreed with me that the cycltracks separated by parking really suck because they greatly increase right hook and pull in/out risk. and anyone who has bike in northern europe knows that when the cycletrack or cyclepath gets congested cyclists spill into the streets.

    drivers will react swiftly and in a very hostile manner to a cyclist that for whatever reason is spotted outside of the bike corridor. If said cyclist is killed or maimed because of such an encounter the punishment to the driver will be minimal.
    i take the lane instead of a cycle track every morning in the usa.


    You'd better HTFU and master the art of navigating...
    lol! swimming the dirty river of urban traffic is my drug but i don't expect others to do the crazy @#$% that i do.


    Bike paths eixist in Europe for pleasure!
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by katsrevenge View Post
    Bring them on. I hate riding in traffic. It's no fun.
    Bike lanes for all!
    this is a common attitude in areas with few bike facilities. but poorly designed facilites can be worse than no facility at all.
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    the sort of internecine disagreement, as evidenced here, has thwarted the aims of many a minority that would otherwise have benefited from ANY type of improvement.
    getting mad because someone does not agree with you and then blaming them for lack of progress is a common rhetorical ouroboros.
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

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