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  1. #1
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    Why do "bike lanes" seem to have the WORST possible paving?

    Several mapped bike lanes our where I ride are on major through streets, running east and west and vice-versa. The one that is best does have the best pavement in the bike lane--this is the one you see most of the big-time bicycle dudes on. Others in the area are pretty horrendous, with poor paving in the bike lane itself (the paving is just dandy out where the cars run), missing pavement, poorly edged access covers for various things, and many, many 2 to 3 inch deep dropouts from someone digging throught the asphalt to get at something and then not back-filling correctly/adequately. And those drop outs always seem to be in the shade where they are harder to see, especially with sunglasses on due to a sunny day.

    I get bored with riding the same streets all the time. . .

    The next time I hit a dropout (like above) and whang my bike so hard it rattles my teeth, I 'm ridin' to city hall and am going to complain big time. I try to see this stuff, but I don't always catch it.

    Why have a bike lane when parts are unride-able? Is it a status thing for a city?

  2. #2
    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    Bike paths are rarely designed by cyclists, are generally built as an after-thought to other road building and are rarely well-thought out. This month's Cycling Plus magazine has a wonderful set of photographs of a bike path that includes lamposts, barriers etc.
    Currently riding an MTB with a split personality - commuting, touring, riding for the sake of riding, on or off road :)

  3. #3
    Senior Member fujibike's Avatar
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    In my case, some of the lanes/shoulders I ride on are traversed by Amish buggies. Which means they can get a little rutted and eventually the macadam begins to decay in those ruts.

  4. #4
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    Probably because it's very difficult to get a anyone (private firm, city, state or national government) to invest much or do a good job at something it doesn't want to do or see value in.

    Moreover, when it's something that's mandatory, but not quantified with standards and funding profiles that will satisfy the standards you get what you get... sometimes just a painted line along the cruddy existing shoulder of a road.

    In our local area, they've been working on a 1.5mi "bike path" (actually, a Multi Use Path or MUP) adjacent to the Kennesaw National Battlefield Park for the past 6 months. Yes, 6 months, and the road bed has been prepared as much as the road next to it. I shudder to think how much money was spent "overbuilding" that path and how those numbers will be used in the future to illustrate how cost ineffective such paths are.

    Mind you, I'm not a fan a bike lanes and am absolutely opposed to using transporation funds on "recreational" projects. This particular "path" will be unusable for advanced cyclists on weekends and on weeknights -- given all the pedestrian traffic that will use the path, e.g., folks walking from their parked cars to the park entrance and local runners who will undoubtably find this an attractive option vs. running on side streets in the nearby communities. Therefore, seasoned cyclists (commuters and follks out for training rides) will continue to ride on the road next to the path. This situation will only serve to make many motorists who are not what I'd call fans of cyclists that much more resentful of cyclists and how their tax dollars were wasted on a bike path that the unappreciative cyclists who don't should now be required to use.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 01-30-05 at 10:06 PM.

  5. #5
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    Around here they ruined (in my opinion of course) a good section of a bike lane by redoing the road next to it with cheap asphault and just paved over the bike lane. You can't feel the uneveneness in a car, but on a bike it's pretty painful. And then there is another section on a different road where they paved the street wonderfully, but left the bike lane in tact in it's horrible condition. Like everyone has said, it's hard to justify spending money perfecting the paths used in a recreational activity.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigFloppyLlama
    Around here they ruined (in my opinion of course) a good section of a bike lane by redoing the road next to it with cheap asphault and just paved over the bike lane. You can't feel the uneveneness in a car, but on a bike it's pretty painful. And then there is another section on a different road where they paved the street wonderfully, but left the bike lane in tact in it's horrible condition. Like everyone has said, it's hard to justify spending money perfecting the paths used in a recreational activity.
    I guess what irks me is the cities around here (mine included) make a big deal about the bike lanes and recreational facilities they have, but the bike lanes are mostly an afterthought--"Oh, we can put up a couple of signs, paint a line and lookit all the brownie points we can score!"

    As for the uneveness of the roads, I hear you. I remember as a kid, going down newly paved roads around our house and thinking how cool it was to be able to go so smoothly down the road on my bike. Now the companies that pave the roads seem to take no pride in their work; it's just spread it and roll it as fast as possible-- and boy are they wowied and bumpy in places.

    Oh, well.

  7. #7
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foehn
    Now the companies that pave the roads seem to take no pride in their work; it's just spread it and roll it as fast as possible-- and boy are they wowied and bumpy in places.
    And the irony is that they'll have to redo it much sooner as a consequence. There's never enough money to do it properly, but there's always enough money to do it over.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  8. #8
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Around here many of the "bike lanes" have good paving but are littered with glass, metal bits, gravel, and trash because that area of the road isn't "swept" by the gusts from passing vehicles.
    Other than the trash hazards, riding in them can, at times, be more dangerous than riding in the road. Many motorists don't yield to cyclists or signal when turning (crossing over the bike lane).

    Some roads that don't have bike lanes have narrow shoulders, adequate shoulders with r-u-m-b-l-e s-t-r-i-p-s, or no shoulders at all. These roads are also littered with the above mentioned debris.

    It's tough fighting city hall and highway departments when they are more concerned about budgets and pleasing the overwhelming majority of road users - the motorists.
    My bikes: 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2015 Cannondale Supersix EVO carbon

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  9. #9
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    www.labikepaths.com I almost never ride in the street bikepaths.I go to the san gabriel river trail,la river bike paths.San gabriel goes from seal beach which you can get off and go pch forever and the asphalt isnt to bad to past whittier up to Duarte dam.

  10. #10
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    We have one bike lane in our city of 300,000. It is down both sides of a 2.5 mile road. I thought the signs said "Bike Lane" but it appears the say "Place all yard waste here"
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  11. #11
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    In my experience, in addition to other safety hazards, the bike lane also often corresponds to the area in the road way that contains many of the buried utility lines. So, anytime that a utility installation/repair is performed, the bike lane is excavated and backfilled. It is almost impossible to get a good quality of backfill/compaction in a small or narrow utility excavation, so it settles out or otherwise bccomes shoddy pavement within a very short time of the utility work. Just another reason why bike lanes suck...

  12. #12
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH
    Around here many of the "bike lanes" have good paving but are littered with glass, metal bits, gravel, and trash because that area of the road isn't "swept" by the gusts from passing vehicles.
    Other than the trash hazards, riding in them can, at times, be more dangerous than riding in the road. Many motorists don't yield to cyclists or signal when turning (crossing over the bike lane).

    This is why when riding I treat bikelanes as nothing more than any other shoulder on the edge of the roadway. There is value in some of them, but I have no hesitation leaving a bikelane if it doesn't go where I want it to go, or isn't up to what I consider an acceptable standard.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  13. #13
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    I have experience of bike lanes in two towns. In my hometown (pretty small), there's only one major bikepath that I'm aware of. It runs most of the length of the main road through town, from one end of the high street to the train station on the edge of town. The actual path is pretty good, nice smooth concrete slabs, with the occasional signpost to avoid (right on the line though, not in the middle). But since it's half of the sidewalk, it's often full of peds, old people in particular. But the worst bit is, you can't go more than 100yds without hitting a sidestreet, and the dropped curbs that come with them. Not rideable on a 700c bike And there's also a gutter running the entire length of the road (about 2 or 3 miles) that is impossible to cross without major hand and leg abrasions.

    The other, my uni town, is much bigger and has a lot of bike paths. Some are two lane footpaths (one lane for peds, one for wheels) along the river and through the park, and some are along the main streets through town. The ones on the streets are full of painful backfilled repairs, manhole covers, debris, and of course cars (and the white lines and bike logos painted in them are so thick you can barely go near them). The ones in the park are much better (wider, no traffic etc), but still covered in cracks from underlying tree roots, poorly repaired tarmac and so on. And as the path crosses the river several times, there are many footbridges that were presumably there before the cycle paths; most are too narrow to ride if anyone else is on the bridge (although the narrowest have 'Cyclists Dismount' signs), all are even more poorly surfaced, and a fair few seem to have been built several inches above the path, the difference built up in tar. Neither easy or comfortable to ride across.

    The problem is, the people that put them there seem to think they are ok, because no-one is telling them they're not. If you have a crappy bike path in your town, write to your Mayor and complain about it, not just once, but every time you use it or are forced to ride in the street because it's so bad.

  14. #14
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    Amongst the many problems I have with separated bike paths (running along the sidewalk), are:
    Poor surface: the roller used to flatten it is a small diameter which sets up a frequency of bumps ideal for disrupting cyclists.
    Poor camber. Corners often slope away to the outside.
    Poor junctions. 1" drops to the road surface where they cross side roads, at the place where you have to look backwards.
    Too tight corners.

    Does any school of civil engineering or transport planning do any serious study of bike faciilities, in the way they do for cars.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Stubacca's Avatar
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    There's only one bike lane on my work commute that I religiously use (on S Havana from Belleview to Arapahoe). The rest are too poorly designed (bad camber, set inside too many turning lanes, etc) or so full of debris that riding in them is even more unsafe than the footpath. My memory of the bike lanes I rode on in Australia was that they often contained the wheelie bin that should have been up behind the gutter!

    Bike lanes (and dedicated paths, for that matter) are just not that important to the people who design and build them. Writing to the local government to complain about these is a good idea - I just might start doing that!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    www.labikepaths.com I almost never ride in the street bikepaths.I go to the san gabriel river trail,la river bike paths.San gabriel goes from seal beach which you can get off and go pch forever and the asphalt isnt to bad to past whittier up to Duarte dam.
    shokhead, thanks for that link. I have ridden the trail that runs from Santa Ana dam to the beach, but it was many years ago. I remember it as a very pleasant ride, both down and up.

  17. #17
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    Yea, they need to work a little hard on getting bike paths right. In Thorold, Ont there is a path beside the Welland Canal. As per HTA (Highway traffic act) in Ontario, bike are band from the road on this stretch and forced to use the multi-use path. It has 90 turns and telephone pole/ chain link fence combo that are narrower than handbars.
    Just no thought. Write to City Hall and complain
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  18. #18
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonny B
    The problem is, the people that put them there seem to think they are ok, because no-one is telling them they're not. If you have a crappy bike path in your town, write to your Mayor and complain about it, not just once, but every time you use it or are forced to ride in the street because it's so bad.
    Better still, just start riding in the street anyway. Once you do it a few times, you'll realise it's a much more civilised place to ride.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    Better still, just start riding in the street anyway. Once you do it a few times, you'll realise it's a much more civilised place to ride.
    I totally agree, but then the problem becomes the motorists yelling at you to use the bike path...and possibly endangering you with their vehicles on purpose, while acting as the 'road police' and even trying to force you off the road (and it certainly doesn't help if they've listened to a little too much drive-time Clear Channel, either...).

  20. #20
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    I totally agree, but then the problem becomes the motorists yelling at you to use the bike path...and possibly endangering you with their vehicles on purpose, while acting as the 'road police' and even trying to force you off the road (and it certainly doesn't help if they've listened to a little too much drive-time Clear Channel, either...).
    That's where you hold your ground. Every day I ride through the locality with by far the worst drivers in Australia (very probably the world). The event of actually being forced off the road happens surprisingly rarely. As far as verbal abuse goes, you become de-sensitised to that eventually.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  21. #21
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    The problems with Bike lanes on fast multi-lane street is the fact that cars expect you to MAINTAIN your position inside the bike lane at ALL times. With this assumption in mind, they pass you at full speed instead of going around carefully. The point will come when you do have to get out of the bike lane and if cars are at full speed, you will have to stop or risk getting killed.

  22. #22
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    The problems with Bike lanes on fast multi-lane street is the fact that cars expect you to MAINTAIN your position inside the bike lane at ALL times. With this assumption in mind, they pass you at full speed instead of going around carefully. The point will come when you do have to get out of the bike lane and if cars are at full speed, you will have to stop or risk getting killed.
    A glance over the shoulder and a gradual movement out of the lane (as opposed to a sudden swerve) is particularly effective at dealing with that very situation.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  23. #23
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Don't forget to signal your lane change!

    Plus, a rear view mirror makes it a lot easier to tell who's behind you in the next lane, before making your move. If I had a choice, I think I'd ride w/o my helmet before I rode w/o my mirror!

    And remember, the less educated motorists will think you should remain in the bike lane no matter what -- not being cyclists themselves, they don't understand the dooring problem or other issues that cyclists have w/ the bike lane -- so expect some idiot motorists to verbally harass any time you leave the bike lane for whatever reason...

  24. #24
    05 Roubaix Comp Double
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    Don't forget to signal your lane change!

    Plus, a rear view mirror makes it a lot easier to tell who's behind you in the next lane, before making your move. If I had a choice, I think I'd ride w/o my helmet before I rode w/o my mirror!

    And remember, the less educated motorists will think you should remain in the bike lane no matter what -- not being cyclists themselves, they don't understand the dooring problem or other issues that cyclists have w/ the bike lane -- so expect some idiot motorists to verbally harass any time you leave the bike lane for whatever reason...
    Go ahead.

  25. #25
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    Bike lanes: It's a power/status issue. In America the car is a god, who must be appeased. It thus receives sacrifices of vast wealth & 50,000 lives every year. Its divine consort is petroleum, for which Washington has killed 1.5 million Iraqis via sanctions & seized Eurasia. There's not much profit in bicycles. If there were, Bush would be invading the rubber-producing nations of Asia.
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