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Thread: Stripes II

  1. #1
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Stripes II

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    As Brian said, 17 feet of pavement is 17 feet of pavement. Who can't handle a stripe, or the lack of one?

    My own perspective, not a scientific one, just day-to-day commuting, is that bike lanes need to be clean.

    I'm for sweeping the bike lanes. If you install one, it's your job to keep it swept clean. Just the POV from a user.
    A second thing to consider about bike lanes, in addition to keeping them clean, is to provide adequate width.

    I read the AASHTO standards for bike lanes, and it appears that the outer bike lane stripe should be 5 feet from the curb, if the longitudinal joint between a 1 to 2 foot gutter pan and the road is smooth (where there is a curb and no on-street parking allowed.) The gutter pan is not to be included as part of the usable space. A minimum of 3 feet of resulting usable space is recommended. But if the joint between the gutter pan and the road is not smooth, a minimum of 4 feet of usable space is recommended.

    Consider that a bicycle can be about 2 feet wide, and that overtaking traffic should allow 3 feet of passing space. Even riding nearest the right edge of the pavement (not safe or practicable,) a cyclist would need 5 feet from the road edge, not including the gutter pan.

    As it is, these narrow designs force the cyclist to ride near the outside line of the bike lane. If debris is present, the usable space becomes almost negligible inside a 3 or 4 foot-wide bike lane. If a bike lane is to be similar to other traffic lanes, there should be some leeway on either side of the vehicle in the lane, especially in the case of a cyclist, who lacks the external safety protections that motorists enjoy.

    To provide adequate usable space on the road for a cyclist in a bike lane, even assuming only 2 feet of leeway on either side of the cyclist, a bike lane would have to provide a minimum of 6 feet of usable space, double the AASHTO standard. This simple calculation does not even take into account road debris in the bike lane, but it assumes regular sweeping, as was discussed in the previously mentioned thread.

    Thoughts?
    No worries

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    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I think that is a minimum standard. I rarely see anything that minimal in real life.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

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    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    I think that is a minimum standard. I rarely see anything that minimal in real life.
    Actually Diane, we have a whole thread on the subject:

    Bike lane follies

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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    I think that is a minimum standard. I rarely see anything that minimal in real life.
    Hi, Diane,

    I am glad about that! The newest bike lanes just installed after major road construction locally are cutting it as close as possible to the minimum standard, if not violating it (or winking a bit.) Maybe the minimum standards are too "minimal?"

    I got an e-mail from the county offices stating that in some places where there wasn't room for a bike lane, a narrow strip was added (using a stripe) without adding a stencil indicating it was a bike lane, just to give cyclists a "refuge."
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 04-11-07 at 09:47 AM.
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    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    BLs here tend to be 4' not including the gutter pan. This is definitely too narrow, especially considering most cyclists want to ride left biased in the lane, making handlebars, etc. hang over.

    This video shows a typical width BL. Note how parts of the bike/panniers hang over the stripe. Note how even when passing other traffic, the cyclist stays center/left in BL.

    youtube Z_68U0d1bWc

    Al

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    I think that is a minimum standard. I rarely see anything that minimal in real life.
    Welcome to the unique environment of Santa Barbara. Now to remind yourself what the rest of us encounter, take a ride down to Oxnard.

    Just last December a road here in San Diego was repaved and striped... and lo and behold, about a 3 foot BL resulted. Don't have time to find the pic right now... and it was protested and fixed... but that 3 foot BL is typical stuff... that seems to get put in place often.

    Now in the newer places in town, I do see nice wide BL. But often that 5 feet includes the gutter pan. It can be pretty obvious when the "stencil" also covers the gutter pan.

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    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Here is a BL that starts out meeting standards, then steps down to ~2ft. wide (including gutter pan!), then goes away.

    youtube PGfHdzu7xhE

    Note how at start of the video I am outside the BL behind the red car. This is an example of a BL stripe that continues thru to intersection where it instead should not be striped.

    Al

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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    Here is a BL that starts out meeting standards, then steps down to ~2ft. wide (including gutter pan!), then goes away.

    Al
    That might actually be useful to someone like Harry Potter, who can shrink his profile to squeeze though any traffic situation, and disappear if needed.
    No worries

  9. #9
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    An interesting observation I had recently was prompted by my switch from a fixed gear bike to a road bike (to prep it for a longer commute). Speed is most definitely part of the consideration here. I go slower on the fixed, and I feel more comfortable in smaller spaces. I go faster on the road bike and my speed is less controllable (both because of the higher speed and because of the freewheel transmission, and I want and take more space; I feel cramped and confined on the little streets which feel comfortable on my fixie.

    Couple this with the general observation that "bike lane proponents" many times ride in the inner city where speeds are naturally slower because of all the stops and space is constrained, and "bike lane opponents" are generally in sprawl type cities where major intersections are fewer in number and spaced further in between and speeds are higher for both automobiles and cyclists, and I get the impression that the WOL vs. BL controversy is really all driven by different cycling environments.

    Just food for thought. Perhaps this is not an either/or question but really one of optimization to a specific environment and a specific type of cyclist. How do you break the deadlock, you ask? Do like the politicians and take a poll. Don't pretend that there is some sort of data when there is none. If it is all anecdotal, take a poll at the local level (1's of miles, not 10's or 100's of miles type local) and ask what all the cyclists want. If they want bike lanes, put in bike lanes. If they want WOLs or nothing at all, do that.

    And enough of this "cyclist inferiority syndrome" or any such nonsense. Another thing I noticed: I made some route changes and found that even though I rode some high trafficed roads with no shoulders, single lane in each direction and 9 foot lanes regularly last summer during commute time -- I was considerably more comfortable and less stressed when I was on a road with shoulders on it. I rode part of an alternate route today which avoided the rural highway I'd been using last summer in favor of a higher trafficed road, still single lane in each direction, and higher speed, but with an 8 foot shoulder. Hands down better. Not a single close call or close pass or negotiation or hand wave or yell or horn. The stripe is useful, even to those who don't fear a narrow shared lane.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    ...I get the impression that the WOL vs. BL controversy is really all driven by different cycling environments.
    Brian, this thread is not intended to re-hash the "bike lanes vs. WOL debate" that has so often been bantered back and forth in these forums.

    My contention is that AASHTO design standards are insufficient, perhaps half as wide as is desireable. Diane pointed out that the standards are minimum, and that she rarely encounters anything that minimal. At the same time (in keeping with the spirit of your post regarding differing cycling environments and geographical variations,) the bike lanes being installed right now in my area are barely meeting the minimum requirements, if that.

    It is this substandard design that communicates a pervasive perception on the part of the general motoring public, as mirrored by traffic engineers and politicians, that cyclists are an inferior customer on the public roadways to be served only after the more importants customers, motorists, are taken care of.

    Leftovers.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 04-11-07 at 11:28 AM.
    No worries

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    A second thing to consider about bike lanes, in addition to keeping them clean, is to provide adequate width.

    I read the AASHTO standards for bike lanes, and it appears that the outer bike lane stripe should be 5 feet from the curb, if the longitudinal joint between a 1 to 2 foot gutter pan and the road is smooth (where there is a curb and no on-street parking allowed.) The gutter pan is not to be included as part of the usable space. A minimum of 3 feet of resulting usable space is recommended. But if the joint between the gutter pan and the road is not smooth, a minimum of 4 feet of usable space is recommended.

    Consider that a bicycle can be about 2 feet wide, and that overtaking traffic should allow 3 feet of passing space. Even riding nearest the right edge of the pavement (not safe or practicable,) a cyclist would need 5 feet from the road edge, not including the gutter pan.

    As it is, these narrow designs force the cyclist to ride near the outside line of the bike lane. If debris is present, the usable space becomes almost negligible inside a 3 or 4 foot-wide bike lane. If a bike lane is to be similar to other traffic lanes, there should be some leeway on either side of the vehicle in the lane, especially in the case of a cyclist, who lacks the external safety protections that motorists enjoy.

    To provide adequate usable space on the road for a cyclist in a bike lane, even assuming only 2 feet of leeway on either side of the cyclist, a bike lane would have to provide a minimum of 6 feet of usable space, double the AASHTO standard. This simple calculation does not even take into account road debris in the bike lane, but it assumes regular sweeping, as was discussed in the previously mentioned thread.

    Thoughts?
    A one mile uphill stretch of my commute is being repaved. This stretch has only one small intersection with almost nonexistent turning traffic (the light is almost always green). Typical cyclist speed is under 10 mph; typical motorist speed is 50 mph. There has been a substandard width bike lane here for years. Now that they're repaving, I'm lobbying for 5'. Wish me luck.

    The idea of keeping bike lanes clean is a farce. The best you could reasonably hope for is a sweeping once per week. Due to the sweeping nature of moving motor traffic, debris collects in unused adjacent roadway space in a matter of hours, if not minutes. Any debris that is dropped or blown into the traffic lanes is swept by motor traffic into the bike lane within minutes, if not seconds.

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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    ...I'm lobbying for 5'. Wish me luck.
    Even 5 feet is too narrow. You're not suffering from cyclist inferiority, are you? (joke, that's a joke...)



    Man, I really do wish you success!

    No worries

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    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    A one mile uphill stretch of my commute is being repaved. This stretch has only one small intersection with almost nonexistent turning traffic (the light is almost always green). Typical cyclist speed is under 10 mph; typical motorist speed is 50 mph. There has been a substandard width bike lane here for years. Now that they're repaving, I'm lobbying for 5'. Wish me luck.

    The idea of keeping bike lanes clean is a farce. The best you could reasonably hope for is a sweeping once per week. Due to the sweeping nature of moving motor traffic, debris collects in unused adjacent roadway space in a matter of hours, if not minutes. Any debris that is dropped or blown into the traffic lanes is swept by motor traffic into the bike lane within minutes, if not seconds.
    Why not lobby for reducing the speed limit to 40 MPH and forget the stripe?

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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galen_52657
    Why not lobby for reducing the speed limit to 40 MPH and forget the stripe?
    If they don't widen it, he might have to forget about the stripe.

    Which really bothers me, because then we are seen as riding where we don't belong.

    I don't know any non-cyclist that knows anything about why a cyclist might choose to legitimately leave a bike lane. As far as they are concerned, the stripe tells the whole story.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 04-11-07 at 12:35 PM.
    No worries

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    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I've was on a kick a few months back of saying that I can't even begin support BLs of any kind until there is a better standard, suggesting that the best thing advocates of BLs could do would be to improve the standard.

    Any standard that calls out a minimum, will result more often than not in minimum implementation.

    AASHTO also allows for BLs in DZs. (With a slightly higher 5' mininum width - see page 22)

    AASHTO guidelines here: http://communitymobility.org/pdf/aashto.pdf

    On page 5 begins the trouble. Note that under 'The Bicycle' the guide suggests that a cyclist only needs 1m to operate in, and recommend a minimm of 1.2m (4') space.

    Page 22 shows a picture of a BL that likely meets standards, but it obvioulsy too narrow. Note how all the cyclists are riding near the stripe, parts of them hanging over it.

    Al

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    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    LBM: you missed my point. My point is that space needs to be tailored to riding conditions and the expected ridership. Inner cities, where speeds are slower, require less space for cyclists. Arterials and highways need more space. Likewise, faster cyclists will always want more space, while slower riders are content with less space. My experience switching from the fixie to the road bike was in illustration of this and is what prompted my post. When I was going slower, on a slower route on a slower bike, 5' was plenty. When I upped my speed, on the faster bike, 5' felt a bit cramped, and less than that, I just rode in partially in the lane.

    My main point is that you are looking for generalities when the problem may be more complex than that. If I were looking for the "universal bike lane", FWIW, I'd choose 5-6 feet as a minimum standard.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Brian,
    I ride on BL roads with different kinds of bikes at all speeds (10-30mph) and never really felt the BL width available felt more or less right with my varied speed.

    Sure more space is nice for suburban BLs (assuming they are cleaned, a wider lane will collect even more debris). But more important (to me) is that the stripe is not present at intersection approaches.

    Al

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    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Personally, I think one needs 6' to operate any single track vehicle. Since balance is part of operating the vehicle than some wobble room on either side is necessary. Cyclists when climbing slowly probably wobble more than scooters or motorcycles.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galen_52657
    Why not lobby for reducing the speed limit to 40 MPH and forget the stripe?
    First, I don't believe speed limits have much effect. They lowered the speed limit from 45 to 35 on another stretch a few years ago, and it made little difference. Plus, it's normal/natural/safe to drive 50 there.

    This is a long uphill stretch with essentially no intersections. It is about as close in conditions to those that warrant a slow truck lane as one might possibly have.

    Practically speaking, what's most likely to happen is they restripe the substandard width bike lane. There is an outside chance to get a standard width bike lane (gutter pan + 4'). I'm hoping to get that by asking for 5'. I would need to have much more support than I currently I have in the local cycling community to get rid of the stripe altogether. This is a designated bike route, and the bike plan calls for a bike lane here, etc. They've started the repaving project and will probably be restriping in the next few days.

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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    LBM: you missed my point. My point is that space needs to be tailored to riding conditions and the expected ridership. Inner cities, where speeds are slower, require less space for cyclists. Arterials and highways need more space. Likewise, faster cyclists will always want more space, while slower riders are content with less space.

    ...FWIW, I'd choose 5-6 feet as a minimum standard.
    I agree for 6 foot minimum.

    As for varying speeds and lane widths that correspond to those speeds, I'd design bike lanes to accomodate the fastest anticipated speeds, not the slowest. Nevertheless, I don't think bike lane width should vary according to anticipated speed of cyclists who may use it, unless you're talking about widening it even further than 6 feet.

    Heck, I can outstretch my arms to reach almost 6 feet (yes, I'm short, but I'm not 5 feet! )
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 04-11-07 at 01:06 PM.
    No worries

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    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Folks... I am talking about my personal observations about cyclist's speed. Just something I noticed. HH, that means that if your 45 turned 35 mph road you are still riding at 20 mph, then it doesn't pertain to my point. Get on a fixed gear where your speed is actively limited to a 15 mph average on the flat, and the experience is different. I suspect that most transportational cyclists, unless they are traveling many miles, don't have to and don't, in fact, hold a 20 mph average.

    LBM: I'm not necessarily suggesting variable width lanes here. I'm just making the observation. Road design is another matter entirely, and I, for one, am unqualified to engineer a road. Keep in mind that there is no inherent reason to build a bike lane for the maximum cyclist travel speed if the road is space limited. Riders who average faster speeds can simply take the lane. In my perfect world, cyclists are accomodated but also accepted on the full roadway as part of traffic with no caveats. To put it another way, why should road accomodations be focused on the few fast, athletic, capable cyclists who make up a small percentage of transportational cyclists? Why not design the bike lane, for example, for slower cyclists and let the more capable cyclists merge with car traffic when needed?
    Last edited by Brian Ratliff; 04-11-07 at 01:49 PM.
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    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    ...Road design is another matter entirely, and I, for one, am unqualified to engineer a road.
    I'd rather have you design a bike lane than whoever is responsible for some of the bike lanes we have. At least you are an experienced cyclist.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 04-11-07 at 01:55 PM.
    No worries

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Folks... I am talking about my personal observations about cyclist's speed. Just something I noticed. HH, that means that if your 45 turned 35 mph road you are still riding at 20 mph, then it doesn't pertain to my point. Get on a fixed gear where your speed is actively limited to a 15 mph average on the flat, and the experience is different. I suspect that most transportational cyclists, unless they are traveling many miles, don't have to and don't, in fact, hold a 20 mph average.
    San Diego is very hilly. The only time I can come close to a 20 mph (19 and change) average over any significant distance is when hanging on for dear life in a club peloton.

    On this particular stretch where they went from 45 to 35, my morning commute is mostly downhill (but not very steep) and in the 20-30+ range, and my return commute is 8-18.

    While I'm sure the experience is significantly different on the downhills between free/multi and fixed, not so much on the gradual climbs. That said, I should mention that a few guys do manage to hang with the weekend peloton riding a fixie, so I'm not so sure the difference is that great, at least not for someone who is in exceptionally good shape (that would not be me!).

    To put it another way, why should road accomodations be focused on the few fast, athletic, capable cyclists who make up a small percentage of transportational cyclists? Why not design the bike lane, for example, for slower cyclists and let the more capable cyclists merge with car traffic when needed?
    Because even the "fast, athletic, capable" cyclists often can't keep up with motor traffic speeds, but are going too fast to be riding as close to the road edge as the bike lane typically places them. It makes it unnecessarily difficult to ride in traffic, slowing it down, when there is a bike lane off to the side and no apparent reason (to the motorists and cops) for you to not be using it.

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    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Perhaps you are, Brian, but I don't think you're less qualified to design a bike lane than those responsible for some of the engineering feats I've witnessed. I'd rather have you design a bike lane than them.
    Perhaps. But I suspect that cyclists sometimes get a bit of a god complex when we start describing bicycling accomodations we would like to see built. Did you see the Simpson's episode where Homer is asked by his distant relative to design a car for him? You can imagine that it didn't turn out very well...

    Consumers (and all cyclists are basically consumers of bicycle accomodations of all sorts), are generally incompetent designers. Consumers make great evaluators, but hand them a blank sheet of paper and they wouldn't know what to do with it. I am a mechanical engineer by trade, but I have little experience (I've been working for round about 3 years now). I know enough to respect the fact that engineering design skill is built up through experience, not schooling. In fact, I believe that engineering is the only professional organization where you can obtain professional certification (the PE) through experience alone; you don't need a degree in Engineering to obtain a PE certification. All you need is experience.

    So I'd say that I'd easily be able to evaluate a certain bicycling facility already implemented on the road, but I am not qualified to design one from scratch. It could very well be that there are very few people in the country who are qualified to design bike accomodations from scratch, since the engineering problem is so new. But a knowledge base is certainly being built up using the road engineer's best designs, integrated in time. In my experience, I haven't seen bicycle accomodations regress in time; what is rebuilt is better than what was torn out, so progress is being made; just have patience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    In my perfect world, cyclists are accomodated but also accepted on the full roadway as part of traffic with no caveats. To put it another way, why should road accomodations be focused on the few fast, athletic, capable cyclists who make up a small percentage of transportational cyclists? Why not design the bike lane, for example, for slower cyclists and let the more capable cyclists merge with car traffic when needed?
    Ideal world, sure. But this is not an ideal world and the question is not so much what cyclists want as what society, meaning the motorists who are the predominant roadway users, expect. Do you think that the typical motorist can tell whether a cyclist is traveling at 16 mph or at 21 mph? I don't think the motorist would bother, except when considering merging or turning in front of, and then I expect he would consider the observed movement rather than the speed in mph. A facility suitable for high speed is also suitable for low speed.

    Many years ago I measured the speed of cyclists commuting into Ames Aeronautical Laboratory at the start of the working day, at a location with a long level stretch and on a day without wind. The speed range was from 12 to 22 mph, 16 mph average and 18 mph 85 percentile speed.

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