There seems to be much confusion about the Vehicular Cycling position on bike lanes. This is exemplified by a recent post in another thread:
The purpose of this thread is to try address some of that confusion. Whether you agree or disagree with this description of the VC position on bike lanes, please vote in the poll accordingly, and explain why you disagree (if you disagree) in a post.And yet, you insist that I ride in a bike lane when it is available, and not test your concepts outside the bike lane. But you want me to be outside the bike lane much further away from an intersection. Interesting...
To ride vehicularly, you decide where you ride independent of the presence of the bike lane stripe according to the two fundamental VC principles of lane positioning:
Note that these basic VC principles apply equally whether bike lane stripes are present or not.
- Speed positioning. Between intersections, when faster same direction traffic is present, and it is safe and reasonable to do so, right about 3' to the right of traffic.
- Destination positioning. At intersections and their approaches, choose your position based on your destination, including moving left of the space normally used for right turns by vehicle drivers if you're going straight.
Also, please note that the following comments, which is what seems to confuse some folks, apply to the corresponding VC principles.
- If about 3' to the right of traffic happens to put you to the right of a bike lane stripe (in the bike lane), so be it. If not, that's fine too. You should not decide to avoid space that is appropriate to ride in per the speed positioning principle above simply because that space is demarcated as a bike lane. If the bike lane is too narrow for your speed (i.e., riding 3' to the right of traffic puts you too close to the curb for that speed), or is full of debris or other hazards, or you're preparing for a left turn, or it is unsafe or unreasonable to ride in the bike lane for some other reason, then, yes, by all means, get the heck out of it. But to avoid riding in space simply because that space is demarcated as a bike lane is not VC.
- If a curbside bike lane is present as you approach an intersection where you are going straight, applying the destination positioning principle generally means moving left out of the bike lane as you approach that intersection. If a curbside bike lane is present as you approach an intersection where you are turning left, applying the destination positioning principle generally means moving left out of the bike lane well before you reach the intersection, so that you have plenty of time and distance to merge left for the turn, which often requires the need to negotiate for Right of Way with faster traffic as you merge left.