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Old 07-10-07, 09:46 AM   #1
Brian Ratliff
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Bike lane advocates only:

What makes for a good bike lane?

Come on in here and offer your best advice. Tell a story about a particularly bad or good intersection or stretch of road and what makes it good or bad and what might be done to fix it, staying within the bike lane paradigm. Speak from your experience, we've heard all the theory. This is a thread to collect emperical data about what cyclists enjoy or don't enjoy from their bike lanes and how to make bike lanes better.
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Old 07-10-07, 10:10 AM   #2
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We have one on a stretch of road here that has signs telling motorists that right turns yield to bicycles. Along this same stretch, there are right turn lanes and the bike lane is still clearly marked in a straight line to the left of the right turn lane. I've seen many where the expectation becomes that the right turn lane is the bike lane. I also like this one lane that is in the upper part of a T intersection where there is a stoplight. The bike lane is clearly demarkated from the travel lanes' stoplight because there is no reason that the bike lane riders need ever stop.
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Old 07-10-07, 10:16 AM   #3
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I'd like to comment, whether I fit all the aforementioned criteria or not, because I'm a cyclist and have some experience here.

1) I prefer bike lanes that are very wide, say 5 feet of ashphalt or more, not including the paint, and especially not including the gutter pan. This gives me more lateral movement to avoid possible road hazards, etc.

2) I prefer drain covers be made as level as possible with the pavement when they are in the bike lane, whether they are sewer lids or drain grates. Of course, drain grates should be perpendicular to my tires.

3) This one I don't see much of, but I'm hoping: sweep the lanes regularly, and as needed especially when cleaning up after a car crash. A lot of that broken stuff gets pushed into the bike lane and left there. When I'm avoiding debris in the bike lane, often motorists don't know why I'm riding to the left of the bike lane line.

4) Include signs to indicate cyclists' option to leave the bike lane to turn, or to avoid hazards, perhaps something like, "Caution: Cyclists May Leave Bike Lane," or, "Cyclists May Use Any Lane."

5) Include more signs to indicate cyclists merging back into the regular lane when the bike lane ends, like, "End Bike Lane, Cyclists Merge."

There is a very nice bike lane on Edgewood Avenue in Atlanta, it's very wide and smooth, for the most part. Slower traffic speeds and nice neighborhood only 2 miles from downtown.

There are some bad "bike lanes" in the north side of Dekalb County, which are so narrow that they cause more problems than they are worth. And in some cases, there are bike lanes that gradually get more narrow until they are just a fog line, and it's hard to tell where they really stop. If a bike lane stops, it should be clearly marked as such, just as is done for normal lanes.
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Old 07-10-07, 10:27 AM   #4
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I posted a while ago about these bike lanes outside of Philly, but I feel it's worth posting again. The one positive thing that I've ever seen come from bike lanes were signs indicating that the bike lane was ending as the road was narrowing. I found them useful as they indicated clearly the the road width was no longer shareable and gave me time to merge left. These signs were clearly posted in advance of the lane ending or placed such that they were easy to see in advance of reaching the end of the lane which is what made them useful.
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Old 07-11-07, 08:34 AM   #5
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I find them useful uphill. Sort of like a right lane for slower trucks to use on climbs out on the highway.

On a NOL had to bail into a driveway this morning when a bus nearly plowed into the back of me with the driver scowling and mouthing something. Apparently I wasn't climbing fast enough for his liking?... of course as soon as he was passed me he had to slam on the brakes for congestion ahead, but I digress.
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Old 07-11-07, 09:37 AM   #6
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good bike lanes - wide, swept regularily, buffered from parking, thoughtful accomodation at minor curb cuts and to the left of right turn lanes at major intersections. signs stating "cars yield to bikes" placed at regular intervals.

Speed differentials make bike lanes more conducive for installment. i doubt many bike lane advocates are encouraging bike lanes on every residential street; bike lanes make much more sense along roads where cars travel 2.5 + times faster than the AVERAGE bicyclist.

I've seen good roads that include a bike lane AND a ped lane in ruralish suburbs. very good design in my opinion, protects peds with buffer zone and places cyclists in a more visible position than wide lanes do.

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Old 07-11-07, 01:59 PM   #7
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In my area, some good bike lanes are very far from the door zone and some bad ones are too close to the door zone.

Also, a bike lane was recently put in on a road where once there was only a fog line on the edge. That road is much more pleasant to ride on now and I don't have to ride through sand and weeds. Ok, so some of the weeds are coming back, but now I have space to avoid them without causing motorist conniptions that I'm "swerving randomly" because I can avoid them and stay in my lane.
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Old 07-11-07, 07:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
good bike lanes - wide, swept regularily, buffered from parking, thoughtful accomodation at minor curb cuts and to the left of right turn lanes at major intersections. signs stating "cars yield to bikes" placed at regular intervals.
Don't expect an arugment from me, here, Mr. Beko.
(I reiterate, "swept." )

(Still, something in me yearns for the same lane. )

Ok, I'm done, we're all friends here, right?
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Old 07-15-07, 12:51 AM   #9
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If I ever see a good bike lane I'll let you know. Around here they're all lousy. Narrow, dirty, misplaced, etc. I haven't seen one that's an improvement over the same road without a bike lane.
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Old 07-15-07, 03:24 AM   #10
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Florida cycling is different than any place Ive ever lived.
There are bike lanes all over the West Palm Beach area.
I love them !! There are only a few places that they coincide
with the Hummer / Canyonero parking lanes....Sometimes
they stop abruptly but then you can just jump up on the 6' wide
sidewalks as it appears walking is against the law.
What makes them good is that they are very clearly marked off
the way it would be best or a bcyclist to ride that stretch of
road, anyway. Too bad they couldnt work something out like that
for the sefish, arrogant and dangerous cars drivers that proliferate,
here
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Old 07-15-07, 08:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
If I ever see a good bike lane I'll let you know. Around here they're all lousy. Narrow, dirty, misplaced, etc. I haven't seen one that's an improvement over the same road without a bike lane.
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Originally Posted by -=£em in Pa=-
Florida cycling is different than any place Ive ever lived.
There are bike lanes all over the West Palm Beach area.
I love them !!
These two comments, for me, just about sum up the canyon that separates cyclists. We are not divided in our love of cycling. We are not divided in our desire to help our fellow cyclists, however we might understand that desire.

We are divided by our personal experience of cycling, our preferences of what constitutes enjoyable cycling, and the difference in the way we are accomodated on our local streets. Different places have different levels of quality and design.

I know my preferences. I prefer not to ride on sidewalk-paths where I am expected to yield right-of-way so often I can't make decent time (or enjoy my ride.) Besides, I live too far from work to do that, I'd be on my bike half a working shift. And I prefer to share a wide lane with motorists, rather than have a bike lane painted.

But not all cyclists agree with me. Should I expect them to?

Isn't it possible to cater to more than one kind of cyclist?
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Old 07-15-07, 08:30 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
But not all cyclists agree with me. Should I expect them to?

Isn't it possible to cater to more than one kind of cyclist
?
It's difficult to cater to everyone with limited resources. So no matter what happens, most of us will still be ranting and moaning on BF.
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Old 07-15-07, 08:33 PM   #13
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Just out of curiousity, why is this in the VC subforum? It isn't very VC specific. More of a general advocacy thing. I only ask since it seemed this subforum was created so that you could talk about things like this in the regular A&S without getting it turned into a VC thread every time. Of course it does seem that most everyone just migrated here.

As to the OP, all of the above recommentdations sound good. I can't think of anything else to add. Sadly I have yet to see any BL meeting the above criteria personally.

-D
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Old 08-15-07, 10:44 AM   #14
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Sadly I have yet to see any BL meeting the above criteria personally.
Drop by south Orange County, Ca. sometime. Wide, smooth, clean, well-marked bike lanes are the norm here. It's a situation that makes me think the "VC, take the lane" types are off their rockers. Living here makes it easy to forget that many cyclists still have to deal with narrow, shoulderless lanes -- and when those folks advocate a technique that may work for them but is utterly nonsensical for riders with good bike lanes, it's easy to start making fun.
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Old 08-15-07, 11:07 AM   #15
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Drop by south Orange County, Ca. sometime. Wide, smooth, clean, well-marked bike lanes are the norm here. It's a situation that makes me think the "VC, take the lane" types are off their rockers. Living here makes it easy to forget that many cyclists still have to deal with narrow, shoulderless lanes -- and when those folks advocate a technique that may work for them but is utterly nonsensical for riders with good bike lanes, it's easy to start making fun.
Ah ha. Well know we know why you feel the way you do. Hey hasn't most of south OC been built in the last 20 years?

Now try riding a bike in an older section of a town such as in LA or San Diego. Down here in SD the newer areas do have nice BL, but in the older areas of town, the roads are narrow and filled with parked cars. I live in a neighborhood built in the early 50s... every house has a single car garage. The other car is on the street. My street for example is so narrow that two cars can barely pass side by side. The arterial feeding my neighborhood is lined with parked cars and has two lanes... but there is no bike lane anywhere on that entire road. If I want to go east or west... I have no choice but to "take a lane."

Try cycling a mile in someone else's shoes before you heap criticism on their riding style. Helmet Head lives about 5 miles away from me, in an even older area of town that is only accessible by three main arterials, one of which is a freeway ramp.

Canyons and mesas define the geography of the area, and thus the roadways... quite often there is no "alternative path" unless it is a freeway... in fact, we have one of the rare interstate freeway bike lanes in California, because there is "no other route."
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Old 08-15-07, 11:37 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by jimmuter View Post
We have one on a stretch of road here that has signs telling motorists that right turns yield to bicycles. Along this same stretch, there are right turn lanes and the bike lane is still clearly marked in a straight line to the left of the right turn lane. I've seen many where the expectation becomes that the right turn lane is the bike lane. I also like this one lane that is in the upper part of a T intersection where there is a stoplight. The bike lane is clearly demarkated from the travel lanes' stoplight because there is no reason that the bike lane riders need ever stop.
Curious is there sign that states bikes need not stop or is it only a assumption? If theres a legal sign that says so i bet theres allot of bike commuters in your area hehe
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Old 08-15-07, 11:53 AM   #17
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Ah ha. Well know we know why you feel the way you do. Hey hasn't most of south OC been built in the last 20 years?
I've made no secret that my current opinions have been influenced by my current location -- that's one of the reasons I'm on record as saying something along the lines of "People should figure out what works for them in their situation, while remembering that their situation is unique". IOW, dogma isn't helpful.

Quote:
Now try riding a bike in an older section of a town such as in LA or San Diego. Down here in SD the newer areas do have nice BL, but in the older areas of town, the roads are narrow and filled with parked cars. I live in a neighborhood built in the early 50s... every house has a single car garage. The other car is on the street. My street for example is so narrow that two cars can barely pass side by side. The arterial feeding my neighborhood is lined with parked cars and has two lanes... but there is no bike lane anywhere on that entire road.
I've ridden in both places. Occasionally I "took the lane". I did not, however, ever feel as though I needed to make a habit of it, nor that "default center" was anything but a fool's game.

Quote:
If I want to go east or west... I have no choice but to "take a lane."
Which again brings us to the definition of "no choice". IMO, many VC advocates feel they almost always have "no choice", even in situations where the great majority of cyclists would be riding the shoulder.

Quote:
Try cycling a mile in someone else's shoes before you heap criticism on their riding style. Helmet Head lives about 5 miles away from me, in an even older area of town that is only accessible by three main arterials, one of which is a freeway ramp.
I apologize for ever having heaped criticism upon any body else's riding style. And I stand by my opinion that "taking the lane" is a poor and avoidable choice in most situations, that anyone arguing that "VC" is always the correct thing to do is wrong, and that substituting "VC" dogma for encouraging the development of bike lanes is stupid.

Quote:
Canyons and mesas define the geography of the area, and thus the roadways... quite often there is no "alternative path" unless it is a freeway... in fact, we have one of the rare interstate freeway bike lanes in California, because there is "no other route."
And again, I've done plenty of riding around canyons and mesas and still rarely found it necessary to impede traffic.

BTW, if "taking the lane" is always safe and appropriate, and car drivers just have to deal with it, why does that freeway have a bike lane? You should be able to just ride in front of 70 MPH traffic and expect the motorists to smile and wave as they safely change lanes to pass you. Right?
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Old 08-15-07, 12:17 PM   #18
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I've made no secret that my current opinions have been influenced by my current location -- that's one of the reasons I'm on record as saying something along the lines of "People should figure out what works for them in their situation, while remembering that their situation is unique". IOW, dogma isn't helpful.
But you are spouting dogma by suggesting that alternative routes or curb hugging is a viable solution. Heck I can't even get to the curbs in the area in and around my neighborhood. In other areas I willingly use the available bike lanes. But when there is no other way, I will and do take the lane. Narrow roads lined with parked cars offer no other alternative.

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I've ridden in both places. Occasionally I "took the lane". I did not, however, ever feel as though I needed to make a habit of it, nor that "default center" was anything but a fool's game.


Which again brings us to the definition of "no choice". IMO, many VC advocates feel they almost always have "no choice", even in situations where the great majority of cyclists would be riding the shoulder.
The "shoulders" here are curb filled parked cars. The majority of slow moving cyclists ride on the sidewalk. Is that your solution too?

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I apologize for ever having heaped criticism upon any body else's riding style. And I stand by my opinion that "taking the lane" is a poor and avoidable choice in most situations, that anyone arguing that "VC" is always the correct thing to do is wrong, and that substituting "VC" dogma for encouraging the development of bike lanes is stupid.
Well we partially agree... I think the discouragement of facilities by the strict VC crowd is just as foolish as not taking a lane when one needs too.
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And again, I've done plenty of riding around canyons and mesas and still rarely found it necessary to impede traffic.
I think you misunderstand... the nature of the road designs here follow geography of the area... the paths through the canyons and between mesas... hence only one road may go through... while other roads terminate on top of a mesa at the canyon edge... thus no alternative route.

Quote:
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BTW, if "taking the lane" is always safe and appropriate, and car drivers just have to deal with it, why does that freeway have a bike lane? You should be able to just ride in front of 70 MPH traffic and expect the motorists to smile and wave as they safely change lanes to pass you. Right?
I have made the same argument while citing the need for lowered speed limits... it is my contention that strict VC cycling "falls apart" when there is a high speed differential between cyclists and motorists... thus 50MPH+ arterials with freeway like ramps should not exist on shared surface streets and cycling advocates should not support groups that promote such designs.

BTW some freeways are quite ridable... and legal. I have personally ridden the interstates from San Diego to Arizona.
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Old 08-15-07, 12:37 PM   #19
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I think we're both bored and like to argue. Especially in reading your stuff on other threads, I really don't think we're very far apart in our opinions or our riding.
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Old 08-15-07, 01:53 PM   #20
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Hey I don't mind a good debate.

But the bottom line for me RE cycling is VC is not the be all end all solution, and in some cases facilities can be quite nice... so while I will ride as a strict VC when and where I need to, I don't see a need for VCers to deny facilities. Nor do I see it beneficial for the "father of Effective Cycling" to align with a group that views the automobile as the key to freedom, with their pursuit of 50-60MPH roads... due to a misinformed view of "efficiency."

At the same time, some facilities can be a load of junk... so I can understand why some cyclists think that that facilities suck... but all facilities are not bad, so blanket arguments against facilities are also wrong.

Frankly I am somewhere in the middle... arguing that well designed lower speed roads offer the best solution, and facilities can mitigate some issues where there are no alternatives to high speed roads. (a side argument in itself.)

I also feel that properly designed neighborhoods encourage walking and cycling... and that America needs to be weaned from it's oil habit... both for economic reasons and health reasons. It's high time we stop sucking on that metaphorical "big Gulp."

With that in mind, I am pro-cycling. I am not anti car, but I do feel that too often there is too high a dependence on the auto... and that mentality has been prevalent for far too long in America and in many ways has tainted the design of neighborhoods and cities. It is time to put the auto where it belongs... as a useful form of transportation suited for longer distances and greater loads than is practical for cycling. At the same time, while moving a piano can be done by bike, it just doesn't make sense.

With most trips from home being only 2-3 miles, there is no reason why those trips cannot be done on a bike... and lowering speed limits and enforcing motor vehicle laws and lastly encouraging walking and cycling, especially for children and others in good health, is only a good thing.
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Old 08-15-07, 02:15 PM   #21
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Like I said, we aren't all that different, I don't think. I'm a little too libertarian to hop on board with the oil deal -- I think supply and demand is going to sort that one out within our lifetimes -- but most of what you say makes sense to me.

But man... the idea of some of our siliconed, lipo'd, and Botoxed South County chicks riding to the mall with their Chihuahuas perched in their Luis Vitton bike baskets... good luck with that one!
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Old 08-15-07, 04:01 PM   #22
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Like I said, we aren't all that different, I don't think. I'm a little too libertarian to hop on board with the oil deal -- I think supply and demand is going to sort that one out within our lifetimes -- but most of what you say makes sense to me.

But man... the idea of some of our siliconed, lipo'd, and Botoxed South County chicks riding to the mall with their Chihuahuas perched in their Luis Vitton bike baskets... good luck with that one!
Hey, get Luis Vitton to make chihuahua baskets for bikes... and who knows?
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Old 08-15-07, 04:45 PM   #23
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Hey six jours... and others... have you seen this SFPD video? http://www.cyclelicio.us/2007/08/sfp...ing-video.html
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Old 08-15-07, 11:16 PM   #24
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Drop by south Orange County, Ca. sometime. Wide, smooth, clean, well-marked bike lanes are the norm here. It's a situation that makes me think the "VC, take the lane" types are off their rockers. Living here makes it easy to forget that many cyclists still have to deal with narrow, shoulderless lanes -- and when those folks advocate a technique that may work for them but is utterly nonsensical for riders with good bike lanes, it's easy to start making fun.
You forgot to mention that these bike lanes are generally on high speed roads with relatively long distances between intersections, very few driveways, and no on-street parking. Even those on this forum who aren't big into bike lanes would agree that if you're going to stripe a bike lane, best to do it on those kinds of roads. (I prefer the same space but without the bike lane stripe, but that's a subject for another thread.)

That said, most of the roads in the area that cross I-5 often require dealing with multiple lanes of traffic entering or exiting the freeway. Bike lanes are not striped through these interchanges - nor would there be a logical place to route them. Crossing I-5 can be a barrier to a potential commuter cyclists, if they are only comfortable on roads with bike lanes.
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Old 08-16-07, 08:06 AM   #25
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Bikes: 1983 Trek, 2001 Lemond, 2000 Gary Fisher
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCI_Brian View Post
You forgot to mention that these bike lanes are generally on high speed roads with relatively long distances between intersections, very few driveways, and no on-street parking. Even those on this forum who aren't big into bike lanes would agree that if you're going to stripe a bike lane, best to do it on those kinds of roads.
This is why we in Cary NC have been trying to get local engineers and planners to take our special Road 1 course designed for engineers and planners. Only with a firm understanding of vehicular cycling and real-world cycling safety tradeoffs will they understand this. Currently, the main criterion used by local planners/engineers for determining where bike lanes will or will not be striped is available pavement/ROW width, not junction frequency, door zones, roadway grade, traffic speeds/volumes, or any other operational criteria. Improved design requires the designers stop thinking like draftsmen and start thinking like competent road cyclists.
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