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Do those who design bike lanes ride bikes?

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Do those who design bike lanes ride bikes?

Old 09-15-17, 05:05 PM
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elocs
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Do those who design bike lanes ride bikes?

Do they even consult with actual cyclists about the bike lanes they intend to create?

In my city of 50,000 they have come up with something called a "road diet" where they took a street that for some unknown reason had 4 lanes but not the traffic to justify it and made it into 3 lanes--one in each direction with a middle left turn lane and then using the saved lane to create a bike lane on each side of the street. The bike lane is the concrete gutter and 3 feet of blacktop and then the painted, white bike lane line. Now if you stay out of the gutter (which is clean but the sewer grate could pull in your tire) and ride on the blacktop section, and vehicles must give you 3 feet clearance when they pass, then they must pull partway into the center turn lane to do it. Ironically in this 5 block stretch of street there is little need to turn left and without a center turn lane both lanes of traffic could be wider as well as the bike lanes. I think that had the engineers consulted some bike riders they could have discovered their bike lane design shortcomings. Their intentions were good and fortunately the only cost was for paint.

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Old 09-15-17, 05:21 PM
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Three lane roads actually work well in many places. The design allows passing traffic room to move over safely most of the time.

No comment about putting bikes in the gutter, and odds are that I'd just ride in the traffic lane knowing there room for drivers to pass.
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Old 09-15-17, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Three lane roads actually work well in many places. The design allows passing traffic room to move over safely most of the time.

No comment about putting bikes in the gutter, and odds are that I'd just ride in the traffic lane knowing there room for drivers to pass.

If cyclists choose to ride in the lane of traffic, then that defeats the entire purpose of the whole thing. And any adult cyclist should be able to ride their bike on 3 feet of smooth blacktop without having to go into the lane of traffic. The point of a bike line is for cyclists to have a more safe and separate space to ride, separate from traffic. And adults who have the ability to ride in traffic can do that anywhere and probably don't need a bike lane (that or look down their noses at them) but there are many young people and kids who do need that kind of safer space.

Three lane roads are designed to move motorized traffic, not bikes. The entire purpose of changing this stretch of road from 4 lanes to 3 was to be able to have a bike lane on each side. My point is that had they consulted with bike riders they might well have been told that the bike lanes could be wider and that the center turn lane could be narrower because this is not a busy street. When a city creates bike lanes and then it is observed that there are cyclists who choose not to use them and ride in traffic, does that encourage the city to create more bike lanes or not?
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Old 09-15-17, 05:38 PM
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Urban planners usually consult with cyclists, but there are cyclists and then there are cyclists.

In my area, which is very cycling conscious and friendly, we still see significant differences of experience and opinion among cyclists. Some will only ride the MUP. Some will rarely ride the MUP, preferring streets or gravel roads. Some of the MUP riders drive to and from their bike rides and can't imagine ever riding in traffic. But they still have input into cycling infrastructure.

On a local cycling group's Facebook page recently, a person who claimed to be an avid cyclist was outraged that a cyclist would use the highway access road near her driving commute. She posted a photo purportedly showing some sort of violation or offense. The photo showed a long stretch of unused three lane access road with the cyclist appropriately taking the lane of the rightmost lane, in nobody's way, while she photographed the "offense" from inside her vehicle in the leftmost lane. When we pointed out there was no problem and the cyclist was riding within the law, she cussed us out and deleted the entire thread. And this was supposed another cyclist.

So, there are cyclists and there are cyclists.

Add to that the joggers, walkers and ordinary pedestrians and things get really complicated. During a meeting of MUP managers with local cyclists we realized one of the MUP managers wasn't a cyclist but was an avid jogger who believed cyclists should use only the paved path and joggers should use only the chat trail (crushed limestone). She had no idea that gravel biking is a thing, or that many pedestrians and joggers preferred the paved path while many cyclists preferred the chat trail. Yet she had significant influence over policies for MUP use. We hoped that meeting might result in more sensible policies.

Our mayor is an avid cyclist, often participating in large sponsored group rides on the streets and cycling/walking town halls. She's terrific. But I noticed a bit of a communication gap several months ago when I suggested changes to a notoriously reckless street. It's a wide boulevard, usually three lane on each side of the median divider, and designed in a way that encourages speeding and reckless driving. It's not a highway, but it's built like one. So some wannabe NASCAR racers drive 70 mph on a street marked 45 mph, juking for position, passing on the right, etc.

Meanwhile, the boulevard is encouraging increasing home development, with demands for better infrastructure for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists. Eventually the two will conflict -- residents who want safe public spaces, and drivers who think a 45 mph boulevard is their personal race track.

I pointed on the safety problems, but the city officials interpreted this as meaning we should take the rightmost of the three lanes and covert it to a bike lane. That wasn't my intention at all.

What I suggested was getting rid of the outmoded sidewalks. Those lovely, wide, tree lined things alongside boulevard, with 12-20 feet of mostly manicured lawn and a stupidly narrow 4 foot wide sidewalk. Completely pointless. It looks good in plans presented by architects and designers. But these things serve no practical function.

Instead, stop building endless strips of meandering lawns between streets and businesses or homes. Make those multi-purpose paths for cyclists, joggers and pedestrians. Modify the rightmost vehicle lanes to slower, turn-only lanes with staging areas for vehicles to wait a moment while people on foot or bicycle pass. Design and enforce those intersections to ensure drivers get the message.

It can be done, but it begins with the urban planners, designers, architects and engineers incorporating these into the plan, not tacking them on later as an afterthought.
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Old 09-15-17, 05:43 PM
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Sounds like they took the cookie cutter approach instead of considering the actual traffic need. First, if they don't really need the middle lane for turning traffic, they could have eliminated it. Then they would have been able to line in a bike lane that did not rely on the debris catching gutter. If they still had additional width, they could have even considered a protected bike lane.

I'm sure you realize that most bike lane projects are either for show or to justify federal funding. Paint is cheaper than a design consultant.
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Old 09-15-17, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by elocs View Post
If cyclists choose to ride in the lane of traffic, then that defeats the entire purpose of the whole thing. And any adult cyclist should be able to ride their bike on 3 feet of smooth blacktop without having to go into the lane of traffic. The point of a bike line is for cyclists to have a more safe and separate space to ride, separate from traffic. And adults who have the ability to ride in traffic can do that anywhere and probably don't need a bike lane (that or look down their noses at them) but there are many young people and kids who do need that kind of safer space.

Three lane roads are designed to move motorized traffic, not bikes. The entire purpose of changing this stretch of road from 4 lanes to 3 was to be able to have a bike lane on each side. My point is that had they consulted with bike riders they might well have been told that the bike lanes could be wider and that the center turn lane could be narrower because this is not a busy street. When a city creates bike lanes and then it is observed that there are cyclists who choose not to use them and ride in traffic, does that encourage the city to create more bike lanes or not?
I wasn't endorsing the plan, nor dumping on it, except for the placement of bikes in the gutter, if that's what they did. I was simply responding to what seemed to be an objection to the three lane idea.
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Old 09-15-17, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Urban planners usually consult with cyclists, but there are cyclists and then there are cyclists.
Agreed. In my city there are no bike lanes on the busy city streets, ones with a 30 mph speed limit and the traffic goes 40 mph because the streets were narrow when they were once 2 lanes. To widen them most of the boulevard was taken and when the sidewalks were put back in they took up space from the front yards, sometimes putting them just 6 feet from the front doors. There is absolutely no place for a separate bike lane. What they are trying with this "road diet" is to create bike lanes by eliminating a former lane of traffic on a street that does not merit 4 lanes.

Here the bike lanes are on side streets that often parallel the busy streets. Ironically these side streets are wide to begin with, having room for cars to park on each side and as well room for cars to pass safely going the opposite ways. There are also MUPs that go from one end of the city to the other. And other than in the downtown area it is legal to ride on the sidewalks with exactly the same rules as riding with pedestrians on MUPs and having the same rights as pedestrians in the crosswalks. Cyclists who choose to ride in traffic on the busy streets are taking their safety for granted and placing their trust in every vehicle that passes them giving them enough room. For that reason, even though there are 50,000 people here with 2 universities and a tech college there are few cyclists who ride in traffic. And those who do ride in traffic are the minority of cyclists and really should not be ones who are consulted about the creation of bike lanes since they shun them anyways.
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Old 09-15-17, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I wasn't endorsing the plan, nor dumping on it, except for the placement of bikes in the gutter, if that's what they did. I was simply responding to what seemed to be an objection to the three lane idea.
The bike lanes were created from what was a lane of traffic and so there was only so much room and the bike lane had to incorporate the gutter which is clean but the sewer grates could capture a tire. The 3 feet of blacktop is plenty of room to ride a bike but there's not enough room in the lane of traffic to pass a bike and give them 3 feet without needing to go into the center lane. It's the center lane that did not need to be as wide, giving vehicles a little more room to safely pass bikes and still stay in their lane of traffic.
Today the middle turn lane is really an "in" thing to do even when it is not widely needed.
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Old 09-15-17, 06:25 PM
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My town's bike lanes are really asinine. Some of the neighborhoods have a few bike lanes inside the neighborhoods. The industrial/warehouse district also surprisingly has a couple bike lanes inside the district. But the problem is that all these bikes lanes are not connected to each other. In other words, if you live in one of the neighborhoods with bike lanes and work in the industrial area, you still have to get out on some of the busiest streets that have no bike lanes. What a waste of paint!
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Old 09-15-17, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by elocs View Post
The bike lanes were created from what was a lane of traffic and so there was only so much room and the bike lane had to incorporate the gutter which is clean but the sewer grates could capture a tire. The 3 feet of blacktop is plenty of room to ride a bike but there's not enough room in the lane of traffic to pass a bike and give them 3 feet without needing to go into the center lane. It's the center lane that did not need to be as wide, giving vehicles a little more room to safely pass bikes and still stay in their lane of traffic.
Today the middle turn lane is really an "in" thing to do even when it is not widely needed.
I don't have a dog in this fight. I commented based on your OP, saying the general idea might not be as bad as indicated, and that was the limit of my interest.

Like so many things, the devil is in the details, and I'm very happy to leave them to those with a stake.
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Old 09-15-17, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Hoopdriver View Post
I'm sure you realize that most bike lane projects are either for show or to justify federal funding. Paint is cheaper than a design consultant.
Here there are frequently citizens who give their input on projects, and this was a very minor one, but I wonder if they really measured this one out.
They intend to do this on another short stretch of a street that is 4 lanes but does not have the traffic to merit having 4 lanes in order to have a way to give school kids who want to ride their bikes to school a safer way to travel rather than riding in traffic. It is the only way into the city for this residential area crossing a bridge over a small river and there is only a sidewalk on one side of the street. So it has nothing to do with federal funding in this case.
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Old 09-15-17, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Urban planners usually consult with cyclists, but there are cyclists and then there are cyclists.
Well, like many things in a government, it depends on the department and their typical public engagement process.

In Boston, if the project is by MassDOT, or funded by them and run by the City, then there is a decently rubust public engagement process mandate by the Commonwealth. If the project is being done by Boston Transportation Department then there may be, especially if it isn't an election year and if it is then don't expect many bike projects at all (or anything that might cause a motorist to complain to the mayor). If the project is by the Boston Public Works Department (AKA the agent of the all powerful snowplow drivers lobby) then there will be no engagement whatsoever, unless someone leaks the plan and puts serious pressure on the Department and the Administration.

I hope that you live in a better city than Boston; where, if the trend continues, we will be ranked America's least bicycle friendly city, or so I expect. And I really hope that the Walsh Administration is reading this.
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Old 09-16-17, 07:18 AM
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My small city did the same thing a few years back -- converting four lanes into two lanes plus a center lane, plus some generously wide shoulders that are great for cycling. There are a surprising number of people who dislike the change and want to blast through town in four lanes instead. I would bet there are four feet at least in the paved shoulder, and at that point I really don't care whether cars veer over to give me three.

The three-lane approach is good for pedestrians too. It keeps the traffic further from the sidewalks. With four lanes you had school kids sometimes right up against the traffic lanes--because near the school there is no outlawn, and the sidewalk extends right up to the curb. The same is true elsewhere downtown -- sidewalk against the curb. I've been super happy with the three-lane approach. It makes the downtown area calmer and more pleasant to spend time in.
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Old 09-16-17, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
My small city did the same thing a few years back -- converting four lanes into two lanes plus a center lane, plus some generously wide shoulders that are great for cycling. There are a surprising number of people who dislike the change and want to blast through town in four lanes instead. I would bet there are four feet at least in the paved shoulder, and at that point I really don't care whether cars veer over to give me three.

The three-lane approach is good for pedestrians too. It keeps the traffic further from the sidewalks. With four lanes you had school kids sometimes right up against the traffic lanes--because near the school there is no outlawn, and the sidewalk extends right up to the curb. The same is true elsewhere downtown -- sidewalk against the curb. I've been super happy with the three-lane approach. It makes the downtown area calmer and more pleasant to spend time in.
The problem here is that the stretch of street that was given the "road diet" here was never widened to properly give it 4 lanes--again they just painted the lines. So that lane of traffic that was taken to create a bike lane on each side didn't leave a lot of room--no wider than the bike lanes on the side streets with little traffic, along with having a center turn lane.

The street where they want to do this to provide school kids a safe way to ride their bikes to school, the only access street into town going over a bridge on a small river, which has been in the plans and discusses with meetings for years is now getting an uproar by parents now that it is happening because they don't want their kids riding in the street even with a bike lane because it's just a painted line which is not exactly a force field to protect them. They do have a point because vehicles that have no problem driving over a white line won't casually drive over a curb. They've probably seen the Dutch way of doing it with a curb and a bike land and another curb and a sidewalk (a white line is not a force field to protect pedestrians from bikes either). That is nice but the Dutch have an entirely different philosophy and respect for bike riding than we do here.

Most of the busy streets here have the sidewalks up to the curb as well--really a sidewalk and a pseudo-boulevard of red brick because they were once 2 lanes and the land needed to widen them to 4 lanes had to come from somewhere. So these are unofficial bike lanes, MUPs, because here it is legal to ride bikes on the sidewalks and cyclists have the same rights in the crosswalks as do pedestrians.
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Old 09-16-17, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by elocs View Post
The street where they want to do this to provide school kids a safe way to ride their bikes to school, the only access street into town going over a bridge on a small river, which has been in the plans and discusses with meetings for years is now getting an uproar by parents now that it is happening because they don't want their kids riding in the street even with a bike lane because it's just a painted line which is not exactly a force field to protect them.
Love your force field comment . So true, and made me smile.

If a bridge is involved, then what's been done might be all that's feasible.

Honestly though, three feet of clear space plus the gutter too? That must leave what, at least four feet? I'd be thrilled with that amount.
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Old 09-16-17, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
Love your force field comment . So true, and made me smile.

If a bridge is involved, then what's been done might be all that's feasible.

Honestly though, three feet of clear space plus the gutter too? That must leave what, at least four feet? I'd be thrilled with that amount.
With kids riding their bikes, the "force field" works both ways because they do tend to meander whereas an older rider can stay within the confines of a bike lane. I think what the parents would like to see would be a sidewalk on the side of the street of the residential area because there is a sidewalk on the opposite side but the kids need to cross the street to get to it and then cross back again to go to their schools (a large elementary school and a middle school). But sidewalks cost money that was never in the budget and they're having a hard enough time just keeping the streets repaired.

The streets and gutters in my city don't have debris and glass and junk in them because they are regularly cleaned by the street sweepers. Ironically it's more likely to encounter glass on the sidewalks because I've noticed lately that there evidently are some people who are deliberately smashing glass where they know people are riding their bikes like in a bike/pedestrian tunnel under a busy highway.
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Old 09-16-17, 09:07 AM
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On doing a search I've found that my city is recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a silver level Bicycle Friendly Community and that it has an extensive and detailed bicycle and pedestrian master plan, so that is encouraging since its goal is to be a gold level city. I think one of the problems it has is with publicity as to improvements and a good and up to date map of the bike lanes, MUPs, and improvements.
For instance, a few years ago a MUP was completed that was 12 years in the making in obtaining right of ways. It is only about a mile and a half long but the crown jewel is that it includes a bridge over a railway yard with 8 tracks, making a connection that you would previously needed to travel over a mile to get to the same spot. It cost $3 million dollars to complete yet they are finding out there are still many people in the city who might use it but don't know it exists unless they live near it. I'm guessing there are some I don't even know about.
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Old 09-16-17, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Urban planners usually consult with cyclists, but there are cyclists and then there are cyclists.
Oh, give them the Texas truth; city projects are announced on the back of a take out menu taped behind the toilet in an abandoned laundromat, then all the city will say about the idiotic result is that "everyone was given the opportunity to comment, so it's not our fault that none of them bothered to show up to a 3PM weekday meeting."
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Old 09-16-17, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by KD5NRH View Post
Oh, give them the Texas truth; city projects are announced on the back of a take out menu taped behind the toilet in an abandoned laundromat, then all the city will say about the idiotic result is that "everyone was given the opportunity to comment, so it's not our fault that none of them bothered to show up to a 3PM weekday meeting."
Heh. True. And voted on in executive session.
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Old 09-16-17, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by elocs View Post
Do they even consult with actual cyclists about the bike lanes they intend to create?
My pet peeve. The vast majority of cycling "infrastructure" seems to be designed for purely recreational riders who ride slowly, only on trails, and are terrified of interacting with automobile traffic. It'd be nice if they designed them for actual commuters, experienced cyclists, and other riders with the confidence to function as traffic.

As an analogy, imagine if your state's DOT designed all roads for 15 yr old permit drivers an those over 70, and never made allowances for experienced drivers, professional drivers, commuters, delivery drivers, and the full range of people who use the public roads.

I'd like to see MUCH more use of BMUFL and educational campaigns.

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Old 09-16-17, 09:11 PM
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it's a better roadway

Fort Wayne In converted a major east/west four lane (though less than a mile) to a two with turn lane and bike lanes. But it wasn't done for bikes. That was incidental. The real benefit was slower moving, but greater volume traffic flow (no lane hopping for position and less "accordion effect") and the biggest benefit.... the accident rate dropped to less than half of the four lane rate. So overall I consider them a good thing, but one new problem is the number of people on foot (and electric wheelchairs!) who use the bike lanes in the winter after the street is plowed and the sidewalks are not cleared of snow.
Not my problem now. Retired to Tennessee.
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Old 09-16-17, 10:09 PM
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As far as bike paths, I think they need cyclists for both design engineers and field engineers. And then have the money to come back so if it isn't done right, scratch it and redo it.

If I was consulting for the city and they asked... do you want a bike path between A & B, I'd probably say it is a great idea, go do it. A couple of years later, they build it, and then one looks at it and tries to figure out what the heck they were thinking.

It isn't necessarily that the bike path itself was a bad idea, rather a poor implementation of the idea.

Storm sewers may be a problem in that car-friendly storm sewers (drain as much water as quickly as possible without plugging), and bike-friendly storm sewers (curb grates?) may not be the same.

Here is the entrance to a bike path that I found up in Portland.

It isn't that having a bike path was bad, just the implementation wasn't quite what one might otherwise expect.

BikePathStart.jpg

Also keep in mind that things like storm sewers might be a problem for road bikes, but not for one's average beach cruiser (although I would imagine train tracks could be a problem for all).

Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
As an analogy, imagine if your state's DOT designed all roads for 15 yr old permit drivers an those over 70, and never made allowances for experienced drivers, professional drivers, commuters, delivery drivers, and the full range of people who use the public roads.
Isn't that what they do?

Just imagine if the streets were designed for Formula 1 drivers

Take out all the traffic lights and put in yield signs. Remove all the speed limits.

Note, bike paths around here have very few markings. I'm amazed that there isn't more bike path carnage, but people seem to do well without stop signs, yield signs, lane markers, and etc, and with mixed use of pedestrians, children, and bicycles.
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Old 09-17-17, 06:04 AM
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As a retired highway engineer and a cyclist, I would say that engineers who design bike paths and lanes are fairly clueless. Generally, they use a standard manual for cycling design and if that doesn't apply, it's beyond me where they come up with some of their ideas.
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Old 09-18-17, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by elocs View Post
Do they even consult with actual cyclists about the bike lanes they intend to create?

In my city of 50,000 they have come up with something called a "road diet" where they took a street that for some unknown reason had 4 lanes but not the traffic to justify it and made it into 3 lanes--one in each direction with a middle left turn lane and then using the saved lane to create a bike lane on each side of the street. The bike lane is the concrete gutter and 3 feet of blacktop and then the painted, white bike lane line. Now if you stay out of the gutter (which is clean but the sewer grate could pull in your tire) and ride on the blacktop section, and vehicles must give you 3 feet clearance when they pass, then they must pull partway into the center turn lane to do it. Ironically in this 5 block stretch of street there is little need to turn left and without a center turn lane both lanes of traffic could be wider as well as the bike lanes. I think that had the engineers consulted some bike riders they could have discovered their bike lane design shortcomings. Their intentions were good and fortunately the only cost was for paint.
elocs,

I've often wondered that as well.

Where I live I have three bike lanes that serve no other purpose than to get cyclists "out of the way" of motorists. One is 16 blocks long, it goes nowhere, it connects to nothing ending about two blocks before a local park where the bike lane is replaced with sharrows. There is another that is only about 4 blocks long. It runs down a road that has a canal going down the middle. On one side it routes cyclists alongside of where the public bus system picks up and drops off passengers. Placing us in danger of being sideswiped by buses pulling away from the curb. On the other side it is a door zone BL. The last one is only about 10 blocks long, and again it doesn't go anywhere nor connect to anything, and on one side it is a DZBL. On two other roads we have a one-way road with a contraflow bike lane (it also has a bike lane where bicycle traffic follows the same direction as cars. Then when we get downtown it continues as a DZBL, and in another area downtown we have a two-way bike lane on one side of the road.

I am convinced that most of the bike lanes that we have, so that cities, counties, states can go to LAB and say, "see we have x-number of miles of bike lanes. So will you please make us a 'bicycle friendly' community?"

Personally I think that it is high time that if LAB isn't truly looking out for the needs of us cyclists that either they get a board in that will do so, if that cannot be done that it be done away with once and for all.

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Old 09-18-17, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
...

Just imagine if the streets were designed for Formula 1 drivers
If I was suggesting every road be turned into a race course, you'd have a point. However, the analogy I used was "As an analogy, imagine if your state's DOT designed all roads for 15 yr old permit drivers and those over 70, and never made allowances for experienced drivers, professional drivers, commuters, delivery drivers, and the full range of people who use the public roads."

As it is, DOTs consult with a full range of drivers and industries, ranging from professional drivers (trucks, busses, cabs,etc.) to every day commuters. I'd like to see them do that with cyclists and make the roads as suitable for someone riding 150-200 miles a week at 18-25 mph as they are to people who ride 5 miles a week at 5 mph. They don't seem to be doing that now.
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