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Why Road Planners Oppose Using Parking as Protected Bike Paths

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Why Road Planners Oppose Using Parking as Protected Bike Paths

Old 10-03-22, 11:05 AM
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kyplaskon
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Why Road Planners Oppose Using Parking as Protected Bike Paths

What do you think of this logic as a reason for not installing protected bike paths using parked cars?: Drivers need the bike path between their parked cars and the traffic so that they can open their car doors safely and not worry about vehicle traffic. Moving the bike path might make drivers feel unsafe and they will complain.

How should advocates respond to this logic?

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Old 10-03-22, 11:19 AM
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UniChris
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Originally Posted by kyplaskon View Post
What do you think of this logic as a reason for not installing protected bike paths using parked cars?
You mean the fact that it makes a terrible and dangerous cycling experience chock full of designed-in conflict?

Consider the problems:
  • it forces you to position cyclists in a dangerously wrong place at each intersection - the basic fact of design is that those wishing to proceed through the intersection need to be on the passing side of those who want to turn there, not trapped where they'll be "hooked" by those turns.
  • when you forcibly segregate the flows with barriers rather than softly deconflict them with shoulder space, it encourages drivers and cyclists to ignore each other as irrelevant - but every intersection requires that they be extremely aware of each other, so this is a recipe for causing collisions
  • using parked cars as the barrier is even worse than other sorts of barriers, because the cars are a visual barrier that makes it so that even the small minority of cyclists and drivers who actually understand how important it is to be aware of each other can't adequately see each other because of the obstructing parked cars
  • The more "protected" the bike lane, the more likely pedestrians are to chose it as a place to walk - and there is zero political will to enforce bike lanes against pedestrians.
  • The alleged e-bikes that are actually motorcycles which increasingly dominate two wheeled urban traffic (plus some actual traditional motorcycles) then take all the existing failures of this design and magnify them even more
If you look at places where this has been tried, and just stand there on the sidewalk and watch for a bit, you'll discover that every few minutes you can witness a screaming match between a cyclist trying to be through traffic in the wrong place, and a driver trying to use a turning lane the way turning lanes are designed to be used: this design does not work.

In reality, the only halfway viable argument in justification for physical barriers that dangerously trap cyclists in the wrong place is that they prevent illegal parking in the bike lane - but it turns out that drivers are inventive enough to park even in bike lanes shielded by concrete barriers. And the number one offenders for parking there, are the police themselves. A car parked in a "protected" bike lane is orders of magnitude worse than one parked on a shoulder or painted lane, since you can't just go around it by making an ordinary traffic-aware lane change.

If you want to see what an absurd failure this design is, go visit New York City, stake out an intersection (try 2nd ave in the upper 40's) and watch what happens.

Or go on youtube, and watch what antisocial maniacs it turns those who try to ride them into (and it's the cyclists who have been turned into antisocial maniacs by this designed in conflict who are the ones posting the videos)

It was a clever idea in the abstract, but when you try it in the real world it does not work.

Last edited by UniChris; 10-03-22 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 10-03-22, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by kyplaskon View Post
What do you think of this logic as a reason for not installing protected bike paths using parked cars?: Drivers need the bike path between their parked cars and the traffic so that they can open their car doors safely and not worry about vehicle traffic. Moving the bike path might make drivers feel unsafe and they will complain.

How should advocates respond to this logic?

From the city where bicycling is one of the safest in the world:

https://nornagon.medium.com/the-copenhagen-bike-lane-bb89fa60c602


https://www.transportation-planning.com/blog/euro-trip-2017-part-2-the-grey-bike-lanes-of-copenhagen-denmark

Last edited by Daniel4; 10-03-22 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 10-04-22, 04:28 AM
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Silver bullets and free lunches are rare. There are always trade offs.

I have had some experience with parking protected bike lane in a central business district. My observations:

1. Regardless of which side, do not paint door zone bike lanes. The photo in the OP is acceptable. This means that the lateral ROW required is the same or more than a traffic-side non-door zone bike lane.
2. Do not allow parking near any intersection or curb cut. 2-3 car length space is needed for visibility. The result is often very limited parking.

When there was traffic I used the bike lane and operated relatively slowly because a) pedestrians could appear from between parked cars and b) the designers didnít allow visibility gap for curb cuts between intersections.

In off hours I took the traffic lane so I could move faster.

Properly executed in CBD context I donít care one way or the other.

To answer OP, those particular road planners have decided they donít want to install curb-side bike lanes. Perhaps local conditions are such that the logic is true. They may have been talked to by some influential motorists.

Last edited by flangehead; 10-04-22 at 04:46 AM.
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Old 10-04-22, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by kyplaskon View Post
How should advocates respond to this logic?
  • The new buffer created between the row of parked vehicles creates a safe zone for passengers to disembark. If there are trees or bushes lining the sidewalk right now that doors usually get hung up in, use that as a point in favor of the parking protection too.
  • Doors of lower vehicles won't scrape on the raised curb as they would if they were side-by-side with the curb.
  • Passengers will have an easier time of egress and ingress due to the lower ground height from the lack of a curb.
  • The narrower street reduces dangers for drivers and passengers exiting on the left side if the narrowing of the street is classified as a road diet (e.g., the road diet should be slowing drivers down, thus making it safer).
  • The bicycle lane won't be placed directly in the door zone, which creates safety issues for drivers and riders.
  • The bicycle lane won't forever be criss-crossed by drivers.
  • There's a good chance that national organizations and many influential US bicycle advocates may praise the city for the parking protected design.
  • Is there a school nearby? Would the protection create a link that would allow families to ride to school if it were protected?
I would also greatly recommend that you access your local or state crash database, or get someone who can do so for you. Also rider counts. If your city has a door-zone bike lane at present, you may be able to get the # of crashes or incidents that have happened on that particular lane vs. a (properly-designed) parking-protected bike lane from other cities with similar rider counts.

You should also make it clear that the engineers must protect/delineate the bike lane at intersections as well and not just daylight the corners with paint. Pretty sure the MUTCD stands in the way of an actual safe setback. so you may have to sell the engineers on a protected intersection design which will do the same thing - anything to keep the bike lane inboard of whatever curb bulbout they intend to design.

I'd also ask for a specific engineering example why they claim it's not doable. Is the objection actually supported by the standards used by your local public works or state DOT, or is the engineering argument against the design truly unfounded? At some point, you might discover that the objection is more a bias of the engineers' personal preferences and not really backed up by any standard. Could be used to put the professionalism of the engineers in question, but I've yet to try that in practice, so YMMV.

It's always helpful to bring up this image too if they try to bias facility design based on the "strong and fearless" demographic using it at present, not the potential # of users who would use it if protected:



-Kurt
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Last edited by cudak888; 10-04-22 at 12:34 PM.
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