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Do bike lanes cause motorists to look for cyclists?

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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.
View Poll Results: Do you believe bike lanes cause motorists to look for and notice cyclists?
Yes, when there are BLs, motorists are much more likely to look for and notice cyclists.
10.96%
Yes, with BLs, motorists probably are at least a bit more likely to look for and notice cyclists.
30.14%
Yes, but to the extent that bike lanes might improve cyclist awareness, I doubt it's significant.
8.22%
No, the effect of BLs on motorist awareness of cyclists is negligible.
27.40%
No. The BL stripe probably allows motorists to be less aware of cyclists.
19.18%
None of the above/Other (please clarify in post)
4.11%
Voters: 73. You may not vote on this poll

Do bike lanes cause motorists to look for cyclists?

Old 08-21-06, 12:22 PM
  #1  
Helmet Head
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Do bike lanes cause motorists to look for cyclists?

Do you believe bike lanes cause motorists to be more likely to look for cyclists to any significant degree?

Edit: What prompted this poll was the following assertion that was made in a post in another thread.

Originally Posted by Bekologist
if there was a bike lane, the driver would have been MORE likely to look for a bicyclist ...

Last edited by Helmet Head; 08-21-06 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 08-21-06, 12:49 PM
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I voted other, mainly because upon thinking about it I decided it depends a lot on the specifics. Just a line by the side of the road generally does very little. Those lanes where the lines change from solid to dashed at intersections and move the cyclist away from the curb draw my attention as a driver and I think it does so for others.

I also find those in remote open areas may have some use. I'm thinking of country back roads where there is little traffic and also few distractions. Here just a line with pictures of bikes may alert a significant number of drivers. Not all mind you, the jerks will still be jerks, but basic decent people who might otherwise never thought that a bike might be there get some warning. That may be most significant where there is a combination of open areas and more twisty areas. It may only provide a split secons or a couple of MPH in those almost blind corners, but either of those can be the difference between a close call and an accident.

In city on busy streets where the pictures of bikes end up under parked cars I doubt bike lanes make any difference at all.
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Old 08-21-06, 12:53 PM
  #3  
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NO. This is kind of a silly question. A line on the road isn't going to make a driver see a cyclist any better. But bike lanes do give cyclists a place to ride apart from cars, which makes it less likely that they'll be struck by a car. However, as we've seen, it still happens.
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Old 08-21-06, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Do you believe bike lanes cause motorists to be more likely to look for cyclists to any significant degree?
Wrong question.

Do bike lanes separate bicycles from larger, faster vehicles traveling the same road?

That's the real question, but you probably knew that.
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Old 08-21-06, 01:14 PM
  #5  
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I live in a suburb of Atlanta. Declared the worst place to ride a bike, but also the place with the friendliest drivers. It's an odd mix. Only about 3 or 4 miles of my daily route has a bike lane, but the drivers seem to pay attention to it. Entering the turning lanes at the dashed lines, riding futher away from the shoulder. On the parts without a bike lane they ride closer to the edge and seems to resent me more. Although, 90%+ of them will drive into the other lane to give me room.

I just wish there wasn't so much crap in the bike lane. Let's pick one day a week and have the cars drive ONLY in the bike lane. That should sweep out a bunch of the debris.
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Old 08-21-06, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by oilfreeandhappy
NO. This is kind of a silly question. A line on the road isn't going to make a driver see a cyclist any better. But bike lanes do give cyclists a place to ride apart from cars, which makes it less likely that they'll be struck by a car. However, as we've seen, it still happens.
Originally Posted by Blue Order
Wrong question
See Edit in OP for explanation of why I asked this question.

Oilfree - Yes, bike lanes do give cyclists a place to ride apart from cars that are going in the same direction. As intuitively obvious as it may seem, there is no evidence that doing so makes them less likely to be hit by cars that are going in the same direction. We can only speculate as to why, for no study has explained it. My personal belief is that all motorists look ahead and check their path enough to notice a cyclist in front of them, and, if anything, riding to the right of a stripe makes a motorist less likely to consciously notice the cyclist, and, therefore, more likely to inadvertently drift into the cyclist, or pass him and turn right in front of him.

In any case, a cyclist hit from behind in broad daylight between intersections is a very rare type of collision.

The vast majority of car-bike collisions are at intersections, and do not involve a same-direction vehicle, or involves a right hook. In all those cases (crash with crossing traffic, or with same-direction right hook), riding too far to the right, as guided to do by most bike lanes, is more likely to be a factor causing the crash, than a preventative.
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Old 08-21-06, 01:49 PM
  #7  
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I figure if the BL has all them cute little bicycle symbols painted in it, then of course it might cause a light bulb to go on in the heads of some drivers that there may be wabbits...errr...bikes afoot.
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Old 08-21-06, 02:04 PM
  #8  
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here's a pic similar to the roadway being discussed in the other thread....the context was a bicyclist complaining about getting merged into from the right turn lane by a car while the bike was travelling in the center thru lane.....so, YES, WITHOUT A DOUBT,

this type of velotransit accomodation, with a lane specifically noted as a bike lane, with signage stating 'cars yield to bikes' , compared to NO specific velo accomodations, would make it more likely a bicyclist would be

a)looked for, and

b)cognified as a bicyclist in the road.

ABSOLUTELY YES. WITHOUT A DOUBT.
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Old 08-21-06, 02:27 PM
  #9  
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I voted the second option, "at least a bit more likely", but I have caveats:

(1) I think that the extent to which BL's are effective at increasing driver awareness (sticking just to the question at hand) varies by geography, probably mostly in proportion to how many of them there are. We don't have very many around here, so in my experience as a car driver, I tend to notice them where they do exist. I can imagine (but haven't experienced) that in other areas where they are more plentiful, it is more common for drivers to filter them out after a while.

(2) This advantage (and others they may have) must still be weighed against some of the possible disadvantages which we have all seen debated in other threads on this board (which I see no need to get into on this one).
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Old 08-21-06, 02:39 PM
  #10  
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For the specific site show in the picture, a bike lane should result in motorists allowing cyclists more consideration on the road, provided, of course, the motorists actually read the signs.

In my area, bike lanes are rare, well done, well maintained bike lanes rarer still. I have a higher rate of close passes by motorists when I am riding in the bike lanes here than when I am riding 'open' roads. Having said that, I will admit that I am often riding in the left, or outer part of the bike lane due to drain gratings, gravel, glass, and other trash swept there from the motor lanes.

Motorists will look where they expect to see traffic, where they perceive sources of potential conflicts to be. If that includes the bike lane, then lanes help cyclists on the road.
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Old 08-21-06, 03:02 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Edit: What prompted this poll was the following assertion that was made in a post in another thread.
Are your sure it was'nt PCD (Poll compulsive disorder)?
Seriously, this is about the 100th poll i've seen made by you...
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Old 08-21-06, 07:46 PM
  #12  
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Anyone who said yes has obviously never biked in NYC. I have considerably more close calls when there is a bike lane that I am forced to stay in. Cars see the empty space as a) somewhere to double park or b) an empty turn lane.

Cars notice bikes more when the bikes are a part of traffic, not "seperated" from it by a painted line on the pavement.
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Old 08-22-06, 03:36 PM
  #13  
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I would like to enter two answers to this question, both 2 and 5 because they are in a sense both valid. Really the answer depends very much on the mentality of the driver and environment to which they are used to.

I've opted for number two because as a European the context of driving is very different to that in North America. Most importantly this is because of the onus on drivers to pay attention to their surroudings and to react accordingly rather than to act oblivious until instructed otherwise.

A european bike lane, particularly in the UK, is a deliniation that is habitually observered, even when not obligatory, where conditions do not demand otherwise. Furthermore it is often radically different in appearance to the rest of the roadway and adheres to the principles of communication beyond the concious. Given the culture of driving here it is evident that bike lanes are a useful and practical tool in civic and road design and a measure worth investing in.

Alas HH has some merit in his objection to bike lanes as a measure before proper education of cyclists in road behaviour and usage in North America. This is something that will undoubtedly last until North America univerally adopts a principal of teaching drivers to be aware and make cognitive reactions to conditions instead of informing on mechanical necessity and requiring obedience of poorly thought out but continuous instruction.
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Old 08-22-06, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by gwhalin
Anyone who said yes has obviously never biked in NYC. I have considerably more close calls when there is a bike lane that I am forced to stay in. Cars see the empty space as a) somewhere to double park or b) an empty turn lane.

Cars notice bikes more when the bikes are a part of traffic, not "seperated" from it by a painted line on the pavement.
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Old 08-22-06, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
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Old 08-22-06, 04:07 PM
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I live in boston, I recently was in the car with my girlfriend and pointed out to her that she was driving in the bike lane, as were all of the cars in front of her and several behind her. her comment (oh wow, bikes get their own lanes? that must be new.) This is the same road she has driven for close to 2 years, with the same bike lane. When I asked several of her friends (most of mine ride bikes), none of them realized that any of the roads i mentioned had bike lanes, they just thought of bike lanes as space for parked cars to open their doors (what!) and assumed that bikes rode with traffic. I was amazed and since then have not ridden in any bike lanes (in fact I avoid riding my bike in boston in general, insane drivers, bus works for me.)
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Old 08-22-06, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by zaphodbeeblebro
I live in boston, I recently was in the car with my girlfriend and pointed out to her that she was driving in the bike lane, as were all of the cars in front of her and several behind her. her comment (oh wow, bikes get their own lanes? that must be new.) This is the same road she has driven for close to 2 years, with the same bike lane. When I asked several of her friends (most of mine ride bikes), none of them realized that any of the roads i mentioned had bike lanes, they just thought of bike lanes as space for parked cars to open their doors (what!) and assumed that bikes rode with traffic. I was amazed and since then have not ridden in any bike lanes (in fact I avoid riding my bike in boston in general, insane drivers, bus works for me.)


Oh wow, bikes get their own lanes?. Exactly. Unless you take a person like this and explicitly point out this fact like you did, they are going to remain oblivious to it, because it is of no relevance to them.
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Old 08-22-06, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head


Oh wow, bikes get their own lanes?. Exactly. Unless you take a person like this and explicitly point out this fact like you did, they are going to remain oblivious to it, because it is of no relevance to them.
Traffic regulations are of no relevance to motorists? That's an interesting assertion....
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Old 08-22-06, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Blue Order
Traffic regulations are of no relevance to motorists? That's an interesting assertion....
Interesting?

There should be nothing interesting or surprising about the assertion that some traffic regulations are of no relevance to some motorists.

Of course, the assertion that all traffic regulations are of no relevance to motorists would be patently absurd.
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Old 08-22-06, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Interesting?

There should be nothing interesting or surprising about the assertion that some traffic regulations are of no relevance to some motorists.

Of course, the assertion that all traffic regulations are of no relevance to motorists would be patently absurd.
Any traffic regulation that applies to a motorist is, by definition, of relevance to that motorist. And likewise, any traffic regulation that does not apply to that motorist, and does not otherwise affect that motorist, is by definition, of no relevance to that motorist.

Because bike lane regulations apply to motorists, they are of relevance to motorists.

To assert that relevance to the motorist is based on what the motorist is personally interested in is patently absurd.
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Old 08-22-06, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Blue Order
Any traffic regulation that applies to a motorist is, by definition, of relevance to that motorist. And likewise, any traffic regulation that does not apply to that motorist, and does not otherwise affect that motorist, is by definition, of no relevance to that motorist.

Because bike lane regulations apply to motorists, they are of relevance to motorists.

To assert that relevance to the motorist is based on what the motorist is personally interested in is patently absurd.
I'm sorry, but I cycle in the real world, not in the ideal world. How about you?

In the ideal world, yes, all traffic regulations would be relevant to all motorists.

However, in the real world where I cycle, the reality is that many motorists are oblivious to many regulations: to them, some (many? most?) regulations are not relevant. That's the reality, BO. I'm sorry to disappoint you.
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Old 08-22-06, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
I'm sorry, but I cycle in the real world, not in the ideal world. How about you?

In the ideal world, yes, all traffic regulations would be relevant to all motorists.

However, in the real world where I cycle, the reality is that many motorists are oblivious to many regulations: to them, some (many? most?) regulations are not relevant. That's the reality, BO. I'm sorry to disappoint you.
Nonsense, no matter how many times repeated, is still nonsense.

You are equating what these drivers are personally interested in with what is relevant to them. They are not the same thing. If a traffic regulation, such as the requirement not to drive in the bike lane, applies to a motorist, that traffic regulation is relevant to that motorist, regardless of whether or not that motorist cares-- or even knows about-- that regulation. They may be oblivious to a regulation, but that regulation still applies to them, and thus, is relevant.
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Old 08-22-06, 05:27 PM
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Fine BO, when I originally wrote "because it is of no relevance to them" I should have written "because they do not perceive it to be relevant to them". Looking back at #17, I would think that clarification would not be required, but whatever, here it is:

Unless you take a person like this and explicitly point out this fact like you did, they are going to remain oblivious to it, because they do not perceive it to be relevant to them.
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Old 08-22-06, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Fine BO, when I originally wrote "because it is of no relevance to them" I should have written "because they do not perceive it to be relevant to them". Looking back at #17, I would think that clarification would not be required, but whatever, here it is:

Unless you take a person like this and explicitly point out this fact like you did, they are going to remain oblivious to it, because they do not perceive it to be relevant to them.
I understand that. However, the possibility that a motorist might not perceive the relevance of the law is of no relevance to the law. As I'm sure you've heard, ignorance of the law is no excuse. It's because the law doesn't care about what each of us personally perceives-- the statutes are in effect, and we are required to know them, and presumed to know them when we undertake to operate a vehicle. Whether we actually do know them or actually do care about them is of no relevance to the court.
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Old 08-22-06, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Blue Order
However, the possibility that a motorist might not perceive the relevance of the law is of no relevance to the law.
I don't disagree, but the motorist's perception of the relevance of the law is all that matters to me in the context of figuring out whether bike lanes help or hinder the noticing of cyclists by motorists.
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