Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Advocacy & Safety
Reload this Page >

Is this safe practice? Considerate?

Notices
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.

Is this safe practice? Considerate?

Old 02-25-10, 02:13 PM
  #1  
Austinnh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 62
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Is this safe practice? Considerate?

Hello, 1st post besides one in the introductions forum.

I'm a cycle commuter in Philly, and commute every day across the Walnut Street bridge (2 lanes 1 way). This bridge has a bike lane that I rarely use (I take the car lane). Here's why:

-There is often accumulated dirt, debris, and, at the moment, snow, in the bike lane.

-The lane is mostly populated by mountain bikes and upright commuters that I pass. This passing would necessitate frequent exit and re-entry of the car lane, a dangerous practice I think.

-The road surface is irregular and staying within the bike lane leaves me few options for maneuvering around the bumps and cracks.

-In a large section, there are parked cars to the right of the lane. I'm terrified of doors opening, cars pulling out of parking spots, and pedestrians popping out from between the cars headed for their own parked cars. This fear prevents me from riding as fast as I'd like to in the bike lane.

So taking the car lane seems to be the safest option.

There is usually little enough traffic that cars have no trouble passing me in the left lane. Until today, no drivers have complained by honking. Today for the first time I heard a car honk approaching me from behind, so I took the bike lane and the SUV passed. I finished my trip in the bike lane nervously watching the parked cars for signs of movement.

This got me wondering what you guys would think about this commuting practice of taking the car lane when there is a bike lane, so I registered.

Is this safe?

Is this considerate to car commuters?

Basically, do you think this is good practice, or should I be staying in the bike lane?

I honestly have no idea what the law has to say about it.

Thanks.
Austinnh is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 02:21 PM
  #2  
TRaffic Jammer
Dances With Cars
 
TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 10,527

Bikes: TBL Onyx Pro(ss converted), Pake SS (starting to look kinda pimped)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Even if I do ride the BL I'm practically riding the line. Our BL's here are usually found in door zones as well. If the BL isn't safe the nearest traffic lane will have to suffice, so sorry if the motorist doesn't agree but it's not his life now is it?
TRaffic Jammer is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 02:29 PM
  #3  
CommuterRun
Conservative Hippie
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wakulla Co. FL
Posts: 4,271
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Haven't ridden that route, but I would say that generally what you were doing is the safest that you can be for all the reasons you listed. Don't let one knot-head cager push you into a road position that you know is less safe.

Last edited by CommuterRun; 02-25-10 at 02:33 PM.
CommuterRun is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 02:31 PM
  #4  
hshearer
Senior Member
 
hshearer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Ontario
Posts: 513
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Many bike lanes are substandard and dangerous. I only use them if they're safe. MOST places don't require you to ride in the bike lane, but a few do. You should check your local laws so that you can be prepared in case you ever get any flack. Also, keep in mind that most motorists don't undersatnd why you aren't in the bike lane, which can make some of them more irritable than usual, since they assume you're a jerk trying to make a point at their expense. Just let it roll off. I don't let clueless people driving cars tell me how I should be riding my bike.

Take the lane. You're right to do it, it sounds like. There's room to pass you in the other lane, so you're not being inconsiderate. Your saftey trumps anyone else's convenience, anyways. Irritable people who honk at me certainly don't get special treatment. To me, honks mean "I see you", and that's it.

You should get a helmet mirror, though, if you don't have one already. That way the bike lane can be your safety net to dive into if anything bad comes up behind you.

Last edited by hshearer; 02-25-10 at 02:37 PM.
hshearer is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 02:42 PM
  #5  
Keith99
Senior Member
 
Keith99's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,866
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Sounds like your practices are fine. To me when I'm driving it does not bother me if a bike is in the 'car' lan. It does bother me if a bike is there and the rider is barely pedaling (excluding downhills). To me it sounds like yuo are making a decent pace.

It also sounds like the time when yuo are riding works out well, little traffic, but enough that drivers are somewhat alert. Be carefull if the road is totally empty, that is when some drivers do not pay attention. If you are there when it is busier then pay attention and be sure cars are not backing up behind you (esp. if it is somewhere where the bike lane is clear).

Again I think you are fine.
Keith99 is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 03:17 PM
  #6  
Austinnh
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 62
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by hshearer
You should check your local laws so that you can be prepared in case you ever get any flack.
Just looked, Here's what I find in Philly laws.

12-804. Riding on Roadways and Bicycle Paths.

(1) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride other than single file except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

(2) Whenever a useable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.
This seems against me, unless my safety concerns mean that the bike lane is not "useable."

Pennsylvania law seems more lenient.

Section 3505.
(a) General rule. -- Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), every person operating a pedalcycle upon a highway shall obey the applicable rules of the road as contained in this title.

Comment: This statement reiterates the necessity for cyclists to conform to the expectations of other road users in order to ensure the safety of all.

(b) Operation on shoulder. -- A pedalcycle may be operated on the shoulder of a highway and shall be operated in the same direction as required of vehicles operated on the roadway.

Comment: A bicycle may be operated on either a shoulder or on the roadway (the travel lanes). The locations will be based upon traffic volume, the physical condition of the travel lanes or the shoulder, traffic speed, the bicyclist's intended direction, and other safety factors.
Austinnh is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 03:58 PM
  #7  
DX-MAN
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,788
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I won't make a blanket statement, but most of the bike/traffic laws I've researched all have the caveat about safety and useability. It's the loophole we can use to keep ourselves safer.

OP, the only thing I would have done different than you would have been to move back out into the car lane after the SUV went by. Otherwise, you were a textbook example of a courteous and lawful cyclist!
DX-MAN is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 04:13 PM
  #8  
I-Like-To-Bike
Been Around Awhile
 
I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Burlington Iowa
Posts: 29,601

Bikes: Vaterland and Ragazzi

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Liked 1,273 Times in 866 Posts
Originally Posted by Austinnh
Just looked, Here's what I find in Philly laws.

"(2) Whenever a useable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway. "

This seems against me, unless my safety concerns mean that the bike lane is not "useable."

Pennsylvania law seems more lenient.
Do not be confused. A bike lane on Walnut Street is NOT a "useable path for bicycles adjacent to a roadway "; it is a bike lane. This law would apply to the the bike paths adjacent to the East and West River Drives (or whatever the PC names are for the Drives).
I-Like-To-Bike is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 05:04 PM
  #9  
GriddleCakes
Tawp Dawg
 
GriddleCakes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Anchorage, AK
Posts: 1,221

Bikes: '06 Surly Pugsley, '14 Surly Straggler, '88 Kuwahara Xtracycle, '10 Motobecane Outcast 29er, '?? Surly Cross Check (wife's), '00 Trek 4500 (wife's), '12 Windsor Oxford 3-speed (dogs')

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The law is not always looking out for your safety. What you're doing is hands down the safest manner to ride in that situation, avoiding weaving in and out of a bike lane to pass and riding clear of the door zone. Are Philly cops heavily into enforcing bike laws? If they're anything like Anchorage cops, the chances of you getting a ticket are next to nil. And regardless, which would you rather get: a ticket, or a door prize?
GriddleCakes is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 05:10 PM
  #10  
mikeybikes
Senior Member
 
mikeybikes's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Edgewater, CO
Posts: 3,214

Bikes: Tons

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Do not be confused. A bike lane on Walnut Street is NOT a "useable path for bicycles adjacent to a roadway "; it is a bike lane. This law would apply to the the bike paths adjacent to the East and West River Drives (or whatever the PC names are for the Drives).
I agree with this.

Denver had a mandatory adjacent sidepath law. When I inquired about it, it only referred to paths and not bike lanes. They've since repealed that law.
mikeybikes is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 06:42 PM
  #11  
CB HI
Cycle Year Round
 
CB HI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 13,644
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1316 Post(s)
Liked 92 Times in 59 Posts
Austinnh,

You did everything right up until you moved into the bike lane just because some idiot SUV driver honked their horn.

You have now learned the law. Carry a copy of it with you and use it to your advantage for your safety.
CB HI is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 07:24 PM
  #12  
dobber
Perineal Pressurized
 
dobber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: In Ebritated
Posts: 6,555
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by CB HI
Austinnh,

You did everything right up until you moved into the bike lane just because some idiot SUV driver honked their horn.
Why assume the SUV was honking in annoyance? Maybe he gave a brief tap to let him know he was approaching or overtaking, I flash my high-beams when passing cars.
__________________
This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.
dobber is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 09:35 PM
  #13  
gcottay
Senior Member
 
gcottay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Green Valley AZ
Posts: 3,770

Bikes: Trice Q; Volae Century; TT 3.4

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Aside from being thrown off stride by a horn, I think you have made a reasonable choice. Riding far left in the bike lane and dealing with the debris, pot holes and slow traffic might be a bit safer but does not seem any fun.
gcottay is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 09:56 PM
  #14  
noisebeam
Arizona Dessert
 
noisebeam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: AZ
Posts: 15,030

Bikes: Cannondale SuperSix, Lemond Poprad. Retired: Jamis Sputnik, Centurion LeMans Fixed, Diamond Back ascent ex

Mentioned: 76 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5343 Post(s)
Liked 2,165 Times in 1,287 Posts
Definitely use as much of or as far left in the outside shared lane (don't call it a 'car lane', it is not only for cars) as you need to be safe to avoid being squeezed or closed passed in that lane. Driving far right in the shared lane (such as along the bike lane stripe) may be worse as other drivers will still try to pass and pass you closely. Being so close or partly in the bike lane as they approach from distance they may think of you as out of their way until they are too close to merge left.

The law you noted was about adjacent paths. The bike lane is part of the roadway, not an adjacent path.

Don't compromise your safety whether it is doors that may open, potholes or unpredictable/ambiguous position that will result in close passes.

If you use a mirror you can merge right if and when there are no other safety issues for a long stretch ahead to let faster vehicles pass. Be sure to leave enough time/space to merge back predictably well before any potential hazards.
noisebeam is offline  
Old 02-25-10, 10:20 PM
  #15  
MTBLover
But on the road more
 
MTBLover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 864

Bikes: Bianchi Volpe '07

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Austin-
Welcome to the BF! I ride Walnut St. regularly, and usually ride the line or inside the lane. Like you, I feel that the bike lane is too narrow to be safe, especially given the very real probability of being doored and of course, the blinking idiots who ride the wrong way down the bike lane. That said, Walnut between 23rd and 42nd (at least) is a gamble. Between the speeders from the bridge to 33rd, to the double parkers between 34th and 38th, the "hookers" (both left and right) at 38th, and the congestion at 40th, it's a mess. Definitely not one of my favorite routes.
I don't commute on Walnut, but I can appreciate the hassle you put up with every day, for sure. Look on the bright side- the South Street bridge is coming along, and it's going to be a huge improvement over the old one and Walnut for sure.

Good luck!
MTBLover is offline  
Old 02-26-10, 08:21 AM
  #16  
High Roller
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mentioned: Post(s)
Tagged: Thread(s)
Quoted: Post(s)
Austin,

You have accurately described some of the unsafe and inefficient conditions that bike lanes can impose on cyclists.

My city (not my state) has a mandatory bike lane/bike path ordinance, but like many other traffic rules that apply to cyclists, it does not seem to be regularly enforced. I wear a pair of magic glasses that make bike lane paint disappear. Then I simply take a road position that is the best compromise between my safety and others' convenience. When I occasionally look over the top of my magic glasses, I see that sometimes that road position is in the bike lane, and sometimes it is not.
 
Old 02-26-10, 09:14 AM
  #17  
RazrSkutr
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 922
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by CB HI
Austinnh,

You did everything right up until you moved into the bike lane just because some idiot SUV driver honked their horn.

You have now learned the law. Carry a copy of it with you and use it to your advantage for your safety.
If the OP could see that the lane was safe and clear of debris to allow him to briefly duck in to allow the SUV to pass then it wasn't necessarily a bad decision. If, on the other hand, it was a panicked response then it might have been. Why ignore a honk if it's safe to let another road user pass?
RazrSkutr is offline  
Old 02-26-10, 10:08 AM
  #18  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 28,930

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint, GT Timberline 29r, Marin Muirwoods 29er, Trek FX Alpha 7.0

Mentioned: 109 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5027 Post(s)
Liked 3,227 Times in 2,127 Posts
I'm glad I don't have to deal with a bike lane. while they seem like a good idea, they are not. they are too limiting. your life is more important than the law.

hopefully the bike lane will get cleaned up. you might consider calling town hall and the cops and explain what's going on. you have a leagl right to use your bike but the bike lane is unusable. someone needs to be told.
rumrunn6 is offline  
Old 02-26-10, 10:17 AM
  #19  
mikeybikes
Senior Member
 
mikeybikes's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Edgewater, CO
Posts: 3,214

Bikes: Tons

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by rumrunn6
I'm glad I don't have to deal with a bike lane. while they seem like a good idea, they are not. they are too limiting. your life is more important than the law.
Bike lines are a great idea when used properly and maintained properly.

What is wrong is the often times the misconception, and sometimes the law, that bike lanes are mandatory.

I have no problems with bike lanes and ride in them frequently. I will however leave the bike lane if it becomes unsafe to use, I'm passing someone, or I'm making a left turn. I've only had one instance where it pissed off a motorist.
mikeybikes is offline  
Old 02-26-10, 01:31 PM
  #20  
Digital_Cowboy
Senior Member
 
Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Tampa/St. Pete, Florida
Posts: 9,352

Bikes: Specialized Hardrock Mountain (Stolen); Giant Seek 2 (Stolen); Diamondback Ascent mid 1980 - 1997

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 62 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
First does Philly have any laws that require you to remain in the bike lane if one is present? If not then it is or should be legal for you to take the lane, particularly if you are traveling faster then the other traffic in the bike lane. Also given the surface hazards that you noted that are usually in the bike lane that should also strengthen your position for taking the lane instead of riding in the bike lane.

That up to this point no other drivers had had a problem with your actions I would say that it wasn't a problem, except to this one driver as I presume that you travel the same route at about the same time just about everyday and the motorists are used to seeing you there.

Your concerns are legitimate, and as has been said before we are the one's who get to decide if the conditions to the right or in the bike lane are safe for us. You could/should have done as you did pulling over into the bike lane and then once the SUV passed moved back into the travel lane.

When a friend of mine and me ride together he'll ride in the bike lane, and I'll ride in the travel lane so that we can talk. And so far we have had no problems with motorists with this arrangement. As checking my mirrors, if I see a car coming up behind us I'll either speed up and pull ahead of my friend or slow down and drop in behind him. And then once the car passes move back to where I had been.
Digital_Cowboy is offline  
Old 02-26-10, 06:30 PM
  #21  
CB HI
Cycle Year Round
 
CB HI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 13,644
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1316 Post(s)
Liked 92 Times in 59 Posts
Originally Posted by Austinnh
Walnut Street bridge (2 lanes 1 way).
Originally Posted by RazrSkutr
If the OP could see that the lane was safe and clear of debris to allow him to briefly duck in to allow the SUV to pass then it wasn't necessarily a bad decision. If, on the other hand, it was a panicked response then it might have been. Why ignore a honk if it's safe to let another road user pass?
The SUV driver had an entire passing lane to pass without the OP moving into the bike lane.
CB HI is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
big chainring
Advocacy & Safety
93
10-20-16 02:19 PM
corrado33
Advocacy & Safety
5
10-22-14 11:05 AM
vol
Advocacy & Safety
12
12-09-12 01:25 AM
r_kangaroo
Commuting
42
08-06-11 12:43 PM
chico1st
Commuting
12
03-19-11 08:08 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.