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Narrower lanes are better?

Old 10-08-14, 09:45 AM
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VTBike
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Narrower lanes are better?

An interesting article on reducing lane width from twelve feet to ten feet:
Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now - CityLab
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Old 10-08-14, 10:26 AM
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As someone who traveled that roadóbiked that forsaken area for a few years, I agree with everything written.
That mindset is big in southern states. SC is a state that is putting in more and more of that type of roadage. Anywhere that has that type of build-out has a lot of fatals for vulnerable users.
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Old 10-08-14, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by VTBike View Post
An interesting article on reducing lane width from twelve feet to ten feet:
Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now - CityLab
I read at least 15 paragraphs into the article and gave up trying to find a single word written about why 12-foot lanes are disastrous for safety and must be replaced. Does the article ever provide a reason?
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Old 10-08-14, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I read at least 15 paragraphs into the article and gave up trying to find a single word written about why 12-foot lanes are disastrous for safety and must be replaced. Does the article ever provide a reason?
Yes. The paragraph beginning with this sentence starts the author's discussion of his reasons:

"They [those who argue in favor of 12 ft lane width] are wrong because of a fundamental error that underlies the practice of traffic engineering—and many other disciplines—an outright refusal to acknowledge that human behavior is impacted by its environment. "
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Old 10-08-14, 11:16 AM
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I actually rode those roads. There are looooong straigt-a-ways that cars go 50+ in between the zillions of signals. Way too fast for the cars that are pulling into the roadway from parking lots or leaving the roadway to enter those never-ending stripmall parking lots. Add lots of the angriest and most impatient drivers in the country in the mix, and they are just bad roads, overall. That's just one of the faults, there are a whole bunch more that I wont bore with until later.
For me, to come from Vermont, which was the most cycle-friendly place I've ever lived, into the chaos/anarchy of S. Floridastan, was the biggest, worst culture shock I've suffered since going into high school in 1973
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Old 10-08-14, 12:00 PM
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That was a nice article on the fallacy of wide lanes. Unfortunately, it didn't deal much with the impact of dropping lane widths to ten feet for cyclists other than the one example where there were so many lanes on the roadway that dropping them from twelve to ten feet created the space for protected bike lanes on each side of the road.

Where most of us are riding, the roads aren't nine lanes across. However, I feel that ten foot lanes do increase our safety on the typical two to six lane roads I (we?) ride on. In a twelve foot lane, there is some question as to whether or not a cyclist should take the lane; some will and most won't. If a car is eight feet wide and a cyclist is two feet wide, then a cyclist can gutter hug and still have a two-foot buffer between the cyclist and the passing car. This can be even greater if the car slightly crosses the center and the cyclist overhangs the gutter a bit. Of course, some motor vehicles are wider than eight feet, some motorists won't move all the way to the left side of the lane to pass and debris/storm grates/road imperfections can keep the cyclist from being all the way into the gutter. Even still, most of the time gutter-hugging is just fine in twelve foot lanes, but most of the time isn't good enough for me.

What happens in a ten foot lane is completely different. There's just no way for a motorist to pass a cyclist while staying in the lane. Even if the cyclist is all the way to the right, the motorist is going to have to at least partially change lanes. Thus, many more cyclists will safely take the lane in ten foot lanes and experience fewer close passes. Personally, I like wide lanes, like thirteen to fourteen feet, that I can FRAP and I like ten foot lanes that I can simply take, but those intermediate widths are unsettling.
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Old 10-08-14, 01:33 PM
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As someone who spends 8+ hours a day driving a 9' wide vehicle, I must say I don't care for 10' lanes. Not so much that they make things harder for me as they reduce what I have to work with in compensating for the deficiencies of others.
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Old 10-08-14, 02:09 PM
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A nine lane arterial exists to get cars from point A to B as quickly as possible.

Nine lane arterials should not exist in a city with pedestrians, parked cars, bicyclists, and who knows what else sharing the road.
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Old 10-08-14, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
A nine lane arterial exists to get cars from point A to B as quickly as possible.
As a cyclist I choose and prefer the 7 lane arterial streets partly for that reason. Plus drivers are far more alert in fast heavy traffic than on quiet side streets and I get a whole lane to myself and easy passing for everyone else.
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Old 10-08-14, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
Personally, I like wide lanes, like thirteen to fourteen feet, that I can FRAP and I like ten foot lanes that I can simply take, but those intermediate widths are unsettling.
Agree. Give me one or the other it's the in-betweens that cause a lot of friction.
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Old 10-08-14, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
As someone who spends 8+ hours a day driving a 9' wide vehicle, I must say I don't care for 10' lanes. Not so much that they make things harder for me as they reduce what I have to work with in compensating for the deficiencies of others.
More detail? Specific situations?
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Old 10-08-14, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
As someone who spends 8+ hours a day driving a 9' wide vehicle, I must say I don't care for 10' lanes. Not so much that they make things harder for me as they reduce what I have to work with in compensating for the deficiencies of others.
8.53018 feet wide (sans mirrors), but who's counting.

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Old 10-08-14, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I read at least 15 paragraphs into the article and gave up trying to find a single word written about why 12-foot lanes are disastrous for safety and must be replaced. Does the article ever provide a reason?
I didn't see any actual proof either; the author pointed to studies showing a correlation between narrower lanes and fewer accidents. Statistics like that don't prove cause and effect, so the strong statement that wider lanes are dangerous is shaky at best. But to be fair, they had a few good points. People are influenced by their environment, and there are certainly some badly-designed roadways out there.
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Old 10-08-14, 08:30 PM
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This seems typical of "complete streets" mentality that the wider the lane the more vehicle traffic and faster speeds, in other words more efficient for most users. So they like to squeeze the lanes (or use optical illusions in the painting) to slow down vehicles. Along the same line as ped bulb-outs which work great to force cyclists into the lane. Throw in a few speed bumps with no bicycle provision for good measure, and a stop sign every block.

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Old 10-08-14, 08:36 PM
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I don't think the lane width is the problem on the road he mentioned... I think the problem is the fact it is 9 lanes wide. Ugh. Those roads suck for everyone.
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Old 10-08-14, 08:54 PM
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The minimum width of interstate highway lanes, where people routinely drive 70 mph or greater, happens to be 12 feet. What happens when you make city street lanes 12 feet wide? It should come as no surprise that people drive too fast.
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Old 10-08-14, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
More detail? Specific situations?
Someone texting/talking drifts into my lane, an extra couple of feet could make the difference between avoidance or contact.
If I were to pass you in a safe legal manner, wouldn't it be preferable to have 8' of separation rather than 6' of separation?
When a semi negotiates a curve, the trailer tracks further in than the tractor which necessitates crowding opposing traffic and anyone on the shoulder or a bike lane.

I take my responsibility for the safety of others very seriously, just because what I do may be "legal", I rather have a greater margin for error.
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Old 10-09-14, 12:09 AM
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As a cyclist and a previous commercial motorist, I prefer a road with a single 12' lane with 8 ' of shoulder over two lane road with dual 10' lanes and no shoulder. This makes it safer for everyone, especially if there is an accident or a break down, I've found that wider lanes have better visibility and more wiggle room.

On the other hand, when its a multiple lane road, say 2 lanes or more in each direction, 12' lanes encourage speeding, as they are often similar to a highway in that respect. The speed difference between motorists and cyclists is a significant risk factor that needs to be taken into account on multiple lane roads.
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Old 10-09-14, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
Someone texting/talking drifts into my lane, an extra couple of feet could make the difference between avoidance or contact.
If I were to pass you in a safe legal manner, wouldn't it be preferable to have 8' of separation rather than 6' of separation?
When a semi negotiates a curve, the trailer tracks further in than the tractor which necessitates crowding opposing traffic and anyone on the shoulder or a bike lane.

I take my responsibility for the safety of others very seriously, just because what I do may be "legal", I rather have a greater margin for error.
The margin of error can be increased by widening the lane and reducing curve radii (road design) *OR* reducing the width, length and perhaps height of the vehicle (vehicle design).

For three decades it's been clear that the accident rate of STAA Trucks on urban roads is unacceptable.

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Old 10-09-14, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post
The margin of error can be increased by widening the lane and reducing curve radii (road design) *OR* reducing the width, length and perhaps height of the vehicle (vehicle design).

For three decades it's been clear that the accident rate of STAA Trucks on urban roads is unacceptable.

-mr. bill
Its not that I wouldn't prefer driving smaller trucks, but just the company I drive for, one that most people utilize directly or indirectly on a daily basis, already logs over 4 million vehicle miles a day. How many more trucks do you want on the road?

I think folks just don't comprehend the scale of commercial transportation necessary to keep them fed, clothed, sheltered, connected, and entertained.
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Old 10-09-14, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
Its not that I wouldn't prefer driving smaller trucks, but just the company I drive for....

I think folks just don't comprehend the scale of commercial transportation necessary to keep them fed, clothed, sheltered, connected, and entertained.
The company wins, unfortunately the drivers and those around them do not.
I don't think folks understand how commercial transport works in NYC.

The so-called last mile is noise when it comes to miles logged in commercial transport.

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Old 10-09-14, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post
I don't think folks understand how commercial transport works in NYC.

The so-called last mile is noise when it comes to miles logged in commercial transport.
"For all of our activities, the average American requires the movement of 57 tons of cargo per year."
A primer on U.S. Freight Movement: A Complete Guide to the Future of U.S. Freight Movement - CityLab

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Old 10-10-14, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
Someone texting/talking drifts into my lane, an extra couple of feet could make the difference between avoidance or contact.
If I were to pass you in a safe legal manner, wouldn't it be preferable to have 8' of separation rather than 6' of separation?
When a semi negotiates a curve, the trailer tracks further in than the tractor which necessitates crowding opposing traffic and anyone on the shoulder or a bike lane.

I take my responsibility for the safety of others very seriously, just because what I do may be "legal", I rather have a greater margin for error.
Thanks for that. How is it that the UK is so much safer with such narrower lanes? They have 1/2 to 1/3 the crash and fatality rates as the U.S. Their roads are also massively narrower. 9' to 10' lane widths the norm, 12' exceptionally rare. Entire road widths of less than 12' are not uncommon. And all of these have HGV's.
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Old 10-10-14, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post
The margin of error can be increased by widening the lane and reducing curve radii (road design)
Or, the need for so much margin of error can be nearly eliminated by narrower lanes, fewer shoulders, and stuff like trees closer to the side of the lane that all combined require people who are driving to pay attention to driving rather than their cell phone.
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Old 10-10-14, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
Thanks for that. How is it that the UK is so much safer with such narrower lanes? They have 1/2 to 1/3 the crash and fatality rates as the U.S. Their roads are also massively narrower. 9' to 10' lane widths the norm, 12' exceptionally rare. Entire road widths of less than 12' are not uncommon. And all of these have HGV's.
Better driver training? Tighter controls on young/new drivers? Better vehicle road worthlessness standards? Better road maintenance? Smaller vehicles? Fewer vehicle miles driven? Less volume?
Kinda hard to compare the two countries directly.

Just my thoughts from the years I lived in Europe, and 25 years as a professional CDL class A driver with double/triple trailer, hazmat, tanker, bus, three wheeler, and MC endorsements, but I don't spend much time reading "studies" on the internet, so my observations in the real world probably don't hold water here.
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