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Bike Lanes or no bike lanes

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Bike Lanes or no bike lanes

Old 10-28-14, 02:38 AM
  #1  
Chris516
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Bike Lanes or no bike lanes

I found this article on the site for Bicycling magazine.

Do Drivers Care About Bike Lanes? | Bicycling
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Old 10-28-14, 03:58 AM
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Wide roads make all the difference. We all knew that already, right?
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Old 10-28-14, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by TallTravel View Post
Wide roads make all the difference. We all knew that already, right?

Saw that in the conclusion of the study. Interesting read and test conditions.

On a NYC note - after 3 years of riding the dedicated bike paths - I see very low usage in the 1st Avenue bike lane, as well as the West Side Columbus Ave lane. On these two lanes there are always salmon delivery people, walking pads. sometimes women with strollers, some joggers, trucks off-loading stuff in the lane and the ever-present cell phone-distracted driver coming out of their car and not looking around. It's actually ideal for me now as I have a trapezius nerve injury which makes me go really, really slow - 12 mph.
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Old 10-28-14, 07:26 AM
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Pretty much matches my experience. I actually have drivers pass a bit closer when there's a white line they can follow.
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Old 10-28-14, 07:47 AM
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The only problem is that the choices they give... wide road with bike lane or wide road without bike lane, both encourage motorists to drive faster.

What we really want are narrower slower roads that are easily shared by all... very much like the European model that is so often touted as existing because the cities are so old. (disclaimer... yes, I know all of Europe is not the same, and cycling differs from country to country, but for expedience I am citing "Europe.")

The fact is the best solution for sharing the roads are narrow slow roads... if that is not possible for some reason (IE "the distances are too great, we need arterial roads... bla bla bla") then the next best solution are well designed bike paths along well designed high speed roads with appropriate signals for crossing and turning.

Since the latter won't be paid for... we end up with what we have... the mismash of bad roads, bad bike lanes and wide multilane arterial roads that drivers use as "freeways" when they think they can get away with it... with the end result that cycling modal share in the US is very low.

Of course in a dream world, I would prefer independent networks for motorists and cyclists as they have in places like Oulu Finland. But that is just a dream.
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Old 10-28-14, 08:11 AM
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^ We have plenty of narrow farm roads (10-12' wide, no shoulder) and most drivers are content traveling at 50-60mph.
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Old 10-28-14, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
^ We have plenty of narrow farm roads (10-12' wide, no shoulder) and most drivers are content traveling at 50-60mph.
And they readily share that road with cyclists?

The reason the motorists have no issue going fast on such roads, is that like wide roads mentioned earlier, there are no visual clues or hard guides such as center barriers or curbs that would induce a motorist to go slower.

Take the same road and plant trees or bushes along the edges and motorists will slow down. Put in a center barrier and motorists will slow down. They see that 10-12 foot lane as a 20-24 foot lane and tend to drive to that... slowing at corners, when meeting opposing traffic, and at intersections. Otherwise, it is seen as a wide open space... the same thing as a wide lane on a curbed arterial road...

This BTW is discussed in the book "Traffic, why we drive the way we do." Even small things, like lines across the road, will slow down free flowing traffic in cases as these.
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Old 10-28-14, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
...Take the same road and plant trees or bushes along the edges and motorists will slow down. ..
IDK. In the suburbs and rural areas of the Northeast there are plenty of roads with no shoulders and trees bushes and power poles right at the edge of the road. Most drivers are used to it and drive pretty fast. I certainly drive as fast and perhaps a bit faster than average, and that's always significantly over the posted limit. I really don't have any issue with the speed of the vehicles as long as they pass with sufficient margin.

Would they drive faster on wide roads? There are wider roads too and speeds may be somewhat higher, but not dramatically so.
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Old 10-28-14, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
I actually have drivers pass a bit closer when there's a white line they can follow.
This.

If they have their own lane, and I have my own lane, there are zero thoughts given to passing me. If I'm in "their" lane then they get apprehensive, scared, cautious, or whatever else you want to call it and often give even too much room during the pass. Of course, there's always, on every ride, the angry fellow who passes way too close. I feel what the bike lane does is give me more room from the guy who is just not going to move over for me, and for this I am often thankful.
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Old 10-28-14, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
IDK. In the suburbs and rural areas of the Northeast there are plenty of roads with no shoulders and trees bushes and power poles right at the edge of the road. Most drivers are used to it and drive pretty fast. I certainly drive as fast and perhaps a bit faster than average, and that's always significantly over the posted limit. I really don't have any issue with the speed of the vehicles as long as they pass with sufficient margin.

Would they drive faster on wide roads? There are wider roads too and speeds may be somewhat higher, but not dramatically so.
Hey, don't believe me... Read the book (which I have no connection to) and see what the author says... Streets lined with cars have a similar effect of slowing drivers.
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Old 10-28-14, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
I found this article on the site for Bicycling magazine.

Do Drivers Care About Bike Lanes? | Bicycling
On my commute to work, there is a 4-6 lane wide expressway, with 50mph speed limits, and parallel to it a 2 lane road, with bike paths, and a 25mph speed limit. The two lane rd is a total of 48 ft wide, has a double yellow line down the middle, and the remaining 24' on each side is divided into a 12' travel lane, and a 12' combined parking/bike lane. During rush hour, traffic on the expressway is such that it is often faster to drive on the parallel route (well in excess of the posted speed limit). If I ride within the bike lane, I am in the door zone for the parked cars, but if there is a marked bike lane and I don't ride in it, I am harassed by the motorists. This is a case where we would be much better off if all paint were removed from the narrower street, and each user just did what was safest.

Enforcement of traffic speed laws wouldn't hurt either.

For those of you curious to look on Google, the roads are in Santa Clara, CA, and are Los Padres and San Tomas Expressway.
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Old 10-28-14, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by sauerwald View Post
On my commute to work, there is a 4-6 lane wide expressway, with 50mph speed limits, and parallel to it a 2 lane road, with bike paths, and a 25mph speed limit. The two lane rd is a total of 48 ft wide, has a double yellow line down the middle, and the remaining 24' on each side is divided into a 12' travel lane, and a 12' combined parking/bike lane. During rush hour, traffic on the expressway is such that it is often faster to drive on the parallel route (well in excess of the posted speed limit). If I ride within the bike lane, I am in the door zone for the parked cars, but if there is a marked bike lane and I don't ride in it, I am harassed by the motorists. This is a case where we would be much better off if all paint were removed from the narrower street, and each user just did what was safest.

Enforcement of traffic speed laws wouldn't hurt either.

For those of you curious to look on Google, the roads are in Santa Clara, CA, and are Los Padres and San Tomas Expressway.
Maybe even improve the parallel slow street routes by adding speed bumps with cut outs for cyclists, eh?
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Old 10-28-14, 12:25 PM
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I've seen more bike lanes go into philly. For me it depends on how they get maintained even if it is a wide road. Some bike lanes are just shoulders with lines, and it's still smoother to ride in the road. I'd bet the drivers would be happier if I'm in the middle of a lane that has no bike lane, as opposed to a bike lane riddled with potholes that I'm avoiding, which just looks like I'm disregarding the lane. So yes, wide roads first, but maintenance helps too.
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Old 10-28-14, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
And they readily share that road with cyclists?

The reason the motorists have no issue going fast on such roads, is that like wide roads mentioned earlier, there are no visual clues or hard guides such as center barriers or curbs that would induce a motorist to go slower.

Take the same road and plant trees or bushes along the edges and motorists will slow down. Put in a center barrier and motorists will slow down. They see that 10-12 foot lane as a 20-24 foot lane and tend to drive to that... slowing at corners, when meeting opposing traffic, and at intersections. Otherwise, it is seen as a wide open space... the same thing as a wide lane on a curbed arterial road...

This BTW is discussed in the book "Traffic, why we drive the way we do." Even small things, like lines across the road, will slow down free flowing traffic in cases as these.
These roads are often tree-lined, or have high corn fields on either side. Definitely plenty of visual speed cues. A (mostly) straight road with few intersections invites high speed.

What context was the book looking at? I definitely do see slower speeds on city streets with the aforementioned additions (dividers, trees, parked cars, etc.), but once in the suburbs/rural areas, highway speeds are the norm.
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Old 10-28-14, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
Pretty much matches my experience. I actually have drivers pass a bit closer when there's a white line they can follow.
+1
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Old 10-28-14, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Hey, don't believe me... Read the book (which I have no connection to) and see what the author says... Streets lined with cars have a similar effect of slowing drivers.
I believe people may drive slower on narrower roads, but by how much and whether it's consequential will depend on a number of factors like the environment and type and experience of the driver. And in the end, like I said, I don't have an issue with speed drivers are typically traveling.
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Old 10-28-14, 02:29 PM
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I'm not seeing the issue with bike lanes that aren't in door zones. If I stay in my lane and they stay in theirs it works out fine. No facility or absence of one will compensate for a lack of common sense or intestinal fortitude.
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Old 10-28-14, 02:40 PM
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I think there's a reason that The Netherlands (and others following) does not recommend bike lanes anymore, though I think it had more to do with actual fatalities and injuries than how people felt. Their solution now is either a low volume of cars going no more than 18 mph (actual, not just posted), or a physically segregated cycletrack or side path.
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Old 10-28-14, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Take the same road and plant trees or bushes along the edges and motorists will slow down. Put in a center barrier and motorists will slow down.
This is certainly not the case in Europe. Go down to Cornwall or around Skye (or any number of places) and you'll see loads of people driving 60 mph on twisty roads with 9' lanes and they are 9' because it's 18' between trees, brush, and embankments. About the only thing that really slows people down is when it's 18' between stone walls.

Narrowing lanes does have an impact. I think it's about 3 mph slower average per foot narrower than 12'. It is very far from a panacea though. I'm all for narrowing roads but the only way you'll really slow traffic is to keep road lengths less than about 1/4 mile so that the only people using them are local access. Otherwise you need segregated bicycle facilities.
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Old 10-28-14, 02:59 PM
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In my experience drivers seldom drive in or on the typical door zone bike lane. I usually ride at the left edge of the bike lane, sometimes on the white line. Passing distances seem about the same as when I'm riding on a similar width street with no bike lane. Drivers and cyclists are quite used to each other here, and for the most past neither seem to get too freaked out about a 3 foot pass, or even a 2 foot pass at slower (20 mph) car speeds. I get irritated with a 2 foot pass at 35 mph, but if I'm riding 20 mph so it is only a 15 mph pass, then that doesn't bother me. As a result, on dicey roads I tend to ride with intent.
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Old 10-28-14, 03:15 PM
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I think the issue we (the "grand we") always dance around, is motorist's comfort and convenience. Something this study indirectly addresses in my opinion.

Simply stated, no matter what size the roads are, or what the posted speed limit is, barring a physical barrier (like a car in front of them), the vast majority of people are going to drive wherever they want at the maximum speed they can get away with within their personal level of risk. They are going to maximize their payout (driving where they want to go as fast as comfortable, without being too bored, and with as few stops as possible) while minimizing their risk (crash, ticket, etc.).

I also think one of the biggest problems between cars, bikers, motorcyclists, mopeds, unicyclers, and whoever else may be using the road, is that we humans are tribal in nature. Many of us choose to identify with people who look just like us doing exactly what we are doing, and blame others who aren't doing this for perceived problems. I think this especially true when it comes to changing the existing paradigm, and when people (motorists) perceive a reduced payout (slower speeds, must pay more attention due to other road users on bikes, etc). We gang up on the other group because they are [[ slowing us down, trying to run us over, inattentive on the road, polluting, not licensed, not wearing helmets, texting, eating Cheerios while driving (had a guy almost hit me doing this) ]].

Ultimately, given the extreme polarization that seems to have taken over in our society, and the perceived number of increasing demands on our time/increasing number of distractions, I honestly don't see this getting much better without resorting to some strictly enforced vulnerable user laws, fewer incentives for those driving, far greater punishment for those who run over a vulnerable user, and whenever possible, separate but equally appropriate infrastructure.

Last edited by jwarner; 10-28-14 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 10-28-14, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jwarner View Post
Ultimately, given the extreme polarization that seems to have taken over in our society, and the perceived number of increasing demands on our time/increasing number of distractions, I honestly don't see this getting much better without resorting to some strictly enforced vulnerable user laws, fewer incentives for those driving, far greater punishment for those who run over a vulnerable user, and whenever possible, separate but equally appropriate infrastructure.
Some of your points are spot on. I disagree with a few though.

Yes, there is polarization, but I think it's of a minority, not a majority. The majority of motorists I encounter are quite considerate, it's the minority, maybe one or two percent who are the problem. On the other hand I do think that a much greater percentage of bicycle riders do stuff that angers motorists like blowing through intersections when others have ROW.

Making driving more difficult is not really necessary nor politically feasible in most cases.

We should have better vulnerable user laws but I think these will have little to no impact on safety. They will make everyone feel a little better after the fact when the perp is at least punished a bit rather than sent home with 'no criminality found'.

Most importantly though, YES, we do need good Dutch Standard segregated infrastructure.
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Old 10-28-14, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
The only problem is that the choices they give... wide road with bike lane or wide road without bike lane, both encourage motorists to drive faster.

What we really want are narrower slower roads that are easily shared by all... very much like the European model that is so often touted as existing because the cities are so old. (disclaimer... yes, I know all of Europe is not the same, and cycling differs from country to country, but for expedience I am citing “Europe.”)

The fact is the best solution for sharing the roads are narrow slow roads... if that is not possible for some reason (IE “the distances are too great, we need arterial roads... bla bla bla”) then the next best solution are well designed bike paths along well designed high speed roads with appropriate signals for crossing and turning.

Since the latter won’t be paid for... we end up with what we have... the mismash of bad roads, bad bike lanes and wide multilane arterial roads that drivers use as “freeways” when they think they can get away with it... with the end result that cycling modal share in the US is very low.

Of course in a dream world, I would prefer independent networks for motorists and cyclists as they have in places like Oulu Finland. But that is just a dream.
Gene,

I’ve got to agree with you as I’ve said in other posts I am sick and tired of seeing our roadsides “littered” with memorials to people who have lost their lives to the speed demons who think that they have some sort of “right” to go as fast as they want, whenever they want, wherever they want.

I also have to agree that as a nation that we would be much better off with narrower and lower speed roads vs. multilaned high-speed roads that people use as if they are freeways.

As I have noted in the past I have had motorists honk at and yell at me even though I’ve been in the bike lane, likewise I have had motorists traveling in the opposite direction to me yell at me to either get off of the road or to get in the none existence bike lane.

I can’t help but wonder what these petrol addicts will do come the day that all of the oil reserves are used up, and they’re forced to either use public transportation or bicycles as their primary mode of transportation.
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Old 10-28-14, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
Some of your points are spot on. I disagree with a few though.

Yes, there is polarization, but I think it's of a minority, not a majority. The majority of motorists I encounter are quite considerate, it's the minority, maybe one or two percent who are the problem. On the other hand I do think that a much greater percentage of bicycle riders do stuff that angers motorists like blowing through intersections when others have ROW.

Making driving more difficult is not really necessary nor politically feasible in most cases.

We should have better vulnerable user laws but I think these will have little to no impact on safety. They will make everyone feel a little better after the fact when the perp is at least punished a bit rather than sent home with 'no criminality found'.

Most importantly though, YES, we do need good Dutch Standard segregated infrastructure.

We mostly agree with these things too. Honestly, I also think the only realistic short-term fix is segregated infrastructure. And yes, I too think most folks are basically OK, if somewhat inattentive at times. Of course there are also a lot I run into who will blindly follow a party line through hell with a gas can in each hand rather than think critically through a problem (not saying you are one of these).

In the long-term, the car-centric infrastructure we have built (and continue to extend) is unsustainable. Additionally it contributes to numerous other problems categorically including health, environmental, public safety, etc. Sooner or later, we are going to have to bite the bullet and come up with other ways of doing things, but I do think you are absolutely correct. There is no political will to start solving these (or other problems) until they become huge and infinitely more complex. I wish this were not the case, but evidence seems to indicate that this is how we deal with controversial problems in the US.
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Old 10-28-14, 05:04 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
IDK. In the suburbs and rural areas of the Northeast there are plenty of roads with no shoulders and trees bushes and power poles right at the edge of the road. Most drivers are used to it and drive pretty fast. I certainly drive as fast and perhaps a bit faster than average, and that’s always significantly over the posted limit. I really don’t have any issue with the speed of the vehicles as long as they pass with sufficient margin.

Would they drive faster on wide roads? There are wider roads too and speeds may be somewhat higher, but not dramatically so.
Looigi,

The problem is that that margin is:

a) Different at different speeds, i.e. what is a safe margin at 25MPH becomes an unsafe margin at 35MPH and becomes more unsafe at 55MPH. It also, if I am not mistaken varies with the size of the vehicle doing the passing, i.e. a motorcycle passing a bicycle should require a smaller margin then an 18-wheeler.
b) It appears that most people are unaware of just what is or isn’t a safe passing margin, and they think that when they are passing someone on a bicycle that they are in fact leaving enough room between them and the cyclist when sadly the reality is that they are not.

As to what motorists would or wouldn’t do on certain roads, given that I am not a motorist, I can’t really answer that. Except based on my personal experience with motorists. And that is that on the road that I live it has a posted speed limit of 45MPH but it sure seems as if most motorists are traveling at 50+MPH or more.

And again, as I’ve said in numerous posts, given all of the roadside memorials that I see I think that it is safe to say that most people will go as fast as they think that they can get away with. And I say that it is high time that LE started cracking down on speeders.
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