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Thread: Why not use bike lanes?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Why not use bike lanes?

    I am sure I will get slack for this one from the peddlers, but when there is a bike lane why do bikers still insist on riding in the street? I see this often (including this morning).

    Now I bike myself sometimes for fun, and I fear for my safety, so if there is a bike lane, I use it… I just don’t understand why someone would jeopardize their own safety by ignoring the bike lane like that… is it to prove a point?
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  2. #2
    maudit anglais
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    Do you mean on-street bicycle lanes, or off-street bicycle paths?

    As a commuter cyclist I will use a bicycle lane, but I tend not to use off-street paths as they are less direct, have more conflicts with peds, driveways, etc. We put in this great off-street path along an arterial, but the one thing that bugs me is ups and downs at all the cross-street intersections because of the curbing. Cyclists have every right to cycle on-street if they desire, and it's usually the fastest, most direct way of getting from A-B.

  3. #3

    bad-form biking

    It really bugs me as well- I think some people are just clueless or not thinking. Living in a pedestrian popular city- bikers often go against traffic-making close calls common place - or ride on the sidewalk- which is the most troublesome- rather have risk-takers than scaredy-cats




    Quote Originally posted by H
    I am sure I will get slack for this one from the peddlers, but when there is a bike lane why do bikers still insist on riding in the street? I see this often (including this morning).

    Now I bike myself sometimes for fun, and I fear for my safety, so if there is a bike lane, I use it… I just don’t understand why someone would jeopardize their own safety by ignoring the bike lane like that… is it to prove a point?

  4. #4
         
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    Quote Originally posted by H
    I am sure I will get slack for this one from the peddlers, but when there is a bike lane why do bikers still insist on riding in the street? I see this often (including this morning).

    Now I bike myself sometimes for fun, and I fear for my safety, so if there is a bike lane, I use it… I just don’t understand why someone would jeopardize their own safety by ignoring the bike lane like that… is it to prove a point?
    Though I do not know the exact layout of the street, I am often skeptical of bike lanes as a biker. In some instances where there are parallel parked cars along your right side and moving cars to your left, these bike lanes can be a death trap waiting to happen. All it takes is one opened car door and you are either swerving into traffic, or being thrown off your bike into traffic. Just a couple years ago, some woman was forced under a bus in Central Square in Cambridge, MA.

    As for me, I'd rather ride along with traffic. I know that when I do this at least the driver has to pay attention to me. With bike lanes, drivers act like they don't have to worry about you.

    The best bike lanes I have ever seen are in Montreal. The city has built an actual lane with a curb to seperate your from the street traffic. This dedicated lane is perfect. I wish I had some pics.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner
    Do you mean on-street bicycle lanes, or off-street bicycle paths?
    Both, really.

    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner
    Cyclists have every right to cycle on-street if they desire...
    I am not disputing that, rather just trying to figure out the mentality of why someone would put themselves into such jeopardy like that.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Our MPO recently commissioned a study that, among other things, found that on-road cyclists in urban areas tend to be males with risk-taking personalities. At least in this area, no women or kids were seen using bike lanes on arterial roads.

  7. #7

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    As a fairly avid cyclist, I have never understood fully the dismissal of bicycle lanes by "advocates." Sure, we have the "right" to use traffic lanes, multi-modal shared traffic is often slower and safer, etc. etc., but I still like having the space. I am not enough of a risk taker to "enjoy" sharing a lane with a 6,000 pound "extended" version of the Escalade-a little wider shoulder striped for cyclists is fine by me.

    It's just common sense to use it-unless you are making a left turn or there are significant conflicts with parked cars' door openings. The latter factor may be a reason to avoid close to the shoulder riding. And, in dense, slow-moving urban center traffic, it may make sense to flow with the (slow-moving) traffic -especially when you are going to make a turn.

    There. A good self-contradiction in two paragraphs.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by breeze
    The best bike lanes I have ever seen are in Montreal. The city has built an actual lane with a curb to seperate your from the street traffic. This dedicated lane is perfect. I wish I had some pics.
    I don't have any Montreal pictures, but here are examples from Amsterdam and London.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Bike Lane in Amsterdam-1.jpg   Bike Lane in London-1A.jpg  

    Bike Lane in London-2A.jpg  

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Bike lanes in Montreal are horrible.

    In general, bad bike lanes can be more dangerous than no bike lane at all. Off-street bike lanes can be especially dangerous if there's a lot of cross traffic. It's been shown that bikers are safer on the street than on the sidewalk because most accidents occur at intersections and turning cars are far less likely to notice a bike on the sidewalk.

    On street bike lanes are very dangerous if they're not wide enough to allow bikers to avoid the "door zone" of the parked cars. For that reason, Chicago will not stripe a bike lane of less than 5' in width next to parallel parking.

    But even when there are good bike lanes, there are many reasons for the biker to take the lane, including debris or bad pavement in the bike lane or making a left turn. Motorists, for their part, should learn to look out for bikers (as well as pedestrians, children, etc) wherever they are on the road.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by H
    I am sure I will get slack for this one from the peddlers, but when there is a bike lane why do bikers still insist on riding in the street? I see this often (including this morning).

    Now I bike myself sometimes for fun, and I fear for my safety, so if there is a bike lane, I use it… I just don’t understand why someone would jeopardize their own safety by ignoring the bike lane like that… is it to prove a point?
    Many cyclists don't use bike lanes is because they don't suffer from a lack of maintenance. They get filled with gravel, broken glass, leaves and other flotsam and jetsam that make for a crappy cycling experience.

    Was this a grade-separated bike path, or a painted bike lane in the street? Personally, I'm rarely in favor of the former since they tend to reinforce in non-cyclist's minds that "bikes shouldn't be in the streets."
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- Another problem with many off-street path is they seem built with the idea that a cyclist will put his bike on top of his SUV, drive to the end of the path, ride a short loop, and then go home.

    Ergo, the paths twist back and forth infuriatingly, go up and down man made hills, and have all other manner of obstacles that make them impractical for real transportation.

  12. #12
    I use the bike lane whenever it's there. Sometimes I have to get out of it because of debris or there is no bike lane and just a white strip on the edge of the asphalt. Most roads I ride are for 55mph traffic which means people do about 65mph. For the most part I really like the bike lanes around my area. All the schmucks that throw their alcohol bottles out their window can go to hell.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    I use the bike lanes whenever available (as do most cyclists here) but that doesn't stop motorists from parking in them, using them as turn lanes, or using them to pass other drivers on the right, etc. Car doors are also a huge issue. I've been hit twice in two years and had numerous other close calls. On Chestnut and Market Streets where there's a 12 ft. wide bike/bus lane i make sure to use all of it, errant drivers be damned.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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    Quote Originally posted by Polaris Planner
    I don't have any Montreal pictures, but here are examples from Amsterdam and London.
    Those are the kinds of bike lanes that I was refering to in Montreal. I do not see how these are horrible lanes. The ones in Montreal, like these in Amsterdam, even have lights for the bikes to stop at. I don't know how widespread they are, but they definitely exist on Avenue de Mont-Royal.

    I guess these seem great to the lanes I'm used to running on main roads throughout Atlanta where I'm currently living. Luckily the roads don't have too much car traffic on them!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Bike lanes in Montreal are horrible.
    I wholly disagree. I have seen many in the Plateau that are completely separated from the street with Jersey barriers and or curbing with their own bicycle signals. I have also seen seasonal lanes that are created by simply requiring parallel parked vehicles to park ~5 feet from the curb (these are on small residential streets).

  16. #16

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    My favorite bicycle trail complaint is in my town of residence. There is a quite pleasant trail system along major creeks in Vacaville. However, the experience is marred because every time the trail crosses ANYTHING, including a shared driveway serving TWO houses, there are these horrible metal GATES that require you to maneuver very carefully or even dismount. Sometimes our safety engineering goes too far-these gates really irritate me.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Lanes, what lanes.....

    I agree that the on grade on street bike lanes fill up with garbage. In Colorado, the lanes would be full of sand from the previous winter, making it easy to slide all over the place, even with a mountain bike

    Here in South Florida, the problem seems to be that people prefer riding the opposite direction against rush hour traffic and or at night wearing only dark clothing with no reflectors The idea being ( I think), that if they survive the crash (likely because vehicles can't go more than 10-15mph anyway), they will become rich off the legal settlement. (see my numerous other posts regarding this) In reality, when a region (south Florida) has effectively no connected trails or bike paths to speak of.....people are forced to use streets. The sidewalks along most major roads in urbanized areas are about 3 feet wide and have numerous utilities located within the sidewalk area....you try riding on that, keeping between the verticle curb drop and the parking lot, while keeping a look out for the pedestrians
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    Our MPO recently commissioned a study that, among other things, found that on-road cyclists in urban areas tend to be males with risk-taking personalities. At least in this area, no women or kids were seen using bike lanes on arterial roads.
    Isn't this a contradiction. Male bicycle riders are predominantly the offending, risk takers class, but by the way they are also joined by moms and kids who never ride in bicycle lanes - which you imply are safe.

    Risk takers? This is a bit of casuality, no. What people who are involved in sports are not risk-takers? I would consider football players, surfers, open water swimmers, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, rugby players, water and downhill skiiers, mountaineers a segment of the risk-taking class. It doesn't mean that they are stupid, some people adapt by learning how to avoid danger and learning how to operate in an environment as opposed to feeling at any sign of perceived danger.
    My goodness, we all go out of weekends, yes. Isn't that dangerous because of all the drunk drivers? So aren't we all risk-takers?

    Here is a better statistic. Take the average number of utilitarian (e.g. transportation) miles travelled by those bicycle riders in the street vs. the average number of utilitarian miles travelled by those who believe in the bicycle lane. Not to divide "real cyclists" and others, but it would probably be a better use of research money.
    If you want to know why people are doing something, my advice would be to simply ask them instead of getting high paid "pros" to use research methods to determine their personality; the former seems easier and more accurate.


    Quote Originally posted by H
    I just don’t understand why someone would jeopardize their own safety by ignoring the bike lane like that
    It's good that you realised the blantant disregard for order, but I also have to say it is a bit condescending to say the people jeopardise their safety because they ride in the street. Without understanding cyclists, like myself, who generally disregard bicycle lanes I would steer clear of value judgements.

    As was previously said, some cyclists view bike lanes as:
    filled with mud, water and debris:If there is no auto traffic over a path it will collect debris, period. People riding cyclo-cross and mountain bikes may not notice the debris that much, but road cyclists are significantly affect; jackhammering feeling,etc
    Next time it rains look at the bike lane.

    Right turns: On a road bike (skinny tires) or a bike riden by a conditioned cyclists bike lanes spell doom, because they may be travelling around the same speed (20-34mph) as an auto. When this happens, a right turning lane is essentially made from the second rightmost lane.

    Pedestrians:
    http://alliance.freeshell.org/cycle.html - Explains on street cycling
    One of the links it has is from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation:
    http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/f...hs/index.html#
    replete with video segments.


    Most bicycle-automobile collisions occur at intersections, this is universal, regardless of where you ride. It is also dangerous to unnecessarily hype relatively safe actions (riding with traffic), this tends to diminish serious threats to safety. Take a look at
    http://bicyclesafe.com

    Quote Originally posted by Polaris Planner
    I don't have any Montreal pictures, but here are examples from Amsterdam and London.
    This a bit of a skewed example. Many visitors to Europe only go to capital cities and consider it a representation of the national consciousness. I have some examples. Try Antwerp, Flanders, Belgium. If you don't know what it is, it is a Dutch speaking city in Belgium, almost all the young people from the six or so universities ride bicycles. And there is only one bike lane downtown that loops the park, most bike riders I saw (300+) rode in on the bike laneless streets. I saw about 4 people riding on a sidewalk. The rest of the bicycle riders chose to share the lane with the cars and trolley cars, signalling their way through traffic.


    The best "bicycle lane" design I have heard of are well spaced bicycle-chevron markers. Otherwise I will always prefer the draft, smooth pavement, no pedestrians, no dogs, and no water puddles.

    chiz,
    muer
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    http://alliance.freeshell.org

  19. #19
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by muer
    but I also have to say it is a bit condescending to say the people jeopardise their safety because they ride in the street. Without understanding cyclists, like myself, who generally disregard bicycle lanes I would steer clear of value judgements.
    I don’t mean to be condescending or make any value judgments… let me rephrase… I personally do not ride my own bike on a street because I fear for my safety… If there was a bike lane and I was on a bike, I would use it.

    But, I get the sense that many bikers dislike bike lanes, for the many reasons stated on this thread… so what should we (as a society) do? Should we stop wasting money on them, since bikers don’t seem to like them?… are there any pros to bike lanes… because according to this thread they seem to be largely a wasted effort.

    So what do bikers want? Better bike lanes or better streets?


    EDIT: I dont know the terms, I guess, but I consider a painted line separation part of the street, and a separate path a bike lane... I probably have this wrong... but even with the painted line I witness that many bikers still ride in the left side of it(ie. this morning).

    [playing devil's advocate]As I explained to a collegue this morning, as a biker I would not want to get into an accident with a car becuase I could get hurt, but as a car I dont want to get into an accident with a bike because it would make me late to where I was going...[/playing devil's advocate]
    Last edited by H; 20 Apr 2005 at 11:09 PM.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  20. #20
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by H
    But, I get the sense that many bikers dislike bike lanes, for the many reasons stated on this thread… so what should we (as a society) do? Should we stop wasting money on them, since bikers don’t seem to like them?… are there any pros to bike lanes… because according to this thread they seem to be largely a wasted effort.

    So what do bikers want? Better bike lanes or better streets?
    I think that you're assuming that because a cyclist doesn't use a bike lane, it means they don't like them. I don't think that's the case, for the reasons stated by others in this thread. If they are poorly designed, not maintained, etc., they won't be used as much.

    But, if a good network of bike lanes is created in a city, like has happened in Portland, the cycling mode split goes up. So I wouldn't say that they're a waste of money, since they cost precious little to build anyway.

    And addressing safety, a person is far more likely to be killed or injured while driving their car as opposed to riding their bike.
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by H

    EDIT: I dont know the terms, I guess, but I consider a painted line separation part of the street, and a separate path a bike lane... I probably have this wrong... but even with the painted line I witness that many bikers still ride in the left side of it(ie. this morning).
    When I ride on streets with dedicated bike lanes, I still ride as far left in the lane as possible to give myself more space to react and to avoid the cracked pavement that is usually near the edge of the road. Only time I'll ride a bit closer is if I know I am going slower than the other cyclists (rarely). .
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  22. #22
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by H
    So what do bikers want? Better bike lanes or better streets?
    Yes. Plus secure parking, shower/change facilities at work and above all - respect from automobile drivers!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally posted by nuovorecord
    I think that you're assuming that because a cyclist doesn't use a bike lane, it means they don't like them. I don't think that's the case, for the reasons stated by others in this thread. If they are poorly designed, not maintained, etc., they won't be used as much.
    I actually don't like bicycle lanes I have seen. I can only speak for the places I have ridden or seen in person (D.C., Athens, Baton Rouge, Austin, Auburn, London, and some other places). The difference between not accepting the concept of the bicycle lane and having poorly designed bicycle facilities is a moot point, because in most places the people in charge of bicycle facilities don't ride and prolifically churn out useless accomodations.

    I won't be prejudice or ignorant and say they are all bad, because some bicycle lanes in London are entire streets - which only allow delivery vehicles and bicycles. Also
    bridge paths seem to be a good idea sometimes.
    In a place like Dallas bicycle lanes aren't really needed because Texas builds three lane- one way streets and six lane boulevards by default even though the traffic volume doesn't fill them. Their minor highways have wide shoulders by default also.


    Quote Originally posted by nuovorecord
    But, if a good network of bike lanes is created in a city, like has happened in Portland, the cycling mode split goes up.
    That's misleading. This only says the modal split increases, therefore people who used to ride buses and walk - not just those you drove cars - who start riding bicycles account for the modal split increase.


    Nuovorecord probably would agree alot of cycling has to do with image and what is accepted and "cool." In Baton Rouge it is not cool. In Portland it is cool. On the west coast its environmental and sustainable. Down south if someone sees you ride they will ask "Why do you ride a biiicycle?" - which is actually a good thing. Bicycles paths and lanes definitely can attract people to cycling. I started riding because of a bicycle path, but on the same token I no longer use bicycle paths or lanes. And the effect of building lanes which in fact do cost a lot of money (millions of dollars) and other methods should be considered by people who know cycling.

    All cities can cycle but you can't just whip out the Portland, Eugene formula to achieve success.

    Bicycle lanes and paths make cycling seem accepted. Like if you are riding a bicycle you arent some poor hoodlum. Virtually all people need that validation to do anything.

    I have probably not commuted in your city so I can give you a universal answer, but in my city and a few other places I have ridden I would suggest the following:

    What do commuting cyclists need?
    1. bicycle racks that dont scratch bicycles
    2. shower access at major centers (downtown, fire stations?, recreational centers)
    3. tree lined streets with canopies
    4. bicycle racks in shaded or air conditioned areas, not in the blazing sun
    5. Teach cyclists how to ride in traffic and by all means don't consider the topic any further until you visit bicyclesafe.com
    6. Bicycle lanes up hill might be good
    7. Bicycle paths that border an area(park, body of water) with no junctions are decent.
    8. Consult commuting cyclists - commuting being the key word - about cycling needs

  24. #24
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    I intend to write a big explanation of why I don't like Montreal bike paths, but I don't have time tonight. I want to respond to H's question though:

    I think on-street bike lanes are wonderful. They provide space between the parked cars and the auto traffic that makes riding one's bike much more safe and pleasant IF THEY'RE DESIGNED PROPERLY. In general, they are very cheap to install (but they should be policed, which could be considered a cost but would probably pay for itself in parking fines.)

    Off street paths, I have more reservations about. They can be done right, witness the lakefront path in Chicago that is both a great recreational and transportation resource. But in general, I'd rather see the money go to on-street lanes, or other facilities like outlined above. Bike paths parallel to streets, I don't think I like (because of the cross-street issue). And paths designed specifically for recreation, that generally don't go from where people are to where they want to be, or do so with such an oblique route that the only way someone would take it would be if "the journey was the destination," send the wrong message about the purpose of biking. Again, I'd rather see the money spent getting more bikes on the road doing something useful.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    ^-- Another problem with many off-street path is they seem built with the idea that a cyclist will put his bike on top of his SUV, drive to the end of the path, ride a short loop, and then go home.
    I just got done surveying a mile long bike path with 21 curves in it. It was only 1/4 mile as the crow flies. I swear it was designed by a two year old with a crayon. The route made no sense whatsoever and was a huge pain to stake out.

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