Are bike lanes good or bad?
We have information for and against bike lanes on BicycleUniverse.
It's legal for cars to park in many bike lanes.
Until the late 1990's, it was legal for cars to park in most bike lanes in the City. That's been slowing changing, as the City has been quietly banning parking from some bike lanes, one roadway at a time (or at least putting some restrictions on parking), such as on Duval St. Also, the City often stripes in new bike lanes whenever it's doing routine resurfacing of a street anyway, and parking is generally prohibited from those bike lanes.
Cost of Striping Bike Lanes. The City's Bicycle Program has been to getting new bike lanes installed when the City happens to be resurfacing a road anyway. This allows the money to come from the regular budget for fixing up roads, and not the Bicycle Program's budget, which is tiny. When a cyclist complained that Lake Austin Blvd. got new bike lanes in 9-00 when Duval Rd. in North Austin needed them more, a Bicycle Program staffer explained the economics behind the decision:
The restriping on Lake Austin was free because of the construction. To resurface Duval road and repaint with bike lanes would cost about $51,000. That's slurryseal at .20/sq ft, paint at .10/linear ft, bike stencils at ~$20 each. I haven't accounted for crosswalks, stop lines, arrows, "onlys", signs, or pavement buttons. This is for a 44-foot wide street, 5400 feet (approx. from Whispering Valley to Mopac). Small change, perhaps, for a city, but a big chunk for a city's Bike Program. Not to mention the fact that we don't just have crews sitting around waiting for people to tell them what street to resurface next. These jobs are done by contractors, bid out and planned well in advance, etc. we are working with street and bridge to try to get streets on their list that we can restripe to be more bike friendly. However, they have a budget too, and can't always include streets whose pavement still has useful life remaining. -- Eric Ziegler, 10-3-00
Okay for electric bikes to use bike lanes. In June 2000, outgoing city councilmember Bill Spelman sponsored a successful resolution to allow electric-powered bicycles to use bike lanes in Austin. (Under state law, anything with a motor is considered a motor vehicle, and motor vehicles are otherwise prohibited from "driving" in bike lanes.)
Planning for Bicycle Lanes by , May 1, 2003
(1) If every single street in Austin had bike lanes or sharrows, is that a good thing? Just from a transportation point of view, are bike lanes or sharrows ever bad for cyclists and/or motorists? Forget the backlash of retrofitting, the cost of retrofitting, the added ROW needed, etc... If you had a perfect world and you were able to snap your fingers and every street got one without any pain to anyone else, are there cases where you wouldn't want them?
(2) If they are never bad, then the decision on how to retrofit streets comes down to priorities. I'm seeing 4 considerations on this based on the discussion
a) Urgency of need for bikelanes/sharrows in the Burbs versus central city
Until we have a coherent message on how we (as a biking political force) prioritize these things, every single bike lane discussion is going to degenerate like this one has [the debate over whether and how to put bike lanes on Guadalupe & Lavaca]. I watched Tommy try and propose a set of bike lane priority criteria at a UTC meeting a year or two ago. It went nowhere. And now we're back at throwing stones at each other again and getting nothing done.
This is a complex problem. It doesn't just involve transportation. Do we always go for the perfect bike lane even if it's 10x more expensive than the imperfect one? Do we go after "easy" streets even if they aren't the most dangerous? Do we push for one unpopular bike lane or spend our political capital on getting budget for 5 that are popular. I'd rather see a group of people who know the political system figure this out and then I'll stick with whatever they go for. But everyone pulling in different directions just keeps us standing still.
Folks, you can come up with arguments NOT to do just about anything. You are NEVER going to have a project that everyone loves.
Hell, this isn't even LRT. It's a STUPID BIKE LANE!
Questioning the importance of bike lanes on Guadalupe & Lavaca by , April 30, 2003
[This is what Mike Dahmus submitted to the Austin City Council.]
I'm a part-time cyclist and part-time driver who sits on the UTC with Tommy, and I respectfully disagree with his position on bicycle lanes downtown. Due to work and childcare issues, I won't be able to speak at the meeting. I believe the position I hold represents fairly well the perspective of the cyclists who operate outside the immediate center-city area, as well as the perspective of cyclists who also drive. I would wager that relatively few of those people will be able to speak at the meeting either; and thus, you may be getting a fairly non-representative sample of opinion. My bicycle route to work currently takes me down Guadalupe in the morning and up Lavaca in the evening; so I feel quite qualified to assess the route's usability compared to the suburban routes I've had to take to work at various times.
More in-depth discussion why I think this is a bad idea was already posted to the austin-bikes list, and is available upon request; I have condensed to the essential minimum here:
1. The bicyclist in question (whose death is the impetus for this move) was riding on the sidewalk, even though he was supposedly an expert cyclist. We cannot protect cyclists who ought to know better from their own bad decisions. Additionally, this was at night; and he may not have had lights.
2. Guadalupe and Lavaca's automobile traffic is currently slow enough that most national bike facilities experts would not recommend even a wide outside lane as an appropriate bicycle facility, much less bike lanes. Traffic is held to a maximum of 25 mph (usually much slower) by signalization; which is a perfectly adequate speed for adult cycling in traffic.
3. Bike lanes on one-way streets with short blocks present additional problems with turning at intersections (not my contribution; but I think it's a valid issue).
4. Nearby parallel routes exist with very light automobile traffic (nearby meaning less than 3 blocks away).
5. Our city's bicycle funding and 'attention' should be spent where the biggest problems are - the outlying parts of the city of Austin (where parallel routes as in #4 are miles rather than blocks away).
6. More practically, it is a bad idea to push for a plan which results in the loss of a car lane or a parking lane downtown; this will result in backlash which could impact other, more worthy, bicycle projects in the future.
As a cyclist and a driver, I ask you not to support a move which would install bicycle lanes on Guadalupe and Lavaca.
Thanks for your time,
Meeting about resolving the issue of bike lanes on Guadalupe & Lavaca
by , May 14, 2003
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I've tried without success to get local groups to add their events to this calendar (Bike Texas, the Yellow Bike Project, City's Bicycle Program, Bike Austin, etc.)
If you'd like to help edit the calendar, or at least add your group's events to it, then please let me know!
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