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#1 2009-10-28 13:36:04

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Speedway bike boxes

The bike box treatment underway at Speedway/38th is making me nervous – the first steps appear to have been to extend the bike lanes on the "downstream" side of 38th all the way back to the intersection. This seems dumb to me; intuitively one of the primary benefits of the bike box was going to be to allow cyclists to proceed through the intersection first, ahead of the motorists/buses, to the point where the bike lane picked back up (past the left turn lane, i.e.).

Now, there's kind of no point – barring right-turning vehicles who don't behave, there's no real reason for the bike box at all – the bike lane doesn't even have the gap.

('downstream' is the side heading away from the intersection, i.e. the side across 38th from the bike box).

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#2 2009-10-29 09:58:09

damicoaustin
Member
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 143
Website

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I'll have to check this out....but if anyone is out and can snap a photo, that would be good for everyone to look at.

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#3 2009-10-29 15:48:09

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 290

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I took some photos about an hour ago.  They can be found on my Flickr account:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomwald/se … 566362029/
To be clear, there are no bike boxes painted yet.  The bike lanes on Speedway leading toward and away from 38th St. are relatively new (last couple of months).

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#4 2009-10-30 07:51:05

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Speedway bike boxes

Your flickr page is private. And the bike lanes were restriped within the last week or two. (I live right around the corner from there). It strains credibility to imply that said restriping wasn't part of the bike box project.

Last edited by m1ek (2009-10-30 07:51:42)

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#5 2009-10-30 12:38:19

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 290

Re: Speedway bike boxes

Thanks for letting me know the photos were still set to private.  An e-mail to me will do next time.

I took the photos yesterday, as stated in my post.

I am trying to understand whose credibility is being strained.  I did not imply that the new bike lanes are not part of the bike box project.  However, they are clearly not bike boxes, but are bike lanes.  I suggested that they are likely part of the bike box project by pointing out that the extensions of the bike lanes are relatively new.

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#6 2009-11-02 08:52:07

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Speedway bike boxes

Since I'm doing this from the web forum, and there isn't an obvious link, I posted instead of emailing you privately or spending more work time trying to locate your email address. Apologies for that. Only now do I see I could have clicked on your name and sent email from the profile.

I had already said they were painted in the last week or two; you then expanded it to "last couple of months". In case you didn't realize it, I live right around the corner from this intersection and drive through it multiple times a day.

The tone of your reply seemed to imply that you were doubting that the bike lane repainting was in preparation for the bike box work. I'd put it at 99% certainty that this restriping (including narrowing the other lanes at the intersection approach) was done for the bike box project.

Last edited by m1ek (2009-11-02 08:53:28)

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#7 2009-11-02 11:15:41

damicoaustin
Member
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 143
Website

Re: Speedway bike boxes

All I know is this isn't a bike box right now. I have the list of where everything goes...but it's on my computer and I be on the road! Someone should just email Annick and find out.

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#8 2009-11-02 16:31:40

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Speedway bike boxes

The issue is that the treatment of the new bike lanes makes the bike box redundant. The whole point is to give cyclists a line-up space to get ahead of traffic and then move over into the bike lane, right? If the bike lane now continues through the intersection (doesn't stop and then start up after the left-turn cut-out ends), it's kind of a waste and not a valid test of the concept - because the new bike lane stripes that are there now would also allow cyclists to proceed without interference from motorist traffic.

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#9 2009-11-02 16:38:20

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 290

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I definitely see your point, Mike.

My behavior at Speedway & 38th until a couple of weeks ago was to ride the middle of the lane approaching and leaving the intersection.  Most motorists (say about 3/4ths) would get very irritated and harass me with me staying in the middle of the lane until the bike lane began.  They would tailgate or pass too closely or drive toward oncoming traffic.  Others waited at a reasonable distance or passed at a safe distance when no other traffic was oncoming, though passing me meant crossing the double-yellow line and often passing while in the intersection.  (Shuttle bus drivers did not harass me.)  Now I generally use the bike lane on both sides of the intersection.

I, or someone else, will look into what the intention of the new striping is at this intersection.

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#10 2009-11-08 18:51:17

timdiller
Member
Registered: 2008-09-28
Posts: 14

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I saw the bike box installed today and snapped a photo, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/23044147@N03/?saved=1

Last edited by timdiller (2009-11-08 18:51:44)

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#11 2009-11-09 08:43:54

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Speedway bike boxes

This morning, cars lined up to go straight through on Speedway in both directions were lined up well into the 'bike box' (which is shorter than I imagined it would be, and not colored at all). If this is going to be any kind of worthwhile test, the following items are needed at a minimum:

1. Colored paint for the bike box.

2. "Stop HERE on Red" signs pointing to the big thick line.

The bike boxes appear to me to be insufficiently long - but I was driving, and there were no cyclists lined up to tell for sure this morning.

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#12 2009-11-09 13:53:47

NadiaB
Member
Registered: 2009-06-11
Posts: 68

Re: Speedway bike boxes

All,
We encourage you to continue to comment on this forum.  However, it would be more helpful if you would send your comments and observations to:  [ City's Bicycle Program website ].  This will allow us to send them directly on to the Center of Transportation Research for their consideration and review during the analysis of the design.

Thanks,
nb

Edit: Email addresses not allowed as per forum rules, because spambots pick them up.  Replaced email addresses with City's Bicycle Program website, which has a contact form (in a non-spammable format).

Last edited by MichaelBluejay (2009-11-09 20:15:01)

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#13 2009-11-10 11:17:38

timdiller
Member
Registered: 2008-09-28
Posts: 14

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I feel pretty certain that most motorists don't know what to do with the bike box. The signage doesn't make it clear.
In my personal experience, most motorists are content to wait behind a cyclist who is preventing them from turning right on red. I usually try to be sensitive to this and stay to left so that they can get by if needed, but sometimes they'll honk at me to get me to move over, and I find that really irritating. There are places where I want a car waiting with me to trigger the light signal. Guadalupe northbound at Koenig is a good example of a sensor that won't change the light for a solo bike, so I usually block the lane so that a car will wait with me and trigger the sensor.
What would be a good way to label the box to let motorists know that a bike is legit at the front of a stoplight line? "Bikes wait here" inside the box? "Wait here on red" on a sign pointing to the line?
BTW, I'm cross posting to the city's feedback site.

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#14 2009-11-10 12:02:51

jmysl
Member
Registered: 2009-11-10
Posts: 1

Re: Speedway bike boxes

It makes turning left easier!

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#15 2009-11-11 08:47:45

jitneyjamie
Member
Registered: 2009-07-10
Posts: 3

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I'm a little surprised that right turns on red are allowed at all at bike boxes. As Allan said,
"One scenario where this could cause issues: Say a car gets to an intersection and is going to turn right, but forgets (or chooses not) to use their signal (which happens A LOT, I think we can all agree on that). They turn their head to the left to watch traffic. While their head is to the left, a bike comes up to the right of the car and plans on going straight through the intersection. There is no opening for the car to turn right when the light is red, and then the light turns green, and the car tries to turn while the cyclist goes straight. Collision. This is just one scenario, there are plenty others."

Well, what's to stop that car from looking to the left for a gap and then making that right turn on red? What are the chances they looked back to their right mirror/window for a bike approaching the bike box on their right?

I see the need for the "STOP HERE ON RED" sign but it doesn't seem to me that it does any good without a "NO TURN ON RED" as well? It's kinda like that new pedestrian signal at the Triangle. Are people supposed to stop and then proceed or wait for the signal to revert back to flashing yellow? I'm a traffic engineer and even I can't figure it out! It is a scary place to cross and I see these bike boxes setting themselves up for the same dangerous unpredictability.

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#16 2009-11-12 17:20:57

bizikletari
Member
Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

Re: Speedway bike boxes

Has anyone written to the CoA as suggested by Nadia?

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#17 2009-11-12 18:04:36

mbmuller
Member
Registered: 2009-11-12
Posts: 8

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I just did - thanks for the prompting.

My problems with the bike boxes echo what I have seen here - too short and too ambigous for motorists.  My other problem is that the real issue with this intersection is that the road condition is horrid.  As long as that is true, cyclists will go every which way.  If only the city would repave Speedway from 38th to 45th.  Considering the number of cyclists that ride on Speedway everyday, that would be high on the list of cyclist friendly things the city could do.

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#18 2009-11-13 17:46:37

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I will do so now, but reluctantly; it's better if this kind of discussion be in public so it's clear to the public whether anything actually happens or the input is just ignored.

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#19 2009-12-04 12:01:14

mbmuller
Member
Registered: 2009-11-12
Posts: 8

Re: Speedway bike boxes

jitneyjamie wrote:

I'm a little surprised that right turns on red are allowed at all at bike boxes. As Allan said,
"One scenario where this could cause issues: Say a car gets to an intersection and is going to turn right, but forgets (or chooses not) to use their signal (which happens A LOT, I think we can all agree on that). They turn their head to the left to watch traffic. While their head is to the left, a bike comes up to the right of the car and plans on going straight through the intersection. There is no opening for the car to turn right when the light is red, and then the light turns green, and the car tries to turn while the cyclist goes straight. Collision. This is just one scenario, there are plenty others."

Well, what's to stop that car from looking to the left for a gap and then making that right turn on red? What are the chances they looked back to their right mirror/window for a bike approaching the bike box on their right?

I see the need for the "STOP HERE ON RED" sign but it doesn't seem to me that it does any good without a "NO TURN ON RED" as well? It's kinda like that new pedestrian signal at the Triangle. Are people supposed to stop and then proceed or wait for the signal to revert back to flashing yellow? I'm a traffic engineer and even I can't figure it out! It is a scary place to cross and I see these bike boxes setting themselves up for the same dangerous unpredictability.

I am not sure exactly when it happened, but there are now "no turn on red" signs on both northbound and southbound speedway.  They have been there for at least a few weeks.  Of course, some drivers ignore them, but overall compliance with the no turn on red signs and the wait here markers seems reasonably decent to me.

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#20 2010-01-27 12:29:04

mbmuller
Member
Registered: 2009-11-12
Posts: 8

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I ride through this intersection twice a day, and have been doing so since well before the bike boxes where created.  Now that they have been there for a while, this is what I have noticed.

1)  Most of motor vehicles respect the "wait here" line on the road.  Note that I said most, not all.

2)  Most of the motor vehicles respect the "no right turn on red" sign.

3)  Most cyclist stay on the right (ie, in the bike lane), but pull up ahead of the cars.

4)  Very few cyclist actually pull into the bike box - ie, pull up ahead of the cars, and over the to left so as to be directly in front of the cars.

5)  If there is no car at the light, I pull up in the center of the bike box.  If there is a car at the light, I rarely pull up into the bike box - I just pull up to the head of the bike lane.  The bike box is too short to pull over the the left and ahead of the cars without some awkwardness.  Before the change, I always merged into traffic as the bike lane ended, putting me where the bike box is if I got to the light before any cars, and interspered with cars otherwise.  I was in the minority of cyclists that did this.

Overall I have mixed feelings about the change.  I like having the bike lane go all the way up instead of ending short of the intersection and the banning of turning right on red.  I don't find the bike box itself very useful due to its short length.  I don't think very many cyclist realize that they are supposed to pull up directly in front of motor vehicles waiting at the light.  I hope the city didn't spend very much money on this project.

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#21 2010-03-12 18:57:16

mbmuller
Member
Registered: 2009-11-12
Posts: 8

Re: Speedway bike boxes

A change in the speedway bike boxes:  they have been painted green.  The change happened on Thursday.  They certainly are visible now, and it is painfully obvious that they are too short.

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#22 2013-11-06 18:53:33

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 329

Re: Speedway bike boxes

bike boxes are not such a good idea to begin with.  "Now a letter from the City of Portland is conceding that car-bike crashes have increased at some of the intersections where bike boxes were installed."  http://john-s-allen.com/blog/?cat=21    http://john-s-allen.com/blog/?attachment_id=72  Even the better European boxes aren't ideal.

"The other rationale for a bike box is to encourage more people to ride bicycles by increasing comfort. I find this rationale very scary when the supposedly comfortable facility includes a deathtrap. I call this the “Pied Piper” approach to bicycle planning. It involves some convoluted thinking — bicyclists fear motorists, so, build facilities which appear less scary to the bicyclists.

"A bike box with a pre-green signal interval (red and yellow in European practice) provides a warning for a bicyclist not to overtake and swerve in front of the first motor vehicle waiting at the intersection as the light turns green. He/she can still get stuck waiting for through traffic to clear, and the signal to turn red, then green again, if the intention using the bike box was to prepare a left turn (as with a Vancouver, BC bike box and some in New York City) or to cross to the other side of a one-way street (as with a bike box in Eugene, Oregon).

"Motorists waiting behind a bike box without the pre-green are expected to look for bicyclists in their right rear-view mirror while also scanning the intersection ahead. That increases the likelihood of mistakes in both tasks, but also, the right rear-view mirror doesn’t provide complete coverage of the area where a bicyclist may be, particularly for the driver of a truck or bus with a high cab and a hood. If the motorist doesn’t look into the mirror at the right time, the bicyclist may have passed outside the field of view seen in the mirror. That is the rationale for additional mirrors, beepers, bicyclist-presence actuated flashers etc. that have been proposed to warn motorists of bicyclists overtaking on the right, and warn bicyclists of motorists preparing to turn right — none of which measures have been implemented in practice and all of which are technological solutions, with the attendant problems of implementation rollout and reliability."

Last edited by Jack (2013-11-06 19:02:20)

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#23 2013-12-03 16:19:44

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 329

Re: Speedway bike boxes

More on Austin bike boxes:   http://john-s-allen.com/blog/?p=4317

after a lot of useful commentary there on the particulars of Austin's bike box study, the entry also provides the following broad take:

But with the bike box, government is in the unusual position of promoting actions contrary to its own laws. There is further dissonance in that — at the Speedway at 38th installation in any case — many if not most of the bicyclists are students at the same institution which employs the researchers who wrote this report.

The attempt is, then, being made by parts of government to overturn its own laws by promotion of roadway facilities which require unlawful operation, and which regard bicyclists no longer as vehicle operators, but instead as helpless and defenseless — capable only of following a designated route on the roadway, and of obeying traffic signals. Correspondingly, motorists are being asked to look out for bicyclists who are operating in ways contrary to the standard expectations of operation on the roadway according to the traffic law, and in some cases motorists are being asked to perform impossible tasks.

Bicycling advocacy of this type may also be seen as an attempt at a fait accompli, where the laws no longer can function given what has been installed, and as an attempt to build a constituency for a different paradigm by increasing the bicycle mode share.

The students at the University of Texas are young adults. They all are familiar with the rules of the road from riding in motor vehicles, and most hold driver’s license. On the other hand, without an educational effort, this knowledge does not transfer to their bicycling; typically, college students are either edge riders or don’t believe that bicyclists have to follow any rules of the road. They do not see themselves as drivers. Ironically, though, the student would be a captive audience for any serious attempt by the University to educate them in how to ride their bicycles safely.

The paradigm of bicyclists’ overtaking on the right, and of motorists’ having to look back on their right side before turning right, is deeply ingrained in northern Europe. It has existed since motor vehicles were rare, it is ensconced in law, and it is supported by strict motorist licensing and enforcement. Bike boxes are more recent in Europe, but they are often described as a way to legitimize edge behavior that already occurs with bike lanes: bicyclists’ filtering forward past stopped traffic and overtaking the first motor vehicle waiting at a traffic light. Safety benefits are claimed — in comparison with illegal filtering forward past the stop line when there is no bike box, rather than in comparison with obeying rules of the road for vehicular operation. Bicyclist crash rates in northern European cities are low, but fatal crashes show a predominance of right-hooks in which bicyclists are run over by large trucks, consistent with edge behavior, and with cyclists’ having no concept that they could actively prevent these collisions.

There are historical examples of traffic law paradigm changes. The most dramatic have been the changes from driving on the left to driving on the right in Sweden and Canada. These changes were all undertaken at once, overnight. Changes in law were put in place before those in infrastructure, and bolstered by education campaigns to reach the entire population. What we see instead here is a campaign that chips away at American traffic law and traffic patterns piecemeal, by introducing bits and pieces of European practice in a few places, (only two intersections in Austin), lacking European engineering measures, with no attention to the law and no education campaign, and in a background of motor vehicles’ dominance in the traffic mix. Failure is to be expected.

Aside from this, a paradigm which increases the number of classes of travelers following different sets of rules is bound to increase delay for one class or another, and to promote scofflaw behavior to avoid those delays, unless it has achieved nearly universal acceptance. The results of this study show an adverse outcome, particularly as regards motorists’ behavior. Considering bicyclists as victims, so that everyone except themselves is to look out for their safety, is appropriate for children, but it leads to a culture of arrested development by some, and of scofflaw behavior by others who are impatient with living with the inconvenience of children’s rules.

All in all, the Austin study demonstrates failure from an operational standpoint, but it has very little to say about safety, because no actual data on crashes, or even conflicts, was collected. Some data on conflicts might be retrieved from the video data, but data on crashes would require a much larger study.

Other critiques

There is a critique of the Austin report from Austin cyclist Tim Scarry online; also one by Portland, Maine cyclist John Brooking.
[links provided for each at the blog page]

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#24 2013-12-03 16:57:18

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 329

Re: Speedway bike boxes

Portland finds bike boxes result in more crashes, principally right hooks:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-_Kv2G … edit?pli=1 

  http://www.portlandmercury.com/Blogtown … se-crashes

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#25 2013-12-03 20:33:06

btrettel
Member
Registered: 2013-10-01
Posts: 60

Re: Speedway bike boxes

I go through this intersection daily. Interesting report. Since then, the north bike box has been essentially removed. Not sure why, but it looks like some pipes under it were accessed and the city never bothered to paint the bike box on again. Perhaps the city decided it was worthless.

The south bike box is basically useless. I'm the only cyclist I'm aware of who'll actually use it. Taking the center of the lane at the intersection seems to annoy some drivers who want to turn right. Not that I get to do that so often, given that most drivers stop in the bike box.

Last edited by btrettel (2013-12-04 21:28:44)

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