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#1 2008-05-28 10:40:59

Adriel
Member
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 91

Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

Reposted from my blog at http://austincyclenews.com/

Bike lanes, when they are 3 feet wide they are worse than useless, when I ride in the road stupid drivers cant understand why I am not in the bike lane. When they are 6′ wide I wonder why they are even necessary. Just mark big shared use stencils in the right hand lane of every roadway.   

301584794_84673b94a0.jpg?v=0

This is a good example.

It seems all we need are a bunch of paint and maybe some signs. Something that says "Cyclists belong here". In my opinion we do not need much more pavement. The roads are great. Just tell the damn cars that bikes belong.

Last edited by Adriel (2008-05-28 10:42:07)

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#2 2008-05-29 00:40:19

RonB
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Registered: 2008-05-28
Posts: 20

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

I am kind of curious why you are against bike lanes.  I mean, I get your stance that bikes and cars should co-exist peacefully (as do I), however I think bike lanes are a good medium in which for bikes to have their area and feel relatively safe.  For me 3' is plenty of room.

Now granted, your idea is more of an idea where bikes and cars share the road without having to segregate, but I think that needs a lot more education on the part of drivers, that I don't feel we are ready for ... YET.

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#3 2008-05-29 09:00:02

Adriel
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Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 91

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

Because in a 3' bike lane, cars get within inches of me.  And I really do not feel comfortable going 25mph in a 3' space, with cars whizzing by me.  If
I hit any kind of obstacle, or obstruction I could easily die.  If I am going 10-12mph, 3' is fine.

Also, people park in bike lanes, and they would not park in the road.

Also, street sweepers often neglect bike lanes, or worse, all of the crap they sweep gets put in the bike lane.

I guess bike lanes are good for people learning how to ride in traffic, but if i choose for my safety not to ride in one, cars get indignant, more so than they would if there was no bike lane.  And courteous cars are scary enough, indignant drivers are just plain terrifying.

Last edited by Adriel (2008-05-29 09:03:18)

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#4 2008-05-30 16:50:03

seth
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From: Austin, TX (Hyde Park)
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 53
Website

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

I am in support of any and all solutions to increasing driver awareness of cyclists' right to the road. Sharrows helps achieve this, but I fear that on roads without the markings, drivers will intrpret the absence of the bike logo gives them ownership of the road.

I just measured the bike lane width on Duval. From left edge of the stripe to curb, the bike lane is six feet wide. I agree that a three-foot bike lane is too narrow, but those don't seem to be the norm.

Parallel to this discussion, it would be nice if we could get some ad-council billboard advertising that would educate drivers about bicyclists' right to the road.


Seth

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#5 2008-05-31 13:35:38

Adriel
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Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 91

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

The curb doesn't really count.  I doubt that jollyville is 6' even if you counted the curb.  Probably 4' counting the curb and 3' without.

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#6 2008-05-31 16:47:18

tomwald
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From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

My bike is about 2.5 feet wide, so a three-foot bike lane gives me three inches of clearance on each side.  A one-foot bike lane (W 29th St, Barton Springs Rd) leaves enough room for my tires, but my bicycle spills over in the next travel lane over.

Two-and-a-half feet is a common assumed width for a bicycle in planning road widths.

Bicycle lanes are measured from the left stripe (edge or center of stripe?) to the seam between the asphalt and the cement gutter, i.e., it does not include the storm drain gutter.

-Tom

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#7 2008-06-03 10:18:08

m1ek
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Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

While 29th has some ridiculous painted shoulders (not even technically bike lanes, if I remember correctly), Barton Springs' are much wider than one foot. They're the suboptimal "4 feet including curb apron" type, which is the smallest the city will allow to be striped these days.

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#8 2008-06-03 14:43:40

tomwald
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From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

Hey Mike, thanks for being so cordial.  (sincerely)

For measuring bike lanes, I'm using the standard that Annick Beaudet has said she uses.  It's also the standard that is used in Minneapolis, as I understand.  That standard considers the outer boundary of the bike lane to be where the main road surface (usually asphalt) meets the gutter material (usually cement).  I'm not sure how the inner boundary is measured -- center of stripe?  I was measuring to the outer-road edge of the stripe (narrowest measurement).

The extremely narrow 29th St. bike lanes that I was referring to are the ones between Rio Grande St. and Lamar Blvd.  I'll have to go there with a ruler to be 100% sure, but those seem to be under two feet wide, often closer to one-foot- than two-feet-wide.
I think this stretch of 29th St. would be a prime place for sharrows -- bike route, sub-standard bike lanes, lack of good alternative routes, narrow total right-of-way, high-traffic, and its short length.

The Barton Springs Rd. lanes between Lamar Blvd. and Robert E. Lee Rd.  Those are often less than two feet in width, closer to one foot -- often enough that it's reasonable to refer to that as the width of the bike lane there.  Again, I'll have to go out there with a ruler to be 100% sure.  I want to do that sometime, so perhaps I should carry a ruler and camera around.
This would a good stretch for sharrows too, but because this stretch is longer than the aforementioned 29th St segment, it may be less acceptable for bicyclists to take a whole lane here.

I'm pretty sure that CoA's current standards for striping bike lanes are *wider* than "4 feet including curb apron", but I'll look into it.

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#9 2008-06-03 16:13:57

m1ek
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Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

I was pointing out that I'm not sure the 'facility' on 29th is even signed/marked as a bike lane, not that I disagreed about its width.

The Barton Springs lanes are the bare minimum usable under AASHTO, if I remember correctly, and your method of measurement is not the one that was used back when I was on the UTC - it was stripe to curb (no, you don't want to put your tire on the curb, obviously, but it does give you space to your right for half your body).

When you claim these lanes are only 2 feet wide, most people are thinking that you have 2 feet from line to curb -- i.e., 2 feet to fit your body into. That's obviously not the case.

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#10 2008-06-03 19:33:16

Adriel
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Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 91

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

When I ride on Barton springs I will usually take the lane unless it is rush hour, that lane is too narrow to safely ride at any speed over 10mph.   And if I am riding with someone it does not give me enough room to ride 2 abreast.  If the road is not busy, there is a whole other lane for cars to pass me in, and they need to expect it.  When I drive on that road I try to stay in the left lane, because I do not feel safe passing a cyclist that close.   (Safe in the "Make sure I do not hit a cyclist" sense, I am sure I would survive the collision).

One other point for sharrows vs bike lanes:  If a road can be converted from a 2 lane road to a 4 lane, it makes more sense to make the outer lanes mixed use, than make the right lane a bike lane (Or worse, make a 4 lane road and a bike lane with everything too narrow.)  Right now there are not enough cyclists on the road to warrant spending a ton of money for exclusive road access.  I don't want exclusive access, I want my right to go somewhere on a bike, and my right to use any roadway that is not a highway, to be acknowledged, and upheld.

I legally have the right to use highways also, but I only exercise that right when it saves me a lot of time because the city has not left me a decent alternate route.

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#11 2008-06-06 23:33:20

Kelly Oden
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Registered: 2008-06-06
Posts: 3

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

So my tires have a contact patch of about a dime size and you are worried about a narrow bike lane.  It seems to me that any bike lane paint on the street is better than none.  I ride two abrest in the bike lane and We dont seem to have many problems with traffic...Guadalupe (north of 51st) does not have good bike lanes but people seem to respect them.   The narrow lanes nort of 51st are better than the lack of bike lanes south of 45th!!!

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#12 2008-06-07 04:24:30

tomwald
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From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

m1ek wrote:

I was pointing out that I'm not sure the 'facility' on 29th is even signed/marked as a bike lane, not that I disagreed about its width.

The Barton Springs lanes are the bare minimum usable under AASHTO, if I remember correctly, and your method of measurement is not the one that was used back when I was on the UTC - it was stripe to curb (no, you don't want to put your tire on the curb, obviously, but it does give you space to your right for half your body).

When you claim these lanes are only 2 feet wide, most people are thinking that you have 2 feet from line to curb -- i.e., 2 feet to fit your body into. That's obviously not the case.

That section of 29th St. is painted (with the bike stencils likely very faded) as a bike lane and it is specified as a _green_ section of bike route (possibly #40) on the City of Austin Bike Map.  I'm not sure about signs there.

I wasn't attempting to mislead anyone on the width of bike lanes (not saying that you said I was), but I was intending to state what I interpret to be a reasonable standard.  I was combining many things that I've heard over the years, and I think my measurement standards would coincide with various others... but I'm really not an expert-expert-expert on this, so I appreciate second opinions.

I was using the assertive standard that I've heard used by Annick Beaudet (Bicycle Project Manager for the City of Austin Public Works Bicycle and Pedestrian Program), matched with what I've heard from various experts over the years, whose names I cannot remember (in Austin, Texas, and Minneapolis).  I've heard this sort of standard for over ten years from transportation experts, professional and extreme hobbyists....  I'm just explaining why I use it.

From this source and this source, the suggestion is that AASHTO specifies a minimum of 4 feet for a bike lane.  I don't believe this to be a definitive claim -- I think someone with a current edition of the book should probably speak up for what the AASHTO standards are.

There is a project in Minneapolis that was built in the mid- to late-1990's on University Ave. SE that makes some use of what is often considered wasted space -- the cement gutter.  The bike lanes on that street were built as cement.  There is no seam (between the cement and the asphalt) within the bike lane, rather the seam divides the bike lane and the right-most regular traffic lane.  The cement was made to standards that are attempting to preclude the issue of lateral seam problems, i.e., a bump for every lateral seam.  The surface material difference also accentuates the use difference between the bike lane and the regular-width traffic lane.  Also, by using the gutter, some lateral space is put to use that would otherwise be considered as only non-traffic drainage use.

Another example in Minneapolis is on the Chain of Lakes where a single lane, one-way street was to be re-built.  On the edge of the road, a bike lane was added, but no curb was put in.  This allowed a narrower bike lane than had there been a curb.  While a curb offers a drainage path and a buffer between motor vehicles and off-street traffic, I think each of these functions were provided for -- the grass provided adequate runoff drainage and the bike lane plus grass boulevard provided the buffer.

------

I see that people are bringing up both sides of the bike lane debate.  I guess the important thing to remember is that the bike lane is painted or not painted there regardless of what any one person prefers, so the best thing to do is to find a compromise or come to some other sort of resolution.  I've lived with and without bike lanes.  I've just grown to the point that I ride in what I find to be the safe part of the road, wherever that may be.

I avoid roads where the safe part and clearly legal part are not the same.

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#13 2008-06-07 10:10:04

Adriel
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Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 91

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

Kelly Oden wrote:

So my tires have a contact patch of about a dime size and you are worried about a narrow bike lane.  It seems to me that any bike lane paint on the street is better than none.  I ride two abrest in the bike lane and We dont seem to have many problems with traffic...Guadalupe (north of 51st) does not have good bike lanes but people seem to respect them.   The narrow lanes nort of 51st are better than the lack of bike lanes south of 45th!!!

That narrow road is great until one of two things happens:

1) some form of obstruction forces you to avoid it and you have to suddenly move into the car lane.  If there is a car there you may end up a statistic.

2) a car sways just slightly to the right while you are minding your own business (Maybe he dropped his sandwich, and had to pick it up)  The tolerance for that is too small.  And again you will end up a statistic.

I want 3' of safety buffer on EACH side of me.  so if I am 2.5' wide as people have said that means I need a 8.5' space to feel truly safe, 6' is an acceptable compromise, but anything less is a threat to my safety.

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#14 2008-06-07 17:53:49

pwhallmark
Member
From: NW Austin
Registered: 2008-05-31
Posts: 13

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

Adriel wrote:

I want 3' of safety buffer on EACH side of me.  so if I am 2.5' wide as people have said that means I need a 8.5' space to feel truly safe, 6' is an acceptable compromise, but anything less is a threat to my safety.

Don't forget, you can control the lane and have all the safety you desire. If the lane is too narrow to safely share, you are completely within the law and your rights to "take the lane". This gets easier and less stressful with practice. I also recommend a rear-view mirror as a great help in controlling your situation on the road. Once you are sure that the car(s) behind you have seen you and have slowed down, you can move to the right and let them pass - on YOUR terms. Check out a League of American Bicyclists "Road I" course to learn the ropes. Thanks to Preston Tyree, Austin has perhaps one of the most active cyclist education programs in the country.

Regards,
Phil Hallmark

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#15 2008-06-08 10:53:19

Adriel
Member
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 91

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

That is what I currently do.  Thus my original post for removing any bicycle lanes less than 6' wide and replacing them with sharrows.  That way I don't have to deal with indignant drivers who do not know the law.

Last edited by Adriel (2008-06-08 10:53:46)

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#16 2009-04-03 17:49:41

chrispy
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2009-04-03
Posts: 5
Website

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

Kelly Oden wrote:

So my tires have a contact patch of about a dime size and you are worried about a narrow bike lane.  It seems to me that any bike lane paint on the street is better than none.  I ride two abrest in the bike lane and We dont seem to have many problems with traffic...Guadalupe (north of 51st) does not have good bike lanes but people seem to respect them.   The narrow lanes nort of 51st are better than the lack of bike lanes south of 45th!!!

I don't understand why people think a paint stripe is such a wonderful thing.  A thin layer of paint offers no protection at all from two tons of steel.  What it does is provide an area to accumulate gravel, glass, nails, screws, etc., as well as condition car drivers to think that "cyclists belong in the bike lane."

Then, to make it even worse, you get follies like the two-way bike lane on Shoal Creek (boy, I want a closing speed of 40-50mph with another cyclist only a foot away, with that northbound cyclist "enjoying" a closing speed of as much as 60mph with oncoming cars), and bike lanes striped right up against parallel parking areas, encouraging bikes to ride in the door zone.

The bikeway from Stephen F. Austin headed east is the right way to do it, if you want a real, separate facility from the roadway.  It's hard to do that in existing neighborhoods, though.

I think that a better alternative to bike lanes is promoting sharing, either via "sharrows" or signage, and PSAs.  I also think that PSAs for sharing the road will be better received if the same people also issue PSAs encouraging cyclists to obey red lights and not blow through stop signs like they weren't there.  You have to till the soil before you can plant seeds, after all.

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#17 2009-04-03 22:15:42

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 553

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

A bike lane provides an area to ride where you should never be rear ended (yes, I know, being rear-ended is a rare accident, but it's high on the list of cyclist's fears, and when it does happen it's often fatal) and an area where you never have to worry about slowing car traffic because you're not fast enough.  And yes, I'm aware that you can still be rear-ended there, but it's even less your fault (so they can put that on your tombstone.)

I'm aware of the arguments for and against them, and both sides have merit.  I can't really say one side is right and one side isn't.  That said, when I've got a wide bike lane in good condition and don't have to worry about traffic crossing it, I like it.  If the traffic is slow I care less, but if it's high speed I find the bike lane to be very nice compared to taking the lane.  Of course, as you said, they're often too narrow, full of debris or broken concrete and have cars parked in them.

Last edited by dougmc (2009-04-03 22:16:21)

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#18 2009-04-06 10:47:13

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

Re: Bike Lanes Vs Sharrows

A wide curb lane accumulates just about as much debris as a good bike lane does - and the wide curb lane is more likely to allow parking, preventing effective street sweeping (how sad is it that I even have to say "more likely", instead of "bike lanes don't allow parking at all"?)

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