Tuesday, June 1

Bike Lane Teaching

Designated Bike Lane Along North Tarrant Parkway
North Richland Hills, Texas
The Bike Lane is Worse, In Reality, Than it Appears
In the Photo. The Debris has Since Been Replaced With
Construction. Should I Not Tell People How to Deal With This When I Know How?
I received an email, from a very savvy reader, who inquired about how I would teach students about bike lanes. This reader attached what appeared to be a policy statement on the subject. I confirmed his attachment IS a LAB document and it may be found here. Unfortunately, the document really doesn’t explain what to instruct cycling students to do when they encounter specific bike lane situations, in accordance with sound traffic operating principles. It’s all very nice and good to want motorists better educated and to know that problems can be worked around, but I think I’ll be dealing with the other portion of the traffic equation – the cyclist who cannot count on superior motorist education or maybe even enlightened local officials. While I might quibble with some details, the document, in one fundamental regard, is COMPLETELY ON TARGET – namely that to ignore and disparage the continuing and growing presence of bike lanes to the general (mostly ignorant) public really IS to court irrelevance. Like them or loathe them, since there WILL be bike lanes, and since some places they might be mandatory, it would do cyclists a disservice to not instruct about sound techniques in using them. A cyclist should be able to operate safely either with or without bike lanes, and an instructor’s job is to tell the student how to accomplish that objective. I have done a few bike and bus lane posts on this blog, collected here, and what I said is completely consistent with that document.

So, in response to the email, THIS is what I’d teach students. Keep in mind that I have not gone through the LCI seminar yet and so it’s entirely possible that added learning will creep into my pea brain. Also keep in mind that I don’t really do a lot of MUP or bike path riding, but I’ve done enough.

Bike lanes are put in place for a variety of reasons by municipalities, just as are other special purpose lanes such as bus and HOV lanes. Some of these bike lanes are much better than others. If you are lucky, there will only be the best ones along your route, but most of us live in the real world. Just as for other road situations, there are actions you can take while riding in bike lanes in order to be safer.

Fundamentally, a bike lane is another lane on the road, with some special rules and restrictions. As a cyclist, your proper action is to use it as such, and to use it within the guiding context of “use the rightmost lane that serves your intended destination.” Bike League instruction policy specifically indicates that a cyclist should always be able to move out of a bike lane for safety reasons. In this case, I’ll take the Bike League’s guidance over the misbegotten notion that these things should be mandatory. This statement of policy is a principle that cannot be compromised when it comes to riding. Safety is just too dependent on circumstances. As a cyclist, the narrowness of a bike lane, its placement on the road, and its exclusive bike provision all create risks that you must deal with in order to remain safe.

Let me repeat that Bike League Policy Statement again:
"Cyclists should always have the right to leave the bike lane if their safety

is threatened due to surface conditions, obstructions, and dangers such as
opening car doors. This has always been, and remains, a core principle of
the League."
Yup, I can certainly agree with that. What's more, I'll exercise that right anytime I need to do so in order to protect my safety, because I have a very low pain threshold.
First, if the bike lane is adjacent to parked cars, you should ride in such a manner that a door will not hit you if it is unexpectedly opened. Duh. The door on some two-door coupes will open nearly four feet, so you might want to avoid riding that close to parked cars. I’ve seen many news stories about thoughtless people opening a door and the cyclist going “smack!” The collision is bad enough, but it is all too often followed by the stunned cyclist falling into the traffic lane right before a bus comes along, creating a fatality. For some reason, these “door zone” fatality stories seem to come out of Boston more than anyplace else. Anyway, the smart approach is to ride out of the door zone, just as you would if riding in any other lane. If you can reach out and nearly touch car mirrors, you are TOO CLOSE to those cars. If, by following this advice, you are outside the bike lane, it was poorly designed anyway.

Second, at intersections, a conflict will often exist. Specifically, there may be a “right turn only” lane to the left of the bike lane or other hazardous situations that put the cyclist at risk of a “right hook.” While motorists have a due care responsibility, they can easily become confused in the presence of bike lanes. As a cyclist, you would be foolish to make your safety dependent on a motorist’s due care understanding, or even on a traffic engineer’s ability to clarify things. What’s more, since the bike lane often encourages the cyclist to pass to the right of traffic, the right hook can occur due to a motorist turning right while completely unaware a cyclist is to his right. THESE stories seem to come out of Portland and invariably involve dump trucks squashing cyclists that stopped to their right. The smart, defensive cyclist should take charge! Whether there is a likely “right hook” trap or NOT, the savvy cyclist should do a head check to assess the traffic situation behind and to his left. If you know where the other traffic is and the ways it can operate, you are halfway towards being safe.

If advisable, abandon the bike lane in advance of the intersection, to avoid falling afoul of motoring crossing and turning movements. Well designed bike lanes are dashed as they come up to major intersections to encourage this sort of cyclist behavior. Similarly, if you are going to make a left turn, abandon the bike lane and move into the rightmost left turn lane. Basically, “use the rightmost lane that serves your intended destination.” The key to doing all this safely is to communicate your intentions to your fellow road users before executing movements, and BE PREDICTABLE. In the mind of most motorists, a predictable cyclist is a welcome novelty and they will watch you very patiently as you operate to where you want to go.

Keep in mind that, at intersections, if the bike lane is at the right side of the road, you should be extra cautious about oncoming traffic, as well as traffic crossing from your right. You are NOT in the primary attention field of oncoming motorists so there may be an increased risk of a “left hook.” Watch and be aware! Whether bike lane or regular lane, the cyclist should never forget that he has a LOT more experience dealing with motorists than the motorist has dealing with cyclists. The good news (well, not actually all THAT good) is that intersections are places people get hit and it isn’t a problem limited to cyclists, or bike lanes.

There IS one regard in which Bike League education policy about bike lanes falls short – maintenance around bike lanes. Regardless of why debris is in a lane, it may be encountered by a cyclist using a bike lane and that cyclist must deal with it, just as on any road surface. When encountering a debris-filled bike lane area, the correct action is to move left onto clear road surface and call to inform the traffic department of the hazardous situation on their roadway (don’t do both of these actions at the same time). And DO call, so that the situation is either corrected or at least put on the record! In this regard, debris is no different than a pothole, drain grate, or other obstruction (including a slower cyclist) that may be encountered on a daily basis. If 500 cyclists a day call to complain about debris in a bike lane, that situation WILL get attention. It is a situation where the cyclist may need to leave the bike lane for safety reasons, and THAT is the educational point. Really, on this last point, I think I’m unlikely to be strung up by the Bike League for unorthodox views, even though the policy document shrugged it off. I think the document missed an opportunity, in an attempt to avoid yet another “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” debate, nothing more.

As for the matter of whether we ought to ENCOURAGE bike lanes, I’ll leave that to advocates and policy wonks, and I can’t think of why anybody I was teaching would ask me such a fuzzy wuzzy question in the first place. MY job is to know how to ride safely when bike lanes are present (or not), to understand and mitigate the dangers associated with them, and, if I should happen to teach others, to understandably explain how they may operate safely. Is my correspondent suggesting I should shrink from teaching others how to operate their bikes as safely as possible under conditions they are likely to encounter? I think not. Is the Bike League document suggesting that I teach students they can ONLY ride in bike lanes? I think not. Perhaps they're not as far apart as it might appear...

One Way to Avoid a "Right Hook" From a Bike Lane
This is Not Alwasy The Best Approach. It Depends on Traffic


Velouria said...

"For some reason, these “door zone” fatality stories seem to come out of Boston more than anyplace else. "

That is very easy for me to believe - given that when I cycle out of the door-zone, cyclists will often pass me on the right. Oh Boston.

danc said...

Oh boy, Thanks for the perspective!

Ham said...

No mention of cycle lane education is complete without a link to Cycle facility of the Month.

Steve A said...

Ham, the idea is to teach the students to ride safLy, not to send them home in terror! The Warrington Cycle Campaign, for those that haven't visited Ham's link, has accumulated a classic collection of reasons why such facilities should not be mandatory.

Khal said...

That is actually a pretty convenient Loo, Ham.

Steve, I think you pretty much nailed it. Here is my sermon.

I don't have a bone to pick with the League regarding how we teach TS students to manage roads with or sans bike lanes, but rather, my criticism is that the League should be stricter in how it evaluates bike lanes before it designates Bicycle-Friendly Communities. Bike lanes are (for better or worse)here to stay, so the job of our League, which it cannot sidestep, is to act as a technical review organization and:

1. Demand that lanes, where present, don't have serious design flaws since cyclists who are not as saavy as you or I will be hurt by such flaws. Door zone bike lanes are one. The picture on your web site shows another, i.e., a direction-parallel pavement lip or ridge midway onto the bike lane. Etc.

2. That local laws do not trap bicyclists in bike lanes, i.e., no MBL laws. If that cannot be accomplished, then the laws should be as liberal and as educational as possible so that cyclists can leave the bike lane whenever their direction of travel and personal safety require or suggest it.

Last summer I nearly ended up in a waterfront barroom style brawl when I left a bike lane to avoid broken glass. The motorist, after forcing me out of the travel lane, wanted to fight, and I had to physically restrain him. The cop that arrived on the scene added insult to injury by criticizing me for leaving the bike lane.

Many cyclists would probably have given up and gotten back into the Buick. That's what is wrong with bike lanes--their combination of gathering crap from the road, coupled with popular misconception that we MUST ride in them at all costs, are a double whammy.

After a pair of phone calls to our police and traffic engineer, the situation above was remedied with a good dose of education. But as I said, most cyclists would probably have seriously considered the Buick and to hell with this bicycling stuff.

Mighk said...

Not only should cyclists inform the responsible agencies if the bike lanes are filled with debris, or other surface hazards, but also remind them, over and over, if they force cyclists into door zones, or if they're incorrectly striped at intersections. We have some bike lanes in Orlando which have been to the right of right-turn-only lanes for over a decade.

Anonymous said...

It is good to see some common sense and intelligence on this topic. Education is key, as previously mentioned, with or without bike lanes. We need to educate cyclists, motorists, and law enforcement. What IS important in keeping cyclists safe on the road is to stop this separation, the choosing sides, the building of walls. We are all people and we all have the right to commute, exercise and enjoy life.

Khal said...

The problem which Mighk makes obvious is that you have to get to the designers and funding agencies before they put in a crap design because its harder to get one removed once installed. It will still be there "...for over a decade" leading inexperienced or uneducated riders into harm's way.

Of course, getting a properly built bike infrastructure usually takes additional resources since you have to allow for managing all reasonable considerations such as sweeping, parking, a door zone, managing intersection and turning conflicts, and of course the bike lane. Putting in a substandard design puts the cyclist west of the rock and east of the hard place.

That's why we need better engineering standards and controls so we don't get shortchanged in the name of "bicycle-specific improvements". If you cannot do it right, please don't do it wrong in the name of politics.

Steve A said...

Wisdom comes from my commenters! Certainly we should not support #%^* facilities. OTOH, it is not the purpose of T101 to educate people to be effective advocates. While I am NOT an advocate, that does not mean I am not interested in advocacy. What's more, it seems to me that we have taken a giant step forward when most cyclists can distinguish between situations that put them at risk and those that do not.

Once we have taken that step, the #%^* will quickly disappear and nobody will advocate for such things. They will not wish to be "Uncle Tom."

The big problem with bile advocates is they seem to have trouble identifying the battles that are both meaningful and which can be won. Education increases the number of issues that meet both criteria.

Khal said...

Steve, I went back and read the League statement on bike lanes, and that reminded me of an email I sent to Andy Clarke: Why didn't the League simply state somewhere in the document that bike lanes shouldn't be striped to direct the cyclist to ride in the door zone of adjacent parking? Simple as that.

The League spent six bullets and most of a page beating around the bush and being indirect on this issue. That to me suggests a political problem, i.e., not being willing to come right out and call a spade a spade. Or in our case, calling a DZBL a DZBL.

Steve A said...

Khal, what is ambiguous? The only two specific teaching guidances tell someone teaching a Smart Cycling class "There is an ongoing need to educate cyclists...about the hazards of dooring: cyclists need to know how to spot and avoid the hazard." AND the league stands for the right of a cyclist to move out of an unsafe condition. All the rest may be honey to some and vinegar to others, but it has nothing to do with Bike Ed. The cycling student need not worry about what motorists or municipalities or whatever OUGHT or COULD be doing. All they need to know is "STAY AWAY FROM DOORS" and "THE BIKE LEAGUE SAYS TO DO IT IF NEEDED."

THAT is the only part of the document that actually goes to what should be taught to a T101 student when it comes to how cyclists should be taught to operate in a door zone. Bike lane or not.

The beauty of Bike Ed is you just tell them how to stay safe. And the policy says to do that. Yeah, to the question I received via email, I WILL comply with that direction and with JOY in my heart. It's why I've got "Nowhere Else to Go."

Khal said...

The teaching is unambiguous and as I said, I have no beef with that. But we are not reaching everyone on a bike. Meanwhile, the stripes speak for themselves, both to the unsophisticated cyclist and to the undereducated motorist or cop wondering why a cyclist is not in the bike lane. Not everyone reads the nuances of the MBL laws, including the cop who dressed me down last summer.

My point is simple. Don't stripe where you don't want a cyclist to ride according to TS 101. The League should just say that. Such a statement is not anti-bike lane (and neither am I). It just makes our engineering standards consistent with our teaching standards. That should work for any PTOE or other traffic professional. You don't put in roadway markings that contradict what you expect the motorist to do, so neither should you do that for the cyclist.

Sure, to some degree that is outside the realm of TS-101.

Principled Pragmatist said...

I still go by John Forester's advice, "Ignore the stripe."

Some people think that means don't ride in bike lanes, but of course it doesn't. It simply means ride wherever you would if the stripe was not there. If the present conditions and your situation are such that you would ride to the right of the stripe (in the bike lane), so be it. Just don't be guided by the bike lane itself with respect to where to ride - that's what "ignore the stripe" means. Instead, you should be looking at other factors, like your speed, your destination, the speed and volume of other traffic, their destination, surface conditions, etc.

Ignore the stripe.

Steve A said...

Use the rightmost lane that serves your destination is very similar to "ignore the stripe." In many cases it'll be identical. The first rule may be found in many League Bike Ed pubs. One problem with ignoring the line is that other traffic is not ignoring the line. A second problem with ignoring the line is that it may subject the cyclist to prosecution. As we both know - even if no bike lane was intended.

The line is a lane boundary, and other road users and law enforcement both treat it as such. It should be considered in that light but not revered as something sacred or magical. A T101 student should be able to understand that and also to understand that motorist can easily be confused by that simple line.

Steve A said...

John Forester has noted that those lines affect motorist and even police driving. It seems idealistic to be the only one on the road to be ignoring those lines. I have followed that advice and invariably concluded it would be wiser to take an alternate route.

In the one case where there is a bike lane on my commute route, I ride further left than I would if there were no stripe because motorists do not clear the debris in the bike lane very well. Lately, I just ride in the traffic lane because there's construction and nobody has begrudged the uppity cyclist so far.

ChipSeal said...

"That's why we need better engineering standards and controls so we don't get shortchanged in the name of "bicycle-specific improvements". If you cannot do it right, please don't do it wrong in the name of politics."

LAB is encouraging the construction of these dangerous ill-engineered bike lanes by giving special "bike friendly" awards to various municipalities such as Austin. LAB is at the for-front of promoting poorly designed bike lanes. LAB is shameless in this regard.

They have fallen from a great height indeed.

I, like Steve, feel the best way to deal with bike lanes is to find a different route. (Especially here in Texas where their use is mandatory- Just ask Sgt. Pillow!) LAB's policies are making alternate routes ever more difficult to find.

Principled Pragmatist said...

I ride further left than I would if there were no stripe because motorists do not clear the debris in the bike lane very well.

When you ignore the stripe, you don't ignore the debris that's there, even though it's there because of the stripe. So you ride further left, just as you would if the debris was there but the stripe wasn't. So, by riding further left than you would if the stripe (and associated debris) were not there, you are behaving consistently with behavior that is based on ignoring the stripe. That is, you're not riding further left because of the stripe; you're riding further left because of the debris. So, as usual, ignoring the stripe and using the same factors to decide where to ride when there is no stripe, like surface condition, works.

Also, just because motorists and law enforcement don't ignore the stripe doesn't you mean you can't, or shouldn't. You can, and you should, ignore the stripe.

You should always have a good reason for riding where you ride, and that reason, if it's actually good, will never having anything to do with a bike lane stripe.

If your choice of where to ride has something to do with a bike lane stripe, then it's not a good reason. Ignore the stripe.

A motorist or police officer might not see all the glass that's in the bike lane, and will expect you to ride in it, but that's no reason to ride in the glass. Ignore the stripe.

A motorist or police officer might not immediately understand that you're moving left because you're approaching an intersection, and will expect you to stay in the bike lane, but that's no reason to position yourself to the right of right turning traffic. Ignore the stripe.

Once you teach students how to position themselves on roads without bike lanes, the only instruction needed for roads with bike lanes is ... ignore the stripe.

Principled Pragmatist said...

Use the rightmost lane that serves your destination is very similar to "ignore the stripe." In many cases it'll be identical.

They're totally different. First, "Use the rightmost lane..." says nothing about where in the lane you should ride (there are other instructions for that).

Second, when combined with "ignore the stripe", "Use the rightmost lane..." means ride anywhere in the space comprised by the rightmost lane and the bike lane (where to ride in that space is determined by the same other instructions - no different than when riding on a road with a very wide outside lane and no bike lane).

Now, if you consider "Use the rightmost lane...", while you do not ignore the stripe and you do consider the bike lane demarcated by that stripe to be "another lane on the road" (as you state in your piece), then that translates to, "ride in the bike lane." Very different. Very different.

Principled Pragmatist said...

One more point about "Fundamentally, a bike lane is another lane on the road, with some special rules and restrictions. ".

No, a "bike lane" is fundamentally different from another lane on the road in at least two significant ways:

1) A bike lane is normally not wide enough for ordinary vehicular traffic, and so vehicular travel is not expected to be in that space, as it is in normal lanes.

2) At intersections without dedicated right turn lanes (the vast majority of intersections), bike lanes that are supposed to accommodate through travel are to the right of normal lanes that accommodate right turning traffic. No normal lane ever does this.

These two characteristics make bike lanes so fundamentally different from normal lanes that it behooves the cyclist to not think of them as lanes at all, to ignore the stripe altogether, and to position himself or herself as he or she would if the stripe were not there.

Steve A said...

PP certainly makes some good points, one of which matches the bottom diagram, in which the cyclist moves left, out of the bike lane when approaching an intersection on a two-lane road. In such a case, I signal a left move before I move left from the bike lane and, after clearing the intersection, I signal the rightward move back into the BL. While my wheel track may be pretty much the same as if I were ignoring the stripe, I clearly am not. If there were no stripe I would drift left as in the case of a transition from a wide to a narrower lane.

Similarly if I needed to move out of the BL to avoid debris, a signal would be in order to alert following motorists I was looking to make a leftward move. They probably won't understand why I need to leave that perfectly good bike lane, but the signal will be respected and the move will be supported.

Chip is entirely right that the simplest solution is simply to choose an alternate route, but again that action takes those lines into consideration as part of the total road picture.

Fortunately, one of the modules I have been assigned for my test lecture is "lane position" and I shall incorporate this excellent advice into that lecture. The tough element is how to break it down to a level that a nervous T101 student can easily grasp and accept.

Steve A said...

Y'all may find it highly amusing that my other module is ABC Quick Check in view of some of my confessed transgressions with same. Yes, I will tell my students why they should make sure their spare tube is compatible with the wheels on their bike and why it is not enough merely to spin their wheel to ensure proper brake operation but that they really ought to ACT on that info.

Ham said...


Khal said...

"Ignore the stripe" may enable the cyclist to ride in an optimal position, but Steve and others point out the flaw with this thinking if put into practice. Anyone else out there "ignoring the stripe", i.e., a motorist driving half in two lanes, etc, is probably going to be pulled over for erratic driving. Likewise for a cyclist riding outside a DZBL in a state with a MBL law.

Good luck on your practicum, Steve.And, don't feel like the Lone Ranger as far as that ABC. Its a little mortifying to do an ABC Quick check in front of students and have your brake cable slip.

Don't put in lane markings that contradict what we would teach. That makes a cyclist's job a lot easier than having to explain to the cop or irate motorist why he is "ignoring the stripe". Keeping bike lanes out of door zones and putting in broken stripes at turning and crossing points are two things that would improve this situation. As I said, make the lane markings consistent with good practice.

Principled Pragmatist said...

While my wheel track may be pretty much the same as if I were ignoring the stripe, I clearly am not. If there were no stripe I would drift left as in the case of a transition from a wide to a narrower lane.

Sorry, this doesn't fly either.

You should always signal any significant change in lateral position - whether you're crossing a stripe or not is immaterial.

If you always signal any change in lateral position (more than a few inches), then there is no difference in behavior whether the stripe is there or not. This applies equally without regard to the presence of a stripe whether the lateral move is to avoid debris or to adjust for destination positioning or whatever.

If the move is insignificant, only a few inches, you should ignore the stripe. That is, if you're moving your wheel track from just to the right of the stripe to just to the left of the stripe, there is no more need to signal such a move than if the stripe were not there. It's the amount of lateral change that determines whether you need to signal the move, not whether you cross a stripe or not. Paying attention to the stripe and thinking it's a factor to be considered in deciding how you behave is nothing but a distraction.

Again, once proper behavior is understood for roads without bike lanes, the only instruction needed for roads with bike lanes is, ignore the stripe. As far as I can tell, any instruction beyond that is totally unnecessary and useless complication which belies a lack of full understanding and appreciation for proper behavior on roads without bike lanes.

Principled Pragmatist said...

Likewise for a cyclist riding outside a DZBL in a state with a MBL law. -Khal

So, you're suggesting the instruction should be to account for the stripe and to ride in door zone bike lanes in states with MBL laws? I disagree, the instruction should be ignore the stripe, and ride outside of the door zone just as you would if the stripe were not there. I don't know of any state with an MBL law which could not be argued to not apply when riding in a DZBL when parked cars that present a hazard are present.

There should never be any reason to explain to anyone why one is "ignoring the [bike lane] stripe"; only the need to explain why one is riding where one is riding, reasons that should apply equally whether the stripe is there or not, and should never having anything to do with the stripe. Paying any attention to the bike lane stripe with regard to deciding where to ride can never be a good thing (well, except maybe in wet conditions due to the stripe being potentially slick paint - but that's just seeing it as a hazardous surface to avoid, not as a guidance facility, and so is still "ignoring the stripe" in the sense in which the instruction is intended).

Khal said...

PP, in deliberately twisting my post, you have committed the straw man fallacy.

What I said was "...Anyone else out there "ignoring the stripe", i.e., a motorist driving half in two lanes, etc, is probably going to be pulled over for erratic driving. Likewise for a cyclist riding outside a DZBL in a state with a MBL law....Don't put in lane markings that contradict what we would teach. That makes a cyclist's job a lot easier than having to explain to the cop or irate motorist why he is "ignoring the stripe"..."

So I think it is clear I am not suggesting that someone ride in a door zone. What I also said was not to install dangerous bike lanes, because when we put in bike lanes, there is the public expectation we will use them. The public is not very keen on understanding the hazards of dangerous bike lanes and it should not fall onto the shoulders of the hapless cyclist to have to constantly defend himself/herself against criticism that should actually be leveled against the designers and municipalities.

By training cyclists, they are able to both avoid the dangerous situations and defend themselves credibly when quizzed. But why have to go there?

Principled Pragmatist said...

Khal, any twisting of your post by me was not deliberate. I'm honestly trying to understand what you are saying. Any "twist" is just a misunderstanding. Sorry. Let's try again.

My argument is that the only instruction necessary on roads with bike lanes is "ignore the [bike lane] stripe". You said there is "a flaw with this thinking if put into practice". I'm trying to understand what you think that flaw is.

You wrote: "Anyone else out there "ignoring the stripe", i.e., a motorist driving half in two lanes, etc, is probably going to be pulled over for erratic driving. Likewise for a cyclist riding outside a DZBL in a state with a MBL law."

Doesn't that last sentence mean that a stripe-ignoring cyclist who rides outside of a DZBL in an MBL state is probably going to be pulled over for erratic driving? If that's the "flaw" with ignoring the stripe, aren't you suggesting that the cyclist NOT do that; that is he should not ride outside of the DZBL? Since you said making that assumption was "twisting" what you said, I assume (now) not. Then what are you suggesting? If it's not a flaw to ride outside of the DZBL due to ignoring the stripe in an MBL state, what is the flaw to which you are referring?

Principled Pragmatist said...

Also, I never suggested that a motorist - who is not supposed to drive in bike lanes - should be ignoring the bike lane stripe.

The reason bicyclists should ignore bike lane stripes is that following their guidance is all too often bad guidance. Whatever factors determine whether following the stripe's guidance happens to be good or bad in a given situation is what should always guide the cyclist, never the stripe itself. Any guidance from the stripe should never be considered in deciding where to position the bicycle laterally. That's what "ignore the stripe" means. Where's the flaw in that?

cafiend said...

Terminology suggestions: Right hook is well understood. I refer to a collision or near collision caused by an ONCOMING motorist turning left as a LEFT CROSS. A LEFT HOOK would actually come from the cyclist's RIGHT, as a motorist to the right forced a left turn across the cyclist's path in the same direction of travel. Picture yourself in the left of two lanes, and an impatient motorist passes you on the right and then launches a left turn from beside you.

Steve A said...

Of course, cafiend is correct. I don't experience such things so I'm a bit rusty on the official terms for each of these. They all mostly have the same root cause - a motorist doesn't have the cyclist in his center of attention at the critical moment. I try not to encourage such neglect in MY motorists. I learn how to do it a little better each day...

Principled Pragmatist said...

Based on something that was posted on a forum...

BL stripes provide guidance with respect to where not to ride.

1) "For consistent surface condition, sensible intersection approach behavior, minimizing unnecessary lateral merges so I can maximize my attention forward, and to always impart earliest the concept "INTEGRATE" to my fellow road users, I actively avoid bikelane delimited space most of the time. "

2) "The stripe is a few inches to the left of the rightmost area of pavement that is swept and smoothed by traffic. ... Since some of the debris is hard to see (e.g. glass nestled down in the asphalt grain) I appreciate the bike lane stripe's assistance in finding clearer pavement".

I think these are valid points, but even you look to the BL stripe as a good proxy for establishing where the edge of the usable surface is (the stripe itself in (1) or a few inches to the right of it in (2)), this is still ignoring the stripe with respect to using it as a lane stripe.

Khal said...

PP, here is what I meant. Sorry for the delay and if I was not sufficiently clear. Just got back from the LAB Rally.

A cyclist should not be riding in the door zone. Period. Stripes or no stripes.

If the stripes say to ride in the door zone, disregard the stripes in establishing your riding position and be prepared to defend your actions if questioned. A cyclist who has taken TS 100 or done some web research should be able to do that. Just say "no more Dana Lairds".

The problem with door zone bike lanes is that they put the cyclist who is riding correctly at odds with the traffic professional's lane markings. Many people assume traffic professionals have the wisdom of Solomon when putting in lane markings. Well, sometimes they don't and for a variety of reasons. This failure may result in the vehicular cyclist being hassled by motorists or questioned by police. Especially when there is a MBL law.

So my earlier point was not to say the cyclist should ride in the door zone in order to avoid being hassled. My point was that the bike lane should not be striped in the door zone to begin with. If that were the case, the cyclist would not have to deal with being forced to defend himself for disregarding traffic controls that defy common sense or are downright dangerous if obeyed.

Sorry if I got grouchy. Like Steve, I get easily crankly.

Stephen said...

I have a much stronger and negative reaction to this statement than you do. I find the qualifications to be very weak, and presented as exceptions.

My biggest objection is to the statement that motorists have the legal and practical obligation to avoid dooring bicyclists. The clear implication is that fixing dooring is an issue for motorists, not bicyclists. While I agree that motorists should and do have a legal requirement to avoid dooring bicyclists, I think the practical ability to avoid the issue belongs to bicyclists, who should (legally) ride outside the door zone (hence outside almost every bike lane I've seen in Philadelphia and Cambridge). For contrast, legally, motorists are required to wait at red lights. Nevertheless, there is a delay before cross traffic gets a green light. Since some motorists make mistakes or are agressive, there is a short delay where both directions have a red light to allow for mistakes. Door zone bike lanes indicate that bicyclists are entitled to allow for a margin of error the way motorists are required to. In fact, by placing the bicyclists so close to parked cars, they are harder for motorists to see. If a motorist runs a red light, they may be injured themselves. If they door a bicyclist they cannot see in the door zone, the bicyclist is injured. Somehow, avoiding your own injury seems like a bigger incentive.

Further, I've never seen the Bicycle League or local affiliates object to mandatory lane or path use for actual paths, or when individual cyclists were harassed by police (i.e. pulled over by police in Philadelphia on Sunday when signs said no cycling on road Monday-Friday 4pm - 6pm). The MBL law in Baltimore makes no execptions for bicyclists traveling at the same speed as traffic. All I see is the League encouraging more bike lanes, even with MBL and door zone bike lanes.

Steve A said...

Regardless of words versus actions, it is the obligation of Bike Ed to teach people to ride safely and defensively, under any circumstances they encounter. Political BS, to whatever extent it exists, depends on the ignorance and support of its subjects. Educated cyclists will recognize dangerous facilities and will demand better.

Khal said...

"...Political BS, to whatever extent it exists, depends on the ignorance and support of its subjects. ..."

That needs to be engraved in bronze and framed on the wall.

Warren C. said...

Steve - Your post is well written and spot on!

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