Following are photos of what happens when governments, planners and cycling advocates lose sight of the safety and well-being of cyclists in their quest to promote cycling (or to appear to be “accommodating” cyclists). This IS the natural end result of the current facilities-first, cycling advocacy paradigm. It is what the mindless clamoring for bike lanes will produce.
Here what it looks like with high-speed traffic in it:
This lane is a right-turn-only lane for the entire block after the previous traffic light. A cyclist going straight should not be using this lane at all, and should certainly not be riding to the right of it. We teach the proper lane position and intersection technique in bike ed. We teach cyclists to think ahead and be where they need to be well ahead of time. We teach cyclists never to swoop. The paint on this road teaches the opposite.
Just behind where where this photo was taken is this series of intersections:
There are 6 right-hook invitations in the above satellite image of a Tallahassee arterial. Three are bike lanes to the right of right-turn only lanes and three are bike lanes (striped solid) to the right of dual destination lanes with a high percentage of right turning vehicles.
This one is the most absurd of the above suicide slots (the shopping center entrance at the top, left):
The bank entrance behind this photo also has a constant flow of right-turning traffic. It is simply not possible to segregate traffic by vehicle type in such a complex area. Doing so not only endangers cyclists, it lures novices who have no idea they are being endangered. That is unethical.
The next series of photos are the antithetical follow-up to my last Smart Moves post. The video in my post shows the safest and easiest way to transition a freeway interchange. The pavement markings in the photo show — and lead cyclists into — the MOST DANGEROUS thing you could do at a freeway interchange.
First, here is the signalized intersection immediately before the on-ramp to I-10. A large number of cars turn right here, the bike lane is striped solid to the intersection.
This is the bike lane configuration at the on-ramp. The lane actually jumps across the on-ramp (on the other side of the truck). This interchange is under construction and the bike lane is obstructed under the bridge, so hopefully that will keep novice cyclists from attempting to ride through this area.
Here it is with a line of traffic in it:
As with door-zone bike lanes, these suicide slots UNDERMINE the efforts of cycling educators. As we try to teach people to ride safely, the careless paint reinforces and encourages mistakes that could kill them! It doesn’t just lead novices into danger on this road, it leads novices into dangerous behaviors on every road. It teaches them the exact opposite of the right way to ride. It teaches all road users the exact opposite of how cyclists should ride. This is criminal negligence. It is reckless endangerment. It undermines education and principled advocacy. And you can mince around all you want about “good bike lanes” and “bad bike lanes” but the bottom line is, these disasters are virtually unavoidable when bike lanes are touted as the way to promote cycling. Governments and contractors cannot be trusted to do things right for cyclists when their bias is to keep us out of the way.
It takes constant vigilance on the part of people who care about the rights and well-being of cyclists to protect them from the people whose primary interest is promoting cycling. It’s time to stand up and tell these people that we do not feel “accommodated” by being shoved out of the way at our expense!
Cycling is a beautiful thing. Promoting cycling is a good thing. Building infrastructure which benefits cyclists and facilitates their mobility is an important thing. But there are many, many things we can—and need to—do to enhance cycling. Advocacy and promotion of cycling is far more complex than simply slapping down paint wherever there’s enough pavement width to do it.
UPDATE: Read this post on CycleDallas, it’s an important companion to this post.