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Posted by on Jun 26, 2009 in Uncategorized | 58 comments

Advertising lane position with a LOT of paint…

Your observations/musings/questions/concerns/rants are encouraged in the comments section.

Source: Russ Roca. Several more posts about the sharrows there.

58 Comments

  1. It gives the phrase “cycling is a green activity” a whole new meaning.

    How much heat does green paint absorb compared to black asphalt? Naw, I’m selling out too easily, influenced by some 100F days.

  2. Now that Long Beach has green bike lanes where they belong, how does one inform these newly-illuminated bike riders that it doesn’t take paint to make it work?

  3. Maybe we can hope that these newly-illuminated riders will learn to generalize from this experience, Fred, and apply those same lane positioning principles to other streets without the green paint.

    It’s better than the alternative. “I can’t get from here to there because there aren’t any bike lanes!”

  4. 1. Sharrows by themselves don’t mean much to motorists.
    2. Bike lane promoters have convinced everyone that cyclists need lanes to ride safely.

    So the two are combined and since bicycle positioning lines in the center of the road are too confusing for everyone, we end up with lots of paint.

  5. A bike lane “says,” “Stay out of the way of motorists.” This treatment “says,” “Get in the way of motorists.”

    BTW, I was glad to see my ol’ buddy Charlie Gandy (the silver-haired guy talking to the three young ladies). He was a Texas legislator before working with Texas Bicycle Coalition and Nat’l Center for Bicycling and Walking. Last I heard he’d bought a lakeside inn in some remote part of Colorado. One of the networks did a story on his ice golf course out on the lake in winter. Wonder what he’s up to in Long Beach (beside flirting with girls young enough to be his daughters).

  6. What Fred and Ed said….

    But I did snort my coffee hearing Charlie Gandy talk about the grave dangers of the door zone. He’s been promoting door zone bike lanes since the Dead Sea was still sick. If this is a genuine change of heart on Charlie’s part, will he go back to Texas and tell them to get out the paint remover?

    And… uh… doesn’t Charlie’s newfound concern with cyclists being visible to motorists have any bearing on the “separated” sidepath also being constructed on another street in Long Beach? That one crosses some commercial driveways.

    The paradigm of this shared lane marking is completely incompatible with the (vastly inferior) paradigm of the sidepath. What they both have in common is big consulting fees to the bikelane industry and the belief that bike riders can’t do poo without a whole tanker truck full of paint to tell them how.

    John Schubert
    Limeport.org

  7. ChipSeal scratches his his head in astonishment.

    “Ain’t that somethin’!”

    ChipSeal liked what Russ Roca has been urging the town fathers to make plain to all residents. He told them;

    “-those lanes were “sharable” by bikes before the sharrows were being put in.

    -the new sharrows do not take away any rights from motorists NOR do they give bicyclists any special rights, they are just very bold and large visual indicators that bikes can already be legally on the road and they invite cyclists that may not know that right to be on the road.

    -the placement of the sharrows is where the cyclist SHOULD ride, out of the door zone.

    -Consternation from local residents is most likely because they feel like cyclists are being given special rights or an unfair allocation of road resources. I think to mitigate this response the existing road rights of cyclists should be discussed. This also will start to spread the idea that bikes are allowed on ALL streets in Long Beach.”

    ChipSeal thinks cyclists ought to be instructed to treat all narrow laned roads in the same manner, even when there is no green paint there. With a little imagination, he can “see” a green path in the center of the lane everywhere he rides!

  8. I forget where I saw the comment, but one clever person asked if that green paint would be the same kind of slippery when wet as usual road paint…

  9. I’ll quote CyclistLorax (aka Dan Gutierrez wrote on Youtube): “The City of Long Beach has simply painted what I see in my mind’s eye, and what the law allows, every time I use a narrow travel lane! Just remember that cyclists can treat travel lanes that are too narrow to share, especially those that are near the door zone of parked cars, as if this green paint and Sharrows were present. I’ve been thinking of the roads this way for many years; no green paint or symbols required!”

    Here is my twist: A little education is lot cheaper than the green paint and it goes everywhere (no slipping when it’s wet nor disappears when worn) and last a lifetime.

  10. Some sharper eyes may also note the gutter-bunny mentality of a couple of the people on bikes riding on the green. One of them appeared to be using the right edge of the paint as a guide. That is the sort of situation where no green might lead the rider to use the center of the sharrow marking, instead of the right edge.

  11. P.M. Summer, I hope you don’t mind my beating you to the punch in repeating the comment you made about this on the Chainguard Yahoo list, because it was just too damn funny!

    First Wayne Pein says:
    “I think that gratuitous amount of paint elevates the paint-is-great syndrome to its illogical conclusion. But maybe not! Perhaps ALL roads/lanes should be painted some fun color to indicate some right place to operate.

    Green=bicycles
    Blue=motorized wheelchairs, electric bikes, other low power MVs
    Purple=motorcycles
    Red=emergency vehicles
    Brown=heavy trucks
    Orange=cars and light trucks
    Yellow=submarines and other nuclear powered devices”

    Then Summer says:
    “Wayne, the cool thing is, when you mix ALL those colors together… you get black.” :-)

  12. JohnB,

    You’re welcome. I ain’t touching this foolishness with a ten foot pole.

  13. Considering that many bike facilities in the Orlando metro area are wide curb lanes (14′ outside lanes), I like the sharrow idea because it’s a quick way of reaching the masses and educating them about proper bicycle position. Not necessarily all that paint though, maybe in certain areas.

  14. I don’t think 14ft lanes should be marked with anything. 14 feet is marginal, it can only be shared with passenger vehicles. So based on the type of traffic and frequency of intersections, it is often not practicable to share a 14ft lane. I control WCLs more often than not because most of ours are on roads with truck and trailer traffic. They are also 4-lane roads, so motorists can use the other lane to pass. When you put a permanent marker there, it creates the expectation that a cyclists always has to share the lane—that reduces service by increasing harassment.

  15. I was most fascinated by the people. I’ve seen the green lane treatment before, as the experiment is also being done in Salt Lake City.

    The riding cyclists.

    Like Fred, I noticed the default gutter-bunny behavior of some cyclists hugging the right edge. They do this on Edgewater Dr, hugging the right edge of the bike lane and skimming the parked cars, riding into the empty spaces to get to the curb. Some people are going to do that no matter what you paint, but it’s possible that the edge of the green kept some of those out of the door zone. But when the paint ends, those folks are going to snap back to the curb like it’s magnetized.

    The interviewed cyclists.

    The young girls (that Gandy was flirting with) had no idea they were allowed to ride in the lane. This points to a failure of education. We can’t make up for that with paint. When people have no idea they’re allowed to ride in the middle of the lane, green paint on one road will not tell them that they can do it on other roads. See DanC’s comment.

    The guy in the bike shop also offers a very common perspective. I hear this a lot and read it on cycling forums. There are a number of experienced cyclists who know they’re allowed to claim the lane in certain circumstances, but they’re uncomfortable doing it unless they hammer. The underlying fear is that motorists are going to get mad at them — the core problem is they don’t truly believe they are legitimate and equal road users. They love the paint because it represents an authority figure telling the big kids that the little kids are allowed to use the jungle gym, too. In that way, the paint on this road isn’t likely to transfer the behavior to other roads.

    The most liberating moment for a cyclist is the epiphany that you don’t have to be fast to claim your space… it’s still your space… and it really doesn’t matter much to the motorists!

    The grumpy old dude (found in another post on Russ Roca’s site).

    This guy has a lifetime of superstition and mythology to overcome and he’s gonna go kicking and screaming. Unfortunately, you’ll find this guy’s attitude in all the worst places — like law enforcement and DOTs.

    I will echo ChipSeal, Dan G and Dan C in saying that vehicular cyclists already see this green lane in our mind’s eye: like this.

    And I share the concerns of other commenters about how this transfers good behavior to other roads.

    The only way I can see a facility like this working in the big picture (ie: not just on this one road) is if it was used as the visual centerpiece of a much bigger education and social marketing campaign. In such context, it could actually be temporary… which would be good because I’m sure that paint is expensive and has ecological consequences.

    But that’s unlikely since it appears the city is confusing the issue with numerous other types of conflicting (and dangerous) facilities. This really isn’t about educating people about safe cycling practices, it’s about throwing everything in the toolbox out onto the street grid to promote cycling. The “customer” isn’t the cyclists, it’s the egos of the city officials who want recognition for being hip, green, progressive, whatever.

    My concern/questions about a potential downside to this treatment:

    Does it channel motorists into the left lane, making it more difficult to merge for a left turn? Does it make people think cyclists have to ride only in that lane? What if they need to pass slower traffic? What if cyclists need to make an early merge to the left lane in preparation for a left turn? Will they be harassed for riding in the left lane?

  16. Keri’s closing questions are quite valid and frightening. I think, as vehicular cyclists, we already know the answers and they are not good answers.

    Instead of this huge green bike lane stripe which does appear to exclude motorists, even though we know better, educating the legitimate road users, bicyclists and motor vehicle operators alike, would have been a better use of funds.

    Orlando Sentinel has been placing what appear to be public service display ads. It shows a Joe King (Yehuda Moon) sort of profile of a rider with the words “Share the Road”. It appears to be directed at motorists, but is not informative in any way.

    I’d like to see “Bikes may use full lane” and “Change lanes to pass” perhaps followed by “Share the road” with appropriate icons to further educate both types of primary road users.

    Since there are so few equine-propelled vehicles on our roads, we probably don’t need to educate about them.

  17. Anecdotal evidence implies that many motorists see “Share the Road” signs as directed at cyclists as much as at motorists, if not more. I’ve also seen “Shared Roadway” signs that are probably better, although that still may give the false education that only marked roadways are shared ones.

  18. “The young girls had no idea they were allowed to ride in the lane.”

    I was so frustrated watching that. They never turned the corner on the “education”. That is, to tell the girls that all narrow lanes should be treated as though they had sharrows and a similar green carpet.

    Laura- Texas defines a substandard lane as one that is 14 feet wide or less. (Most of ours are less.) I would be concerned about sharing a 14 foot lane.

  19. Mighk can correct me if I’m wrong, perhaps our WCLs are 15′ wide, not 14′. I’d still like to see sharrows on those lanes to reinforce the message that the WCL is a de facto bicycle facility. My goal as a bike/ped advocate is to encourage more people to ride and to ride safely. To also reinforce the message to motorists that bikes belong and it’s okay for them to be in the road. Perhaps a motorist will think to themselves, hey, I could ride a bike instead of driving my car. I don’t care if cyclists are VCs or just recreational riders. Just ride.

  20. Laura said; “To also reinforce the message to motorists that bikes belong and it’s okay for them to be in the road. Perhaps a motorist will think to themselves, hey, I could ride a bike instead of driving my car.

    That message would be clearer and cheaper with a public education campaign.

    I am skeptical of the attractiveness of cycling much beyond the present modal share which I elaborate on here:

    http://cycledallas.blogspot.com/2009/06/pie-la-mode.html

  21. It’s 14ft.

    Take a look at the metroplan map and note the roads that have WCLs. Most of them are 4-lane arterial roads with truck and trailer traffic. I don’t care what you paint on them, it’s not going to cause non-cyclists to want to ride there.

    It also doesn’t tell motorists that bicyclists belong in the road. It tells them that we belong at the edge of the road. And when we need to move into the road to protect ourselves we look like scofflaws because there is a mark that clearly shows we need to be at the edge.

    Indicating a default position on the right side of a WCL does not encourage people to ride safely, either. It encourages them to be in the wrong position at intersections and to get buzzed by large vehicles. I don’t think we need to dumb down bicycling (and restrict competent cyclists) to advertise it. There are better methods of encouragement.

    In what other part of the transportation system are traffic control devices used as advertisement?

  22. The following is a direct quote from a high-mileage recreational cyclist (about a year ago):

    “…bike lanes on 17-92 were approved
    by WP City Council 2 nights ago….that is not a road for cyclists.”

    This is someone with 1000s of miles of road riding experience. And not too far removed from the angry old man in this video.

    Ponder that.

    We have work to do. Education. Culture change. It is not going to be accomplished with paint.

  23. On the plus side:

    This might be the first ever bikeway that was DELIBERATELY placed ENTIRELY OUTSIDE the door zone.

    This is also one of the rare cases where a sharrow was DELIBERATELY placed in the CENTER of the travel lane.

  24. Let me add a small positive to this. The local politicians and bureaucrats can point to this lovely green paint and say, “Look what we did for you!” with the unstated part being – vote for me in November. We might regard that as extremely self-serving, but they see it as an essential part of providing services to all those registered voters. We should view it as an opportunity, the thin end of the wedge. Praise the thing and congratulate those who were responsible for installing it, and point out that it’s a wonderful educational opportunity, one that can be the foundation of further education that can reach the entire community, (and all those registered voters.)

    I’m not cynical, just experienced.

  25. Like everything else, there are good and bad uses of a solid layer of paint to indicate a route for bicycles. Putting paint on the road is useful as one intersection treatment on roads that do not have enough traffic volume to justify an over- or underpass to eliminate intersection conflicts.

    Copenhagen and Toronto have both standardized upon the colour blue. I don’t know why blue is used, but am definitely not used to seeing green.

    I would like to emphasise that this is one of many tools in the toolbox and is not always appropriate. But it is useful for marking the best path for cyclists through an intersection and alerting all other road users to expect cyclists there.

    So, for example, a car driver could be asking himself “Why do the signs require me to yield right-of-way here?” When he sees the blue path, the question is answered.

    Or a head-down pedestrian who isn’t seeing anything more than a metre in front of his feet sees that patch turning blue. And knows not to step there without looking first.

    The video shows a non-standard use since the painted route is outside of intersections. But I can see that this could have a useful function in places that don’t have a good bike culture in training cyclists to stay out of the door zone and training car drivers to expect cyclists to be taking the lane.

    There are two problems that these painted routes have traditionally had. The first is that there may be very good reasons for the cyclist to deviate from the marked path. The head-down pedestrian should be expecting cyclists on all parts of the road, not just the bits that are blue.

    Also, people may come to the belief that there is some difference in cyclist status on roads that have the markings and those that do not.

    Here is a photo of a Copenhagen intersection:
    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2008/11/copenhagen-blue.html

  26. On 14′ lanes are people advocating taking the entire lane? To me that seems a bit like overkill and I have to wonder why we’re spending so much money on asphalt which is a lot more expensive than paint. I’m sure many local governments would be happy to revert back to 12′ lanes. As for educational campaigns, they cost money too and are sometimes fleeting/ineffective/limited. How do people suggest that we get the word out to the public that it’s perfectly legitimate to take the lane/share the road?

    Right now cyclists are considered by many to be scofflaws for riding in the road, period, much less taking the lane. I guess Metroplan’s job is done with regard to building bicycle friendly roads since bike lanes aren’t appropriate, neither are WCL’s or sharrows, at least that’s how this and many threads are coming across.

    I have rarely felt the need to take the center of a lane and I am not a gutter bunny; have ridden many on-road miles over the years and never had a crash.

  27. Sometimes it is appropriate to discourage same-lane passing in a 14 foot lane. Sometimes it’s appropriate to position properly for numerous intersections and driveways in a tight space. Sometimes a cyclist’s speed is such that it is appropriate to use more lane for better sight lines.

    That’s the problem with permanent marks on the road that indicate a specific lane position.

  28. Agreed, but like what was said earlier, sharrows are one tool in the toolbox. In some areas, bike lanes are appropriate – high speed suburban arterials. In some areas sharrows would be more appropriate than bike lanes. Still in other areas, none of those are appropriate or necessary. There are ways to deal with intersections driveways and sight lines as well that don’t preclude use of any of those tools. Pershing between Semoran and Goldenrod is a perfect example of a WCL that works extremely well.

    As for traffic control devices that ‘advertise’ position, I’d say the overhead lane arrows at interstate merges/diversions are a possible example. We also have shields for westbound and eastbound I-4 entrances painted in the road on south street approaching I-4 (or there were before the construction started), so it’s not entirely unheard of.

  29. The overhead lane arrows on the interstate indicate which lanes to use, not position within a lane for a specific vehicle type. But that’s not what I meant by “advertise.”

    When I said: “In what other part of the transportation system are traffic control devices used as advertisement?”

    I was responding to: “Perhaps a motorist will think to themselves, hey, I could ride a bike instead of driving my car.”

    I have advocated the use of sharrows in narrow lanes:

    http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2008/07/03/more-about-sharrows/

    I also think it’s appropriate to use them for encouraging lateral movement in places where cyclists need to take the lane (like Edgewater approaching Princeton—though my preference would be for the entire bike lane to be replaced with centered sharrows as indicated in the following link). I have also registered my disagreement with the MUTCD recommendations, which were a result of political compromise, not efficacy.

    I see no value in running them on the edge of WCLs where most cyclists are going to ride anyway. It offers no benefit at all to cyclists in return for creating a restrictive illusion that they belong on the edge when that might not best serve them. An unadulterated WCL is an inclusive facility, it allows for your preferred behavior and mine with no restrictions on either of us.

  30. Laura wrote:

    ” In some areas, bike lanes are appropriate – high speed suburban arterials. In some areas sharrows would be more appropriate than bike lanes. Still in other areas, none of those are appropriate or necessary.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    It is fairly easy to plan for both high and low order transportation; the middle is where it is tough.

    Low order, in residential or commercial areas, is fairly easy. Mix all users in a woonerf or zone de rencontre. This has the advantage of ensuring that cars are held down to walking speed, but the disadvantage that cyclists are also slowed.

    High order is also easy. For both cars and bicycles, these are limited-access routes with intersections engineered out by being placed on under- or overpasses. A Forida example of such a route for cars is I-95. An example for bicycles can be seen here:

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2009/01/racing-against-grandad.html

    Unlike the woonerf, it is important that pedestrians be kept off high-order bicycle routes. I don’t want to be dodging peds when going 35 km/hr. Too dangerous.

    The problem is with medium order streets; arterial roads such as the one in the video here.

  31. I guess Metroplan’s job is done with regard to building bicycle friendly roads since bike lanes aren’t appropriate, neither are WCL’s or sharrows, at least that’s how this and many threads are coming across.

    One of the features that make cycling in the Dallas area so nice for me is that nearly all public roads here have narrow lanes.

    Narrow lanes remove the ambiguous quandary for motorists who come upon me- it is obvious in an instance that they must change lanes to overtake me. (I always take the lane.)

    I spend no effort on monitoring the traffic behind me. I have plenty of other things to be concerned with anyway. This is an ideal environment in my opinion, so why would I advocate for something less?

    Traffic lanes should be shared as a single line of traffic, (As they are engineered.) and not side by side.

  32. My issue with wide curb lanes is that for many motorists they have no idea why the road is that wide. If we’re going to count them as bike facilities for the purposes of promoting what a good job the local governments are doing with respect to bike/ped facilities, I’d kind of like to make their purpose more well known. I don’t see a sharrow as a whole lot different than a sign that says ‘bikes sharing roadway’ (though I question how effective they are) or ‘bike may take full use of the lane’.

  33. “If we’re going to count them as bike facilities for the purposes of promoting what a good job the local governments are doing with respect to bike/ped facilities, I’d kind of like to make their purpose more well known.”

    So? Your concerned about publicity?

    What’s so hard about getting the TV station to come out and do a story about a recently widened street where the outside lane was widened from 12 to 14 feet? (If we even have any.)

    They could film somebody on a bicycle, showing how trucks and SUV’s can pass with ease without having to change lanes. More complete, the story could film what happens when the lane is 12 feet wide and a include a bite from an engineer explaining why the lane was widened.

    I don’t have trouble sharing a 12 foot lane with small cars, but the SUV’s try to squeeze through too, and that’s why I have to take the lane.

  34. Laura, a W11-1 with no placard will suffice. Motorists don’t notice a lane is 14ft vs 12ft. Nor do I want them to know the lane is officially wide enough to share. When they encounter a cyclist on the edge, they can see it’s wide enough to share and they go on by. What purpose does it serve to educate them any more than that?

    The thing motorists need to be educated about is bicyclists’ right to the full use of a lane.

    Eric said: They could film somebody on a bicycle, showing how trucks and SUV’s can pass with ease without having to change lanes.

    Cars and SUVs, not trucks. See” How Wide Should a Wide Lane be

    IMO, such publicity would have a high risk of backfire in our damaged culture. The reporter would most likely get the facts wrong. They would most likely fail to convey that 90% of the lanes around here are not sharable. People can’t judge widths. The takeaway would be: “this lane looks like one of them wide ones, that bicyclist should share the lane! HONK!”

    This stuff is confusing enough to explain to bicyclists!

  35. Any design that lets motorists pass cyclists without changing lanes is not actually a bike facility, it’s a passing-convenience facility.

    In our culture, cyclists and motorists are conditioned to believe that a passing-convenience facility is a bike facility. Job #1 of cyclists is to stay out of the way of faster (i.e. more important) traffic.

    Given a wide lane, you can paint a shoulder, or paint a bike lane, or just leave it wide. Legally, there are some differences between those three desigins, but operationally, they’re about the same.

    In any case, when cyclists ride at the edge of this wide space, that’s a real-time advertisement of the passing-convenience facility.

    The trouble comes when people think ALL lanes of ANY width are passing-convenience facilities.

  36. I think it’s important to remember that ALL roads are defacto bicycle facilities, and adding width to a lane is first an improvement for motorist overtaking convenience. A 30 inch wide bicycle fits on any road. When we start defining WOLs as bicycle facilities, what does that say about narrow lanes? Are bicyclists less legitimate in a narrow lane?

    Added width may or may not be a psychological and/or operational benefit to bicyclists. On a multilane road, added width “for bicyclists” can arguably always be considered superfluous. Multiple lanes means motorists could and should change lanes to pass. And I and many other bicyclists can make a strong argument that many narrow lanes are the best roads on which to bicycle.

    The shared use symbol is a traffic control device. As such, it is required to:
    -fulfill a need
    -command attention
    -convey a clear simple meaning
    -command respect
    -give adequate time for response

    Under the best of circumstances a shared use symbol struggles to satisfy 1, 3, and 4. In a WOL those elements are further dubious. I don’t think its useful to try to micromanage bicyclist within lane position under the vast majority of situations (though most bicyclists have no idea how to manage their own space), and I certainly don’t want some planner/designer/governmental official trying to determine for me where I should ride within MY lane, whether it is narrow or wide.

    Bicyclists generally self select onto roads on which they feel comfortable. Artificially raising their comfort with a paint marking is a questionable tactic. If a person is so timid and unknowledgeable that he is unable to distinguish road width and is unable to use a wide lane without the invitation of a marking, that person is probably better off sticking to residential streets until he becomes less of a hazard to himself.

    Lastly, I think most 14′ lanes are a disservice to bicyclists. The intent is to enable lane sharing, but that is just too narrow. It encourages too close passing and bicyclists to hug the edge. They’ve been improperly framed as providing space for bicycling. Wide lanes should be wider and framed as providing a better turning radius for long vehicles.

    Wayne

    Wayne

  37. Going where angels fear to tread…

    Positive: The sharrows are BIG and in the center of the lane.

    Negative: The green paint is an admission that sharrows don’t do what they have been hoped to do (indicate correct lateral position). Without the green paint, the timid cyclists won’t venture out. With the green paint, they think it a “real bicycle facility”. Except that it’s one that cars cross to park, that cars drive in, that cyclists don’t expect cars to drive in, that motorists don’t know what it it. It reinforces negative emotions.

    Opinion: I would have preferred to see giant GREEN sharrows, and the pavement left black.

  38. Laura/Mighk/Keri/: Are you aware of any studies that show increased bicycle usage on a street where once there were no bike lanes, and then bike lanes were installed? Anything specific to Orlando? I’m not looking for overall studies for cities (ie Copenhagen, Toronto), I’m looking for specifics for streets where bike lanes were installed. Street by street examples.

    The whole premise behind bike lanes is that it encourages inexperienced cyclists to get onto roads that they normally would not by having a separate lane. If it cannot accomplish that goal, then all of the other arguments (ie: safety, separate not equal status) are moot.

  39. I wonder if the green lane appears to be narrower than the lane to its left. We have a 4-lane street with 2 12 foot lanes in each direction. The outside lane has an 18 inch concrete gutter pan that contrasts with the darker asphalt, and it makes that lane appear to be narrower.

    Now, this is sheer speculation, but if the right hand lane appears to be narrow, does it encourage motorists to use the left instead?

  40. ‘The takeaway would be: “this lane looks like one of them wide ones, that bicyclist should share the lane! HONK!”’

    I see. Aren’t you the one that says not to treat motorists like they are idiots? And if you do, you get idiotic behavior?

    While some people may be uncomfortable with trucks passing them in a 14 foot lane, I suspect that if the lane was 20 feet wide, they would still be uncomfortable as well. I know one person that frequents this board that feels that way. And if you are going to keep widening and widening, it isn’t hard to want a further separation? As in a barrier.

    I wonder if 15-16 feet (as advocated by some) once again takes the cyclist outside the sight line of the motorist.

  41. Aren’t you the one that says not to treat motorists like they are idiots?

    No. That was Hans Monderman. The context was road design and signage.

    You don’t have to keep widening. Go narrow. One vehicle, one lane. Change lanes to pass.

  42. “You don’t have to keep widening. Go narrow. One vehicle, one lane. Change lanes to pass.”

    The problem with that is the two lane roads. When they start carrying as many cars as a 4 lane road, I (at my speed) am a problem.

    I like the 14′ lane and as I have said, I can comfortably share a lane with a truck at that width. To say I must always take a lane is as dogmatic as to say I must never.

    I can tell you this, if you dogmatically insist on riding down the middle a 14′ lane, then I think you really are trying to piss off the motorists who will take out their frustrations out on me.

  43. “The problem with that is the two lane roads. When they start carrying as many cars as a 4 lane road, I (at my speed) am a problem.”

    I should clarify: We have two lane roads carrying 8,000-16,000 cars per day. Many 4 lane roads don’t carry that many cars per day.

    On a 12,000 car per day road, there is no chance of crossing the yellow line to pass a bike because there is always cars coming the other way.

    Me, at my pedestrian 7-10 MPH is really in the way and you can say fine to that, but I don’t think it is so fine.

  44. I can tell you this, if you dogmatically insist on riding down the middle a 14′ lane, then I think you really are trying to piss off the motorists who will take out their frustrations out on me.

    I will not share a 14 foot or less lane. Ever.

    I will not ride on a shoulder. Ever.

    I am not concerned with the emotional state of motorists. It is their responsibility to overtake me in a safe manner and with due care. I see no reason I should bear any of that burden.

    It is not that difficult to overtake a bicycle operator. If the road is so popular that there is too much traffic to overtake a bicycle safely, the motorist ought to consider finding another route. If the road is popular for automobiles to travel on, it is likely to be going where cyclists want to go too.

    Such is the nature of a PUBLIC road. Just because someone has a vehicle capable of high speeds, it gives them no special grant to always operate at the maximum speed. Nor does it require me to relinquish my ROW to them. If their travels were so important, they would be issued a red light and a siren.

    I have a right to travel on such public roads, unless I don’t. Then I have no right at all.

    And Eric, stop trying to shift the blame of someone’s evil behavior on to me.

  45. I’m not trying to shift anything.

    All I’m doing is pointing out that the “middle of the road” and “I have rights!” mentality can be carried too far.

    For me, it is 14′. What is it for you?

    And don’t forget that motorists have rights, too. They have a right to travel from one place to the other without aiming for the lowest common denominator when it comes to speed.

    If you won’t move over and let them past because oncoming cars will not allow them to cross that double yellow, then you are forcing them to travel at whatever speed you think they should.

  46. Eric don’t distort what I’m saying.

    I do share 14ft lanes on 2 lane roads. There are very few 2 lane roads with 14ft lanes and they almost never have commercial vehicles on them. I have been specifically referring to 14ft lanes on 4 lane roads with commercial vehicles. Most have low enough vehicle counts that it makes no difference to motorists to change lanes.

    I really don’t get why I have to repeat the same stuff in complete detail to the same people over and over or they misconstrue the message. My lane position is different on a 4 lane road than on a 2 lane road. I don’t feel any need to facilitate same-lane or straddle passing on a 4 lane road. Sometimes it’s appropriate to facilitate a straddle pass on a 2-lane road — depends on conditions. If traffic was very heavy on a 4-lane road with WCLs, and I could not avoid the road, I would probably share the lane simply because that would be less uncomfortable for me than having traffic pile up trying to get around me.

    I’m sure I’ve written that at least a dozen times and yet people take my recommendation for protecting ourselves on a 4 lane road and make it out to be road-hogging dogma that applies to every road and every condition. I getting really sick of that.

  47. In case you’ve forgotten, the point I’ve been making in this discussion was that it’s a bad idea to make lane position absolute with a sharrow on the edge of a wide lane because there are many conditions in which not practicable to share the lane.

  48. We have gotten somewhat off-track from the original premise of the post, but (I think) it would be a good idea to see how everyone feels about 2 lane road situations. At what size lane do you become comfortable sharing a lane with traffic — including occasional commercial vehicles and trailers? What would be the ideal situation or design for 2 lane roads that have heavy traffic?

    Suspect we have a wider range of differences on this than we do 4 lane roads or low-volume 2-lane roads …

    Maybe someone can work up a new post on that instead of continuing here ………..

  49. My brief answer to Andrew’s question:

    For comfort, I’d prefer 16 ft if there is commercial traffic. I have shared 13ft lanes to allow motorists to pass (but I don’t maintain that position as a default, I move over based on my assessment of what’s back there). A few times, I’ve allowed small cars to pass me within a 12ft lane when the situation warranted it. I’m OK with less clearance at slow speeds.

    I’ve also made mistakes, moving over to allow a car or two to pass and then discovered that there were 4 or 5 and as they increased speed I got pinned and buzzed.

    It’s difficult to define this in a concrete lesson form because I make lane-sharing decisions based on many years and miles of experience. And I still make mistakes when I’m feeling tired and timid.

  50. Eric wrote:

    “And don’t forget that motorists have rights, too. They have a right to travel from one place to the other without aiming for the lowest common denominator when it comes to speed.”

    There is no such right. The slowest user at a given point IS the defacto safe speed. For example, a stopped delivery vehicle requires others to stop or change lanes.

    “If you won’t move over and let them past because oncoming cars will not allow them to cross that double yellow, then you are forcing them to travel at whatever speed you think they should.”

    Often states have impeding laws that specify a number, such as 6, of vehicles that are held up for a spell that requires the slower driver to pull off the road when safe to do so. So bicyclists should be held to this as well. When bicyclists are held to share their lane that is very different and amounts to selective discrimination.

    Wayne

  51. Keri said “I’m OK with less clearance at slow speeds.”

    Exactly! And vice versa. The trendy 3 foot passing laws miss this point since they only specify minimum passing clearance, not maximum passing speed.

    “I’ve also made mistakes, moving over to allow a car or two to pass and then discovered that there were 4 or 5 and as they increased speed I got pinned and buzzed.”

    Been there, done that. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a reliable lane position or signal that communicates “okay to squeeze past, but slowly”. Maybe an unbent clothes hanger sticking out the left side of the bike? ;-)

  52. Eric wrote:

    “And don’t forget that motorists have rights, too. They have a right to travel from one place to the other without aiming for the lowest common denominator when it comes to speed.

    If you won’t move over and let them past because oncoming cars will not allow them to cross that double yellow, then you are forcing them to travel at whatever speed you think they should.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    In Florida law, passing is a privilege, not a right. A privilege that only may be exercised when it is safe to do so. I presume that the law elsewhere is the same.

    I remember driving fully-loaded five ton gravel trucks
    to and from quarries in Wisconsin along winding two-lane roads. When loaded, the trucks had a rather long stopping distance, so when I was in a town I would never driver faster than 25 MPH; 20 when raining. Same when I was in a rural area and couldn’t see around a curve due to trees or a hill.

    Although I was going rather less than the speed limits, I felt no desire whatsoever to “pull over and let them pass” when cars approached me from behind.

    All of us truck drivers took the same approach. Car drivers can follow us until it is safe to pass. And a few elementary laws of physics dictate that if a car driver does anything stupid around my fully-loaded five ton gravel truck, I will crush him like a bug.

    Car drivers seemed to understand this. They didn’t need any form of sophisticated education. They didn’t harass us. As far as I could tell, none of them seemed to think that we were “forcing them to travel at whatever speed you think they should.” they seemed to understand that we were just doing our job safely, getting the gravel to where it was going.

    Same with bicycles. When I’m taking the lane, I’m not “forcing” anyone to do anything. The car driver can follow behind me until it is safe for him to pass. Odds are it will only take a few minutes until that happens. Or he can turn at an intersection and go another way.

  53. Keri wrote:

    “I’ve also made mistakes, moving over to allow a car or two to pass and then discovered that there were 4 or 5 and as they increased speed I got pinned and buzzed.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    This is why if the vehicle doesn’t have a siren and flashing lights (or a funeral cortege or public transit vehicle) I never, ever budge from the primary lane position.

    Odds are that there will be a safe opportunity to pass in only a few minutes. If not, that’s not my problem.

  54. Andrew asked:

    “At what size lane do you become comfortable sharing a lane with traffic — including occasional commercial vehicles and trailers?”

    Kevin’s answer:

    It depends upon the traffic. I’m comfortable sharing most lanes with other bicycle traffic.

    But I’ve never been in a lane that was wide enough that I felt comfortable sharing it with large commercial vehicles and trailers.

  55. Keri said, “In case you’ve forgotten, the point I’ve been making in this discussion was that it’s a bad idea to make lane position absolute with a sharrow on the edge of a wide lane because there are many conditions in which not practicable to share the lane.”

    And my overall point was that sharrows can be effective in SOME cases, with placement being key (not in the gutter). Being new to the blog/list I’m not as familiar with everyone’s positions on various issues so I apologize if I’ve gotten your dander up. After reading your further nuanced comments we pretty much agree. Like you, I adapt my riding style to the conditions I’m faced with, and I’m a pretty defensive/assertive cyclist.

  56. ChipSeal, thank you for the update.

    Many of Russ Roca’s observations are in line with my speculation.

    His observation of club riders is instructive.

    The good news is, the paint doesn’t contradict what we teach. But it’s not going to replace education. And if you have to educate people anyway…