Where would you ride?

median separated lane

[poll id=”7″]

Want more info? It’s Wekiva Springs Road. You can see more here.

24 replies
  1. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Thanks for this post.

    Substitute a curb on the RH side for the white line, make the road a foot or so wider, add some attractive median landscaping and decorative brick, make the path a foot wider (and windier), and you have Glade Road in Colleyville. My “Nemesis” road.

  2. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    It is necessary to exercise lane control on this road to prevent motor vehicles from unsafe passing.


    A bicycle and rider is about 1M wide, and requires 1/2M on each side for “swerve room” to avoid obstacles. This is why the recommended lane width for bicycle roads is 2M; a utility bicycle going 30-40 km/hr requires 2M for safety.

    What about passing a bicycle?

    On the road shown, safe passing room for faster motor vehicles is 1M. Commercial vehicles can be up to 2 1/2 M wide, and require 1/2M “swerve room” on their left side for safety.

    So add it all up to get the minimum road width for a cyclist to allow a motorist to safely pass in the same lane: 6M. Although I’m just eyeballing it, there is no way that the road shown is 6M wide, and therefore it is unsafe for a motor vehicle to pass a cyclist in the traffic lane as shown.

  3. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    BTW, it would be illegal to ride “on the yellow line” in Texas in the photo. I checked carefully, specifically w.r.t. Glade Road.

    In Texas, riding in that position is allowed only on a one-way road with MORE than one lane. I’ll leave it to others to see if Florida’s law is the same.

  4. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    It should be noted that the median section is not very long; perhaps a couple hundred yards. So motorists can pass after the median section.

  5. Brian
    Brian says:

    Honestly? If I were in a hurry to get somewhere, I’d ride in the right tire track. Wouldn’t be fun, but it’d be the fastest way. If I could afford the extra time to stop at every driveway and intersection, I’d ride on the sidewalk. I find myself in both situations daily.

  6. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Philosophical question:

    Why are the interests of a faster traveler deemed more important than the interests of a slower traveler in our culture?

  7. Keri
    Keri says:

    Geez Mighk! That’s a blog post of its own 😉

    Later, I will post personal observations about that road—and specifically that section of it. I have quite a few, as I have used it a lot. It is the most direct route to get out to Lake County and all the great cycling routes around Mount Dora. It also leads to a desirable destination—Wekiva Springs State Park.

  8. Keri
    Keri says:

    Lyle, I think the speed limit is 30 or 35 there, I can’t remember which. Actual speeds are slightly higher, but not a lot as the narrowed road does tend to keep them down.

  9. acline
    acline says:

    Keri… I’ll take a stab at Mighk’s question, too re: Why are the interests of a faster traveler deemed more important than the interests of a slower traveler in our culture?

  10. Keri
    Keri says:

    In the briefest possible terms:

    Because we’ve designed our lives that way. Bad land use and long commute times coupled with the stress of the pointless gerbil wheel most people have consigned their lives to in order to keep up with the demands of hyper-consumerism.

    It is our cultural disease and therefore all the institutions of our culture support and cater to it.

  11. JohnB
    JohnB says:

    I chose “near the center”, because I know that’s the best answer, but in reality I’m not sure how comfortable I would be, depending on other factors which I can’t tell from the picture, such as how far it continues on like that and how many intersections there are. (I might actually be tempted to use the sidewalk if it goes a long way without intersections, although I wouldn’t like it!)

    Re: faster travelers being deemed more important: I think it’s simply that faster travelers are more frequently perceived as going somewhere for a purpose, whereas slower travelers (bikes, even slower cars sometimes) are perceived as just out for a ride, and therefore don’t really have to be using this particular road. The perception of bicycles as primarily recreational certainly contributes to this assumption. Most non-cyclists still can’t imagine actually using a bicycle for transportation, unless maybe you can’t afford a car, in which case you might get sympathy or not, depending on the person’s political views about poverty. But a lycra rider on a road bike? He obviously can afford a car, so he must be choosing to use this busy road for his recreation (goes the thinking), and that is certainly a less important use of it than my driving my car on it to get somewhere specific.

    Not sure if this fits into the discussion, but it reminds me of when I was a kid visiting my grandparents, and my grandfather used to enjoy taking the car out for a nice leisurely drive along the river, usually on a Sunday afternoon, just to get out and see the sights. I wonder how many motorists still do that?

  12. Eric
    Eric says:

    “just to get out and see the sights. I wonder how many motorists still do that?”

    A lot more than think they do. Some people drive to the grocery store either every day or every-other-day. They will tell you that they are driving for purpose.

  13. Keri
    Keri says:

    OK, here’s my experience on the road in question (FWIW):

    First of all, I hate this road design. If you’re going to separate lanes, don’t make it impossible for a car to pass a cyclist—make the effing lane wide enough to share. Yes, of course, in a perfect world there would not be an imperative to pass and motorists would have the perspective to realize that waiting 30 seconds makes zero difference in their trip time. But it ain’t a perfect world and as such, all the discomfort gets transferred to cyclist.

    Mighk said the distance is short. Yes it is. And yet it can feel like an eternity with a line of cars climbing up your back. The median section is broken by a cross street and a short left-turn lane. That space is long enough for 1-3 cars to pass (depending on the speed of the cyclist). For some reason, I have often ended up with more cars than that trailing—even early morning on weekends. When one goes, it starts a stampede. I’ve gotten to the next median with a car still trying to pass, then it’s a game of chicken—is he going to stop and wait or zoom in and cut me off?

    Lane position on the road. I’ve tried them all (well, not the yellow line, that was a joke).

    For years I rode the white line. It works OK as long as it’s only cars that are passing. The clearance is less than 3 feet, but the speed differential isn’t that great for a cyclist going 18-20, which I usually was. However, one day I was behind a utility trailer (like the one in the second photo here). It filled the lane, leaving mere inches on either side — not the width of a human body. And I’ve noticed that almost every time I’m on that road there are utility trailers and box trucks. Last time I went through there, I was last in a group of 4 — I had a box truck behind totally crowding me, if we had left the slightest hint of space in the lane, the driver would have shoved that truck right into it and probably hit us. Do you really want to trust your safety to an impatient stranger who’s judgment is completely unknown? I don’t.

    Right tire track. This is a default position on many narrow 2-lane roads. It’s the balance between assertiveness and courtesy—facilitating passing while encouraging better clearance by making the motorist use a significant portion of the oncoming lane. In a narrow, median-separated lane, facilitating passing is not relevant. The object is to prevent passing. Nonetheless, I tried the right tire track, hoping the motorists would recognize that they couldn’t pass. Um. They didn’t. What they did was, they squeezed their cars into the remaining space to the left. Of course, that meant they were close enough to shave my legs, so I instinctively moved right. The first car was the thin edge of the wedge, opening a bigger gap for the bullying herd to shove me ever-closer to the white line.

    What I learned was: if you need to control the lane, control it for real. Don’t pussyfoot around. Ride in the middle.

    (I’m probably going to get an earful for saying this, but) If you’re riding really slow and you’re not in the mood to do that, the sidewalk is safer than riding on the edge of the lane (provided you understand the intersection issues and act accordingly). I’m not being snarky about this. Not everyone wants to be forced to block the path of ignorant motorists.

    In the urban core this kind of road design less of an issue (it still sucks, but motorists tend to be more tolerant). This road is in the outer burbs. A few miles west, the speed limit becomes 40 or 45 and the traffic speeds increase to near 60. It is a road used by people who live too far from town and are frustrated by their commutes. It is a road I will only use in the early weekend mornings to get out to Lake County. Coming back later in the day, I have an alternate which is 2 miles longer but has more shade and fewer hostile beings.

  14. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Now, tell me – on this same road, if it was this way for a full mile, or two, instead of a couple hundred yards, what would you do? So far, the only thing I’ve come up with is to periodically find a safe place to pull off when the resulting stackup gets a little much.

  15. ChipSeal
    ChipSeal says:

    I wouldn’t care about the length, Steve. If the motorist is so inconvenienced by me using that particular PUBLIC road, they can bloody well find a different route next time.

    They are welcome to use the sidewalk as well.

    When motorists start paying for their fair share of maintaining the roads, perhaps then they would have a case for priority access.

    It is not a crime to annoy a motorist. Why does doing so create such anxiety for cyclists?

  16. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    ChipSeal: using a different analogy, if you were in line to catch a flight, and the person in front of you was having some kind of difficulty or arguement about his arrangements and it was taking lots of time to resolve, wouldn’t it be nice (civil) if this person could be moved over so the rest of the folks waiting in line could be processed?

    I know all the arguments — that if they were late for their flight, it’s their fault not the fault of the person who is argueing at the head of the line. You’ll also say that no one is being inconvienienced for very long.

    But if you see that the person arguing could step aside with the agent and let everyone else through, wouldn’t you agree that is both a civil jesture that accomodates a large number of people without unduely creating a hardship for the person stepping aside?

  17. ChipSeal
    ChipSeal says:

    I reject the analogy.

    The cyclist on this road is not arguing. He is traveling at a reasonable speed for cyclist.

    Would you be upset in a air-terminal by a person in a wheelchair making your passage from the ticket counter to the boarding gate slower? Or should one be expected to make a reasonable accommodation for him? Should you shout at him to hurry up? Bump him with your carry-on luggage as you squeeze by? Angrily suggest to him to take another route? Throw trash at him?

    Why is the cyclist the only road user that is expected to compromise? My point of the above post is that every “reason” given demanding the cyclist relinquish his right-of-way can just as well be turned on the motorist if one first assumes equality of access to the public roadway.

    When motoring on the public way, there is a whole lot of impeding going on, but it is only the cyclist that gets grief over it.

  18. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    You make some good points with the wheelchair analogy, but remember that in many places we have separate facilities to accomodate wheelchair and disabled folks. Are you saying that we need to eliminate these as they are a bad idea? See where this is going? (i.e bikelanes) …. 😉

    My point of the above post is while you may have the RIGHT, you don’t have to exercise it every time …. that is a part of civility.

  19. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    In principle, I agree with ChipSeal entirely.

    But for me, the reality is different. I really don’t like a pack of cars backed up behind me. I don’t like it on a bike. I don’t like it if I’m driving an RV. I don’t like holding up people behind me in line at the grocery store because I’m not ready to check out or if I have a cartful and the lady behind has one item and cash in hand. I know I’m not alone in this.

    However, on my own version of this particular road, I grit my teeth and ride straight down the middle, despite the “Safe Routes to School” path alongside the road. The result – to an observer, ChipSeal and I would look pretty much the same in the way we ride the road.

    Ironically, it’s partly BECAUSE of that stinkin path. The main reason for the teeth gritting is the motorists behind me aren’t the cause of the problem. Civility is something I value highly, but in a case like this, it offers a crutch to the inexcusable lack of same by the road designers that ought to know better. And neither THOSE (expletive deleted) nor their little politician friends ought to be encouraged.

  20. PM Summer
    PM Summer says:

    “You make some good points with the wheelchair analogy, but remember that in many places we have separate facilities to accomodate wheelchair and disabled folks. Are you saying that we need to eliminate these as they are a bad idea? See where this is going?”

    The danger is going the other way (less access for cyclists). Wheelchairs are not vehicles. Chip was speaking about the analogy as it relates to people and human interaction. Andrew has invoked the Americans with Disabilities Acts as it relates to pedestrians (which is what a wheelchair user is).

    Bicycles are vehicles in Florida, albeit slow(er)-moving ones. They are not pedestrians. Nor handicapped road-users. To reclassify bicycles as something less than vehicles (say, as toy-vehicles) is to threaten the right of access we currently hold (and require for mobility).

    Mr. Seal speaks of people who have been denied access, which the ADA has attempted to address with requirements for special facilities. As great as those facilities are, I don’t know a single wheelchair bound person who wouldn’t trade his ADA required facilities for the true freedom of movement and access that non wheelchair bound folks take for granted.

    The more “special facilities” that are provided, the more “special restrictions” we begin to see imposed. Bicycle “advocates” in cities like Portland have already begun discussing the possibility of accepting “cars only” local streets as a trade-off for “bicycle only” facilities.

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