“Preferential Use”… oh wait, nevermind

So there I wuz, drivin’ down the highway and whaddya know, there’s one o them cars fulla people, all smug and righteous, right there in my lane! Not in the carpool lane. Oh no. In MY lane! My tax money paid for them special lanes, but no, uppity greenies think they can just use any dadgum lane they want.

MUTCD definitions:

Bicycle Lane—a portion of a roadway that has been designated for preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists by pavement markings and, if used, signs.

Preferential Lane—a highway lane reserved for the exclusive use of one or more specific types of vehicles or vehicles with at least a specific number of occupants.

It doesn’t matter what you call it

While bike lanes are defined as preferential lanes, just like bus lanes and carpool lanes, they really don’t function the same. For one thing, carpool and bus lanes actually benefit their users.

  • They keep the non-preferred vehicles out of their way, rather than the other way around. Yes, some bike lanes do this when traffic is backed up, but that is when a bike lane becomes most dangerous to the uninformed user.
  • They don’t place their users at a disadvantage by making them less visible to other users.
  • They don’t create crash conflicts with the users of other lanes.
  • They aren’t subject to sudden obstruction by car doors.
  • They don’t gather glass, trash, sand and organic debris.
  • They don’t cause their users to be disregarded and passed closer and faster by other road users.
  • Their intended users are not harassed by other users or targeted by police for not using them.
  • Their designs don’t routinely violate standards. But if mistakes are made or they are found to be unsafe, they are fixed immediately. The governing agency doesn’t shrug and say, “we’ll fix it in ten years when we resurface.”
  • And no one would ever consider making them mandatory.

The users of other preferential lanes are not exposed and vulnerable to serious injury when facing all of the above hazards… which are present in our mandatory “preferential” lanes, but not theirs.

As I’ve said before, a facility is only a good as the attitude of the culture that builds it. A culture that disrespects bicycle drivers and only wants them out of the way, will build marginal crap facilities to shove us into. Then they’ll pat us on the head and tell us they are doing us a favor. And if we could all have just stayed in our place, we coulda gone on pretending.

14 replies
  1. Wayne Pein
    Wayne Pein says:

    “Thank you Sir. May I have another?”

    -They are standard width, unlike sidewalk width (or typically narrower) bike lanes. Narrowness in part creates most of bike lanes’ problems.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Click the photo. Takes you to the post about it.

      The city has been maintaining the bike lane since our readers called. The grass is now edged and it is swept regularly.

      The drain grates are another story.

      And this is one of those squeeze jobs where the general travel lane is 10ft wide.

      trailer on primrose

      • Marty Cohen
        Marty Cohen says:

        I guess the question is, why is there a bike lane there anyway? Wouldn’t the community be better served with a nice wide sidewalk instead?

        • Eric
          Eric says:

          Since you love nice wide side walk/bicycle paths, I don’t doubt that you would ask that question.

          Here is the answer: NO!

          Pedestrians are killed by bicycles on sidewalks, just as they are killed by motor vehicles in the streets. Do you doubt this? Can’t you google?

          Pedestrians shouldn’t have to deal with vehicles of any type when they are walking on a sidewalk. A bicycle is a vehicle.Cyclists are not pedestrians on wheels.

          • Laura M
            Laura M says:

            Peds deal with vehicles all the time – how can they not? driveways, intersections, etc. There is no way to eliminate any and all conflicts – for bikes, for peds, for cars. Wide sidewalks aren’t for the benefit of bikes by the way and are quite appropriate in most areas. But we should probably define ‘wide’.

          • Frank
            Frank says:

            Marty never said you had to ride on the sidewalk, he just said it would be better to use the right of way on sidewalk (so bikes could take the lane). Which is it bike lane or take the lane?

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          In the sense of giving that space to pedestrians, yes. A substandard bike lane squeezed next to a narrow general travel lane is wasted asphalt. The section of Primrose with the bike lane is only 1/2 mile long and it is interrupted half way to make room for a left turn lane at Central. Primrose south of Anderson is narrow 2-lane and very easy to ride on. North of Robinson it is 4-lane with 10ft lanes, absolutely ideal for controlling the right lane.

        • Eric
          Eric says:

          “Wide sidewalks aren’t for the benefit of bikes by the way and are quite appropriate in most areas. But we should probably define ‘wide’.”

          Unless the City of Orlando says they are appropriate. Then they make cyclists stop 5 times in 1/3 of a mile and ignoring this statement in the Florida Greenbook:

          “As noted in the Department’s Bicycle
          Facilities Planning and Design Handbook, excessively wide sidewalks may
          not necessarily add to pedestrian and bicycle safety. Wide sidewalks may
          encourage higher speed bicycle use and can increase the potential for
          conflict with motor vehicles at intersections and driveways, as well as with
          pedestrians and fixed objects.”

          • Laura M
            Laura M says:

            Again, context is everything. There are 10′ wide sidwalks in Orlando’s CBD that are not excessively signed with stop signs or other traffic control devices. And cyclists have no business riding on them, in fact it’s against City code to do so.

            Wide sidewalks are very desirable along main streets and urban cores. Funny thing, when the number of peds increases, motorist behavior improves making conditions better for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

            Now, if you want to talk about side-paths or multi-use trails, that’s a whole other ball of wax. And yes, the City was wrong to put up all those superfluous signs along the Cady Way Trail extension as has already been pointed out.

    • Jayeson
      Jayeson says:

      John, Keri’s example isn’t so bad. If you are bored there are some more snippets of crappy Central Florida bike lane in this video I took during bike to work week: http://www

      . You don’t want to let someone on a mountain bike lead you down those lanes. Don’t ask me how I know this.

      In places the bike markings have lifted off the road. I wonder how much of the bike logo is required for it to be “marked for bicycle travel”. Does one wheel lying half in the car lane count? There are also half mile sections terribly maintained, unmarked shoulders that meet up with marked bike lanes. I probably don’t want to know which parts are legally considered bike lanes. I’m not sure I even want to request any of this to be fixed since some of the existing repair work is worse than the pot holes.

  2. Columbusite
    Columbusite says:

    Very insightful and original as usual.

    Personally, sidewalk cyclists don’t bother me as long as they’re traveling at pedestrian speeds and act like pedestrians on wheels. They’re much safer when acting like that as are the pedestrians around them. It’s the ones blazing down the sidewalk that should without a doubt get on the street.

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