Bicycling Infrastructure We Can Live Without

Oh, dear me! Another city (Indianapolis) tries to accomodate bicyclists by painting some “creatively” designed lanes.

This could go in the Cycling Infrastructure Hall of Shame. The video is cringe inducing.

27 replies
  1. Eric
    Eric says:

    Wow. I am impressed. Taking a 12 foot wide line and turning into 10 and 2. I wonder how many years they had to study transportation to come up with that brilliant idea.

  2. Keri
    Keri says:

    Excellent footage. The oblivious bicyclist thrust into a gauntlet with everyone braking and swerving around him like a hapless cow in Mumbai. Love the end, too. The bicyclist swoops a left turn from the bike lane when he gets to the intersection. You can’t fix stupid. But you can definitely make it worse. When you paint a static merge into a dynamic environment, you manufacture conflict. They KNOW they manufactured conflict, so they painted it green, like that’s somehow going to solve the problem.

    The escapades of the “bike friendlies” becomes more asinine every day.

  3. Tom Armstrong
    Tom Armstrong says:

    Ah, good old “India-no-place.”

    I’ve long been of two minds about bike lanes, anyway, but poorly-designed stuff like this is a pet peeve. “Bad for all road users” doesn’t translate into endearing folks to cycling (which may be the point of the bad design…).

    • Steve A
      Steve A says:

      Tom may have hit on something with the observation that making cyclists pariahs might actually be the hidden agenda for some of the proponents. I prefer the theory of the ignorant and mostly uncaring motorist designing stuff for “other” people since I think a massive “make cyclists more hated” conspiracy would be implausible to pull off.

      • Eric
        Eric says:

        “Conspiracy” is the wrong word. Sociology has a better word for it, “more.” A more (pronounced mawr-ey) is “folkway[s] of central importance accepted without question and embodying the fundamental moral views of a group.” — from
        “The customs and manners of a social group or culture. Mores often serve as moral guidelines for acceptable behavior but are not necessarily religious or ethical.”
        and I might add, legal.

        By riding a bicycle on a four lane highway, the cyclist is violating a more. It’s perfectly legal, but it is something “only a nut would do.” Complaints about the lack of bicycle lanes exaggerates the violation and you can see the results in the video.

        The planner or engineer broke every rule in the book with this design and could do it because the book is just made up of recommendations. Ironically, we are upset at this because he or she broke one of our mores. It could be more than that, but I am not familiar with the laws of that state.

          • Kevin Love
            Kevin Love says:

            Yes, that’s a bad book. See also their suicidal door zone bike lanes where the most dangerous place on the entire road to ride a bike… is in the bike lane.

            Proper intersection design isn’t rocket science. There’s an excellent video here:


            For those who are not transportation geeks, part 2 of the video series may be far more interesting. Part 1 is the design theory, but part 2 is video clips showing the designs in use in a variety of situations.

          • Eric
            Eric says:

            I took a long look at that diagram and I am truly shocked. This is a mankiller. I sure hope that isn’t what FDOT or the City of Orlando is planning for us.

          • MikeOnBike
            MikeOnBike says:

            The “diagonal magic carpet” criss-cross makes it very unclear who has the right of way, since both cyclists and right-turning motorists are changing lanes simultaneously.

            I notice in the diagram that the bike lane starts out “buffered”. If the bike lane had been consistently adjacent to the travel lane, always parallel to the travel lane, then cyclists would not be changing lanes. They’d simply continue straight like any normal through lane.

            Then it would be quite obvious that through cyclists have the right of way, and right-turning traffic has to merge across the bike lane (and yield to trafffic) in that lane.

            In other words, draw the bike lane as if it’s a half-width #2 travel lane.

            Don’t force cyclists into a slalom course. The NACTO folks seem to have a fetish about shifting cyclists to and fro like drunken sailors.

            If you’re going to have a bike lane, treat it as one more (mini) travel lane. Once you do that, the rest of the design is simple, and doesn’t require “creative” solutions to a self-inflicted problem.

      • Kevin Love
        Kevin Love says:

        To quote my father,

        “Never ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity, ignorance or incompetence.”

  4. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Wow!! What a crappy road. There are, of course, reasons why there are professional engineering standards for roads and public space: To avoid these dangers. To stop killling and injuring people. The benchmark of excellence being the Dutch CROW engineering standard.

    It is almost amusing watching the violations of the CROW standard shown.

    Whoever is responsible for this with the City of Indianapolis needs to have a RTFM moment.

    What we REALLY need are for cities to hire professional engineers who apply proper engineering standards. No city would build a bridge over a river without a professional engineer signing off on it. The mindset should be exactly the same for roads.

    More people have been killed by roads not being built to professional engineering standards (eg CROW) than have been killed by bridges collapsing.

    There are a wonderful set of “before and after” as well as comparison street scenes “right way vs. wrong way” shown here:

    I just love the photos of the 1960’s roads clogged with 1960’s cars. And then the identical space fixed and filled with cyclists today.

  5. NE2
    NE2 says:

    It’s a little hard to see what’s going on from the video, but it looks like there are two conflict points shown. One has the bike lane ending and becoming sharrows, but the green paint encourages cyclists to change lanes without yielding. The other has the right lane becoming a turn lane, and the bike lane shifts to the left with no indication of who has right-of-way. Solutions are left as an exercise for the reader.

  6. Angelo
    Angelo says:

    Does this leave doubt about why the bike lanes are mandatory? Recent bike lanes locally are also installed to the right of right turn arrows, and advocates still say it’s better than no bike lanes. Many discontinuous bike lanes are installed when roads are repaved or restriped, but one lane ends at an intersection because there is an 8″ curb on the other side. If you let the bike lane keep you out of the main travel lane, you run into the curb.

    With lanes like this, I’m tired of hearing that well designed bike lanes improve safety. Bicycling probably is safer in Europe, but if so it is because there is public acceptance for punishing motorists that injure bicyclists or violate their right of way. I can’t see installing bike lanes with no standards improving safety here – mandatory use is required (regardless of law) because cyclists won’t use substandard facilities voluntarily.

  7. Keri
    Keri says:

    “…advocates still say it’s better than no bike lanes. ”

    I hear this a lot too with regard to substandard craplanes. It’s like saying poisoned candy is better then no candy while you’re using the candy to replace a healthy meal that you’re throwing in the dumpster.

    This is what I want to do to people who say that:

    • Angelo
      Angelo says:

      I like the video clip, but I’m not sure trying to slap these people into awareness will help me win friends and influence people.

      • Keri
        Keri says:

        No, it wouldn’t. But it would feel so good, for a moment.

        The unwillingness of bike advocates to engage in critical thinking is infuriating. It’s hard not to become exasperated to the point of wanting to just give up.

        Some days I’m drawn to the thought of just buying another motorcycle so I could enjoy advocates and an industry who give a shit about my actual safety and right to the road.

        • David
          David says:

          Hey, I have something for you to chew on this Thanksgiving;

          I was inspired to print this on the back of my business card:

          “I believe bicyclists riding with the rules of the road while communicating clearly and powerfully are treated far better than we can imagine.” (Why)

          “TIP — How To Get Into A Line Of Traffic:
          Look behind so drivers can see you’re checking traffic to merge. Most drivers “get it” and make room for you. Practice so your lane position arm signaling and looking, timed to fit the context of the road and traffic, look smooth like a dance so motorists’ cooperation comes quickly and naturally.” (How)

          “Want more? Get my Free Report “The Six Biggest Myths that Steer Bicyclists in the Wrong Direction…Are You at Risk? at BicycleDriver.Com” (What)

          Why are the segregationists winning? Well it starts with their marketing, followed by their politics and economics that is overwhelming their competition.

          If we’re going to have equal access to public roads under a common set of rules for drivers, then from Sinek’s example we’ll have to compete from “why” to “how” to “what”.

          With segregation there needs to be separated space. That’s easiest along the road, and enforced by “buffered” lanes. For turns and intersections they are getting rid of MERGING for destination because that shares the same space under common rules. The segregated or “Colored” space functions as a crosswalk not perpendicular to the road but down the road and ahead of intersections to a different lane. By the brilliance of paint, the motorist is now responsible to yield, even when the bicyclist has the better view and ability to cooperate. Of course, this problem will be taken care of later with fully buffered bike lanes and cycle tracks. They’ll be improved by separate signal phases and therefore fully pedestrian behavior with all its functional disadvantages such as pedestrian and intersection only left turns.

          The excuses offered for pedestrian bicycling behavior are simply brilliant from a marketing perspective, politically powerful as its emerging from unbelievable to dominating, and economically stupefying in turning free bicycling into a multi-billion dollar perpetual industry and public expense.

          It’s useless to get angry or try to get even. And its a quagmire to respond to their excuses. It simply requires assessing the appeal at the ” why, how, what” levels and matching it. It’s the “why” that puts you out front, the “how” and “what” simply back it up. And, I think Sinek is saying: you’ll never get there going backwards.

          What do you think?

  8. Angelo
    Angelo says:


    I’m still not how your paradigm can be used to support the right to the road. I find if I explain the why, the premise that it is legal and safe is routinely rejected as irrelevant by motorists, advocates, and planners.

    Locally, motorists are not responsible yield to bicyclists in the bike lane. This is not enforced. There is (locally) no penalty for parking in the bike lane, but motorists still get angry if bicyclists leave bike lane. Penalties for right hooks or overtaking collisions are only enforced if the motorist is drunk (i.e. if he hit 4 cars and kills a bicyclist in Philadelphia, there is a commotion, but typically not if a sober motorist avoids other cars). Trails get red lights (stop and wait until it is clear) while the roads get yellow lights (use caution). Planners kept telling me motorists have the right of way and bicyclists should always be in the bike lane until a job change made it harder to attend public meetings.

    Do your planners ride bicycles? Ours ride casually, because they are afraid to ride in traffic. If they make me use the facilities they design, I’ll have to walk my bike because that is the only bicycling they are comfortable with, and the door zones comply with (optional) federal standards.

    I don’t think it starts with marketing or why – it’s culture and taboo. Even beginners that I’ve explained riding in the center of the lane too admit it works better than riding in the gutter or in bike lanes while college students unload their cars on moving day, but point out that there is no social acceptance – even riders in lycra frequently ride in the door zones.

    The planners routinely reject comments from bikers that ride from transportation not because they deny the truth of their comments but because they consider their goals too foreign and the riders too far from the mainstream. Their how (riding in traffic) is unacceptable and the why is too weird (riding more than 2 miles at more than 5-6mph). The planners admit it may support alleged government aims to ride to the shopping center, but if nobody does it, it must not be possible for most people. This proves (to them) there is no point to designing facilities for feats that most riders will never be able to do.

    Have you had more favorable responses locally? I hear other states have painted left turn bike lanes and calibrate traffic signals to respond to bicycles (practice and response to requests varies widely in this area).

  9. David
    David says:


    (Why) is not that it is legal and safe, that’s a (What). According to Sinek you’ll have trouble with that and you’re reporting trouble, so that fits.

    If you’re interested, take another look at the video, take notes and reapply his innovation to bicycling. If you can get started in the right direction, things may fall into place.

    Also, pay attention to the Law of Diffusion of Innovation. Where do you think the “motorists, advocates, and planners” fit on that curve? What part of the curve does Sinek say needs targeting and how?

    In Seattle, we have one of the largest bike clubs in the nation and they helped get the mayor elected. He is a Sierra Club bike activist, and in return the Mayor hired the Political Advocacy Director of the bike club to help him get that bike infrastructure built that in the mayor’s words let everyone know where they belong on the road.

  10. Angelo
    Angelo says:


    Thanks for your response. I still think your environment sounds very different. To clarify, my why for riding is that I want to go the same places other people do (i.e. motorists) and the bicycle is easy and convenient.

    I agree that the safe and legal is a what. I discussed the what because the local planners nominally agree with the why, but totally reject the how (use any road) and what (bicyclists can leave residential developments and legally use any road that is not an Interstate – true but not popular)

    Their preconception of what is safe and legal (bicyclists can only ride in shoulders or bike lanes)effectively prevents bicycle transportation. (On many of these roads the shoulder is not continuous, and continuous legal bike lanes are very rare since they can only install them by removing traffic lanes or parking).

    While the traffic code is quite explicit about bicyclists’ right to use public roads and even describes bicyclists turns from the left lane, this is summarily rejected as violating common sense (planners, lower court judges). and not supported by advocates (beginners are afraid to ride in traffic so nobody should).

    They know they cannot openly reject the why, but by dismissing the how and what that make it possible they make the why a theoretical fantasy with no bearing in reality.

    I don’t know what the facilities in Seattle are like. While the local advocates claim to have gotten beyond “we can’t insist on bike lanes that are wide enough to avoid being doored because then we won’t get any lanes at all” (email from 2002), most of the bike lanes on the ground are still in door zones, and bike lanes to the right of right turn lanes are still being installed in 2010 and 2011. And the bicycle coalition still praises these facilities in public.

  11. Mighk Wilson
    Mighk Wilson says:

    Belief Change is the missing component. You don’t have to change someone’s beliefs to get them choose your smart phone over somebody else’s smart phone.

    The “Why” depends on who the audience is and what you’re selling. If we’re selling “vehicular cycling,” which means “driving your bike as you would a car,” people usually react negatively because they believe it’s impossible (either generally or for them personally).

    To me the Product (the What) is A Traffic Cycling Course. The Why is “You can ride anywhere you like, any time, with confidence and safety.” It doesn’t say How (How is in the course itself.) This Why appeals to the desire to ride without getting into specifics. Show those specifics too early and the customer might balk.

    CyclingSavvy addresses the belief problem as part of the curriculum.

    Get them in the door with the Why of Ride Now (rather than wait for your broke government to “build bike paths”). Change their beliefs with effective conversation and imagery; show them How.

  12. David
    David says:


    Your “The Why is “You can ride anywhere you like, any time, with confidence and safety”” is the best I’ve seen.

    I’m wondering about this:

    (Why?) Bicyclists who face the difficulties of diversity and overcome them improve their personal resilience. They will be healthier, smarter, stronger and more capable in their mobility and their lives. They’ll learn curiosity, optimism, and motivation in the face of challenges and participate in building strong cultures of responsibility, capability and equality.

    Even if avoiding traffic and receiving special treatment designed to make bicyclists feel comfortable where shown to work as well, or even a little better, I would rather learn to be a strong person who can get along with people in diverse situations.

    After an NPR story about a reporter recovering from a bike crash using SuperBetter I was looking here:

    Where a paragraph reads:

    “We believe that instead of being diminished by obstacles in our way, we can grow stronger-much stronger. In fact, science tells us that dramatic, positive changes can occur in our lives as a direct result of facing an extreme challenge-whether it be coping with a serious illness, daring to quit smoking, or dealing with depression. We call this getting SuperBetter!”

    Bicyclists’ challenge is not actually extreme, it’s just that people have figured out how to benefit from getting people to feel that way about bicycling. It’s extreme in the context of vehicle segregation culture, particularly where it treats PEOPLE differently, not necessarily all cases where it includes or excludes different vehicles.

    Thats the best I can do for now.

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