Every Lane is a Bike Lane

Let’s hear it for unambiguous signage!

From an article in the San Fransisco Examiner:

SAN CARLOS – Margaret Pye remembers the honking, shouting and tailgating she endured while commuting home.

The bicyclist grew tiresome of the treatment she received from drivers in San Carlos, and fought for equal access to the roads by lobbying city leaders for a unique kind of sign.

Instead of “share the road” signs, which Pye said are ineffective, the city recently installed “change lanes to pass” signs on the two-lane portion of Brittan Avenue that links El Camino Real to U.S. Highway 101. It notifies drivers that bicyclists have full access to a car lane: if drivers want to speed past them, they must switch lanes.

Once the sign went up this summer, the honking quickly stopped, she said.

“I believe the motorists understand and do what they’re supposed to do,” Pye said. “I think it’s been a significant difference.”

Personally, I rarely get honked at for using a full lane, but there are some roads where motorists are more territorial than others. And they are certainly less tolerant in dense traffic (despite the fact that it is the other motorists who are causing their delay). I think this sign and the white one which says “Bikes May Use Full Lane” are a step in the right direction. They are certainly more meaningful than the “Share the Road” sign which is an ambiguous message that seems to get turned around on us—as if it’s our obligation to let motorists squeeze past.

Perhaps if more cyclists recognized their right to the full use of the lane, they’d see how easy and enjoyable it is to command their space and control their environment. And then they might begin to see what a hoax bike lanes are. Why would you want 4 feet when you can have 10? Why would you want a limited rat maze of gutter lanes when you can have the entire transportation grid of surface streets? Why spend $1.5 million per mile for marginalization, limitation, dependency, reduced passing clearance and a decrease in safety at intersections, when a far cheaper investment in educating the public about the rights and duties of bicyclists would would make our lives so much better?

If we have the resources for segregation, we have the resources for education. It’s simply a matter of priority. Do we SOLVE the problem or cater to it?

“If American bicycle advocacy leaders had championed the civil rights movement, the “Dream” would have been reserved seating in the back of the bus.”
Jack R. Taylor

Cycling advocates should work toward a world where bicyclists are expected, accepted, and respected users of the public roads. Let’s work for a world where no signs are necessary to inform road users of our right to use the road. Roads are for people. Every lane is a bike lane. Never settle for less and don’t tolerate “bike advocates” who waste time and resources to move you from the full lane (to which you are already entitled) to a gutter lane… or worse.

12 replies
  1. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    As the newly appointed (volunteered) “webmaster” of the daytona bike club, I’ve become the focus for ride posts throughout the state. I recently received this:
    On Wed Oct 22 22:57 , ‘Michelle Avola’ sent:


    I am with Naples Pathways Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group working to make a fully integrated and safe transportation network of sidewalks, bike lanes, bike paths, and multi-use paths and greenways, to be used by cyclists, pedestrians, and other non-motorized users, throughout Naples and Collier County a reality.

    I replied that it was unfortunate that such an organization exists, but I did post the requested rides to the calendar. My response to her was received in part:

    We advocate Complete Streets which have sidewalks and bike lanes on clearly marked roads. We advocate sharing the road, the 3 foot passing law, and the use of bicycle lanes when possible, because there are too many uneducated, angry, aggressive drivers for those who are less experienced/less confident cycling on the road and claiming their lane.

    I see too much of this mindset, that the cyclists should be segregated, rather than educate the motoring public.

    Ed Deaton at http://www.fooldacrow.com is now offering to sell signs with the three-foot passing law, for five dollars each, to be posted by riders on their regular routes.

    I’ll have to drop him a line to suggest that the Yehuda Moons among us purchase signs like the ones in this entry, because they certainly mean a lot more, in my opinion.

  2. Keri
    Keri says:

    I’ve heard the Naples ride is really beautiful. I don’t have a problem with MUPs and greenways. Parks are a valuable part of the commons. And sometimes they even serve a transportation function (like Cady Way).

    After half a week at ProBike/ProWalk, I’ve seen one too many “compete streets” presentations which turned an ugly 4 lane road into a pretty 3 lane road with door zone bike lanes.

    The trees and the sidewalks are wonderful! But don’t stripe a door zone bike lane in place of a 10 foot travel lane and tell me you’re doing me a favor! Whatever other purpose that serves, it has nothing to do with the well-being of cyclists.

    I’m all for pedestrian infrastructure. Pedestrians need sidewalks, crosswalks, countdown timers, etc. (and respect from vehicle drivers!)

    Cyclists fare best when we act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. We need smooth pavement, traffic light sensors that detect us, secure places to park and courtesy from other vehicle drivers. Once those issues are addressed, we can talk about intelligent infrastructure that benefits intelligent bicyclists.

  3. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Keri, of course you know my ambivalent but general support for bike lanes…
    I just wanted to point out that the $1.5 million per mile figure is way out of line with reality. The only local bike lane installation to even approach that amount was Lakemont because it involved adding pavement to an existing roadway. In most cases where bike lanes are included the extra costs are virtually nil, since it’s done with the same amount of pavement and right-of-way (or adds at most an additional four feet over the old 14-foot curb lane standard; Theo Petritsch estimated the average cost of adding bike lanes at about 1%; certainly way less than the normal variation in costs for road projects). A few thousand dollars extra for pavement markings and signs is usually the only additional cost.
    Setting aside the pros and cons for cyclists, bike lanes provide benefits for pedestrians, emergency vehicles, and motorists (improved sightlines where on-street parking exists). The money issue is really not the point.
    Now sidepaths…complete agreement there!

  4. Keri
    Keri says:

    If you already have the pavement width, you don’t need a bike lane. What the pavement width giveth, the stripe taketh away.

  5. Brian
    Brian says:

    One minor gripe about sign in the photo – it uses California Vehicle Code 21202 as justification for using the full lane. Actually, CVC 21202 is the law that restricts full lane use and requires lane sharing – but has exceptions for making left turns, avoiding debris, narrow lanes, etc. So the fact is that the cyclist can use the full lane because CVC 21202 DOESN’T apply! A more appropriate legal reference would be CVC 21200 (cyclists have same rights and duties as other drivers) and CVC 21654 (slow drivers must be in the rightmost lane, but can be anywhere in that lane).

  6. Keri
    Keri says:

    Thanks Brian! I wouldn’t have looked that up.

    And the point you bring up is very important. The FTR law is a discriminatory redundancy to the slow vehicle law. That’s a another good use of energy for cycling advocates — defending the rights of cyclists by fighting discriminatory laws!

  7. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    I like the signage (more focused message) …

    As for bike lanes ….

    There are appropriate places for bike lanes. Take Livingston Street as it heads to downtown. The street was cobblestoned, I guessing, to give that part of downtown a certain “look” or “feel”. I’m very grateful to have a bike lane that is smoothly paved in those areas. Taking the lane and riding on that cobblestone would be rough on both rider and bike.

    I’m not ready to say there is no reason for bike lanes, just that they are not a panacea for all situations …..

  8. Keri
    Keri says:

    My primary opposition is to bike lanes in a dense urban area where a cyclist really needs to control his/her space. I have zero tolerance for any bike lane which decreases safety, sends a message of improper road position (DZBL, coffin corner, etc.) or lures novices into a complicated environment they don’t understand.

    On the whole, I prefer multi-lane roads with narrow lanes for the same reason – it’s safer and easier to control your space in a general traffic lane than to be relegated to the edge of the road. If traffic volume warrants, WCLs are good… and have the added benefits to emergency vehicles and facilitating turns for larger vehicles. They allow a slow-moving cyclist to ride in the same position they would in a bike lane, but without having to avoid the trash and glass. And that cyclist will get better clearance and more caution from passing motorists because he/she is in the same visual space which must be shared. Like this. Most importantly, a WCL doesn’t restrict a cyclist’s judgment for how and when to control his/her environment (faster cyclists often need to ride farther left than the line for enhanced visibility and recognition by crossing and turning drivers). In light traffic on 4-lane roads, motorists are encouraged to use another lane, giving the cyclist a very peaceful and buffered existence in the WCL (this is less likely to happen when you add the stripe because the cyclist is removed from consideration by the visual cue of the white line).

  9. pmsummer
    pmsummer says:

    Sounds like they want the perfect facility for this;
    . Does wordpress take html comments?

    Anyway, Keri’s $1.5M per mile is accurate if new road width is required during reconstruction (not counting any additional r.o.w. costs), and if bike lanes are to become a useful grid network, you’ll run out of 14′ wide lanes in a hurry (we don’t have ANY 14′ lanes in my area except on the freeways). While road diets can give you the extra 12′ you need (6′ in both directions), you can’t always justify it.

  10. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Certainly to add only bike lanes to a roadway that doesn’t have them would cost about $1.5 million per mile (especially if it’s curbed), but that is very rarely done. For many years in the ’80s and ’90s in Florida the standard cross section for a 4-lane roadway was a 12-foot inside lane and a 14-foot curb lane (the extra two feet for bikes). We have quite a few miles like that.
    So widening a two-lane without bike lane to four-lane with bike lane today (and if the designer insists on having 12-foot general use lanes, which are really unnecessary for urban and suburban streets) will only require four additional feet of pavement. No way that four feet is going to cost $1.5 million per mile unless right-of-way costs are extreme or you have grade issues. (Of course that can be an issue in hilly places; grade issues are very rare in Florida.)

  11. pmsummer
    pmsummer says:

    Mighk, I’m not following the math above. Widening a two-lane into a four lane with bike lanes? Do you mean widening a 4-lane w/WCLs into a 4-lane with bike lanes? Seems a bloody shame to me.

    Adding just two feet of pavement per side could STILL cost almost $1 million a mile, unless your utilities and storm water facilities are located in an anticipatory position. Concrete’s cheap compared to drainage and utility relocation (at least here).

    A clarification. We don’t have any 14′ non-freeway lanes in Texas except in Dallas, where we have only about 30 lane miles of WCLs along bike routes (the vast majority of Dallas’ 800 lane-mile system is on local streets that aren’t candidates for WCLs). Otherwise, the standard lane width for a multi-lane roadway is 11′.

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