What kind of road do you prefer?

There has been some discussion in comments to various posts about the road configurations our readers prefer. I thought a poll might be fun. Assume the traffic volumes of your normal riding conditions. Voting is anonymous, so be honest. Discussion is fun, please feel free to expand upon your selections in comments. Don’t be intimidated by the vociferous vehicular cyclists. 😉

[poll id=”4″] [poll id=”5″]

26 replies
  1. bikejax
    bikejax says:

    I vote for bike lanes on both. I however think you left off the best option. And that is segregated bike paths on all roads. If we are ever going to get the general car driving populous to even consider get out of a car and on to a bike. We have to provide infrastructure the moms and kids are going to feel safe traveling on.

  2. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Complicating things (as usual), I’d have to ask for more options. On multi-lane it’s going to depend on the speed. I’m quite happy with 10-foot lanes on Robinson downtown, but if cars were averaging 50 mph I’d want more room; either a 15-foot lane or a bike lane/paved shoulder.

    With a 2-lane it’s not just speed, but volume. Low volume street? Why waste the extra pavement? But with higher volumes and narrower lanes motorists start acting cranky when I take the lane, so give me the wide lane. And is this urban or rural?

  3. Keri
    Keri says:

    I know, it’s hard to keep these things simple and general… I figure the kind of roads/traffic conditions a person typically sees will influence the infrastructure preference. For the sake of the poll, consider urban/suburban since rural doesn’t factor into many of our commutes.

    The polls are fun for instant feedback, but somewhat limiting for thorough questions/answers. The comments at least allow for expansion and discussion. I’ll ponder a survey which would allow more latitude for constructing complex choices.

    Bikejax, I’m looking for personal preferences based on experience, rather than promotional preferences for what might entice other people to ride.

    Getting people to abandon motoring for bicycling requires a lot more than conveyance infrastructure. See The Whack-a-mole Principle.

  4. acline
    acline says:

    Multi-lane: I go with bicycle lanes assuming they are appropriate, e.g. end at least 100′ before an intersection with sharrows indicating we all share the lanes. I’m also assuming here a 45+ mph road.

    Single lane: I chose wide lanes, but that assumes suburban or rural travel. In downtown Springfield the lanes are narrow, and I like that very much. Traffic is forced to go slow and be careful. So narrow for urban, wide for rural.

    Best case: People come to their senses, kick the oil addiction, get out of their cars, and turn all roads into safe, multi-use community spaces.

  5. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Extra width gives everyone extra options, everything else being equal. Bike lanes create “mean” encounters with cars when the cyclist rides outside them, even when the cyclist is safer and legal doing so. They also don’t get debris swept by traffic. Rideable shoulders are bike lanes without the bike logo. No comment on sidewalk riding. By a process of elimination, it’s pretty easy to figure out how I voted – and why.

    Worst road in my book is like our “new & improved” Glade in Colleyville, where they created a two lane road (narrow lanes), divided by a lane-width median to reduce passing potential, and with a really WIDE sidewalk on one side of the street. To make it sportier, traffic is let loose in sprint groups by a traffic light coming off a four lane segment, and the bulk of the traffic merges to the right as the road necks down. At least they didn’t paint bicycles on the wide sidewalk to rile up the motorists, who are generally decent about the whole thing…

  6. Keri
    Keri says:

    The difference between a bike lane and a shoulder is usually lost on motorists, however the legal distinction is relevant. A shoulder is not part of the roadway, so the space is not subject to the FTR law. Motorist harassment aside, a cyclist has an unambiguous legal claim to the travel lane on a road with a shoulder vs a wide lane or a bike lane. So, technically, a shoulder gives a cyclist more options.

    However, the most common enforcers are hostile motorists. It is probably easier to make a wide lane appear narrow by riding farther into it than it is to convince a motorist that a shoulder isn’t a bike lane 🙂

  7. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Pretty much, except that Glade has proper LH turn lanes at the intersections & the MUP crosses a lot more driveways. Google maps shows the street under construction so I can’t put in an equivalent link.

  8. Whit
    Whit says:

    As a regular commuter, I experience a wide range of conditions from Winter Park to Orlando. I like the bike lanes on Lakemont and Glenridge because I have my defined space and cars have theirs; the median on Glenridge helps. But I also am quite happy with Winter Park Road, Nebraska (avoiding the speed humps) and Hampton, which have no bike lanes but offer plenty of room to share the road. Perhaps it comes down to speed and volume; Lakemont and Glenridge carry the most cars of those roads. On Corrine and Mills, the on-street parking lane provides a good buffer against the heavy traffic and higher speeds, although I ride close to the traffic lane and occasionally must get in the lane to go around parked cars or when the on-street parking lane drops. All in all, I want to be on the road and not on a side path.

    On a tight 4-lane undivided road, like Mills south of Colonial, as long as the speed is slow a bike lane isn’t that critical; but that’s where I get the yelled comments to get on the sidewalk.

  9. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    The difference between a shoulder and a bike lane is like the difference between two adjacent water fountains and two adjacent water fountains with one labeled “whites only” and the other labeled “colored only.” The added options with a shoulder are more than a technicality. Around here, I’ve never had anybody act hostile if I wasn’t riding on the shoulder.

    Click on the website link for an example. That shoulder comes in handy when hauling up the hill on the 45MPH speed limit street. Not real useful when hauling DOWN the hill. For those not familiar with Orlando or Dallas, our hills are mountains compared to yours, but still laughable compared to REAL hills.

  10. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    I would think that most readers of this site recognize that there are too many unskilled motor vehicle operators on our roads. It only takes one of them to not see the cyclist pedaling on the shoulder or bike lane to ruin everyone’s day. I’m speaking specifically of tailgating drivers who are only looking at the car ahead and not at the reason why that car is moving slightly to the left (not three feet to the left) and is also not keeping the proper position in the lane and has drifted slightly to the right, crossing the line.

    I don’t have that concern anymore.

    Of course, those cell phone drivers who can’t focus on anything other than a point six to fifteen feet ahead are a different issue. (from the book: Traffic, or Why we drive the way we do, and what it says about us)

  11. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Steve a wrote:
    “Extra width gives everyone extra options, everything else being equal. Bike lanes create “mean” encounters with cars when the cyclist rides outside them, even when the cyclist is safer and legal doing so. They also don’t get debris swept by traffic.”

    I don’t doubt that such mean encounters happen (Keri told of one she had), but it’s never happened to me. Do we know if really has any effect on motorist behavior. Might the same motorist in the same situation still give you a hard time if the bike lane wasn’t present? I don’t know, so I wouldn’t make a big issue of it.

    As for debris, yes bike lanes and shoulders tend to collect it better than wide curb lanes, but wide curb lanes are still somewhat prone to the same problem. (I saw this on Ronald Reagan Blvd. in Longwood last week.) I’d rather focus on getting a bottle bill to cut down on broken glass. Many years ago I toured through Michigan, which had a bottle bill. Nearly two weeks without a flat. As I came back into my home state of Ohio I got a flat from broken glass within the first mile.

  12. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Fred mentioned cell phones. I agree it’s a problem, but nowhere near what some think. Tom Vanderbilt in his book Traffic mentions some research on how cell phones affect drivers. Using a simulator and eye-tracking equipment, they found that those talking on cell-phones (hands-free) tended to focus straight ahead, while those not on the phone tended to scan side-to-side much better. This tells me that vehicular cyclists are at relatively low risk, since we’re right where the driver is focused, while sidewalk cyclists and pedestrians attempting to cross are at higher risk, since they are outside the scanning zone.

    Not to say it can’t happen, though! Someone on the Xtracycle list just reported getting rear-ended by a cell-phone using driver as he waited in a left turn lane to make a turn.

  13. Andrewp
    Andrewp says:

    I agree with Mighk’s earlier post about speed and traffic volume being the defining criteria for where I will ride. I’ll use sidewalks, bikepaths, bike lanes, and of course the roadway. I am delighted to have a bike lane to ride down cobblestoned Livingston St. (apparently cars like the bike lane too, as a lot of them get their two wheels over into the lane as they travel down this part of the road). Love Cady Way Trail (bike path) so as not to even deal with traffic. As for 2-lane roads, the wider the better to give cars plenty of room to go around (and they still do not like crossing double-striped lines to go around me — more education needed!)

    I saw a velomobile (?) (recumbant bike with a windshield) travelling east on SR 400 in S. Daytona just last week. SR 400 is a 4-lane (2 each way), 55mph road. Most of the traffic saw him in plenty of time and moved into the left lane to easily go around. Did see one truck not paying attention and run up close before breaking hard. That’s my concern cycling on higher speed roads …..

  14. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    AndrewP, was the vehicle you saw on SR400 a yellow or blue one? If it was blue, it was Friday, probably near 10:30-11:00am and it would be me. With two wheels, it’s “only” a recumbent bike, not a velomobile, and is a Gold Rush Replica. If it was yellow, that would be my velomobile, and it would have been later in the day, as I switched vehicles mid-day. It has recumbent seating, but there is no “bike” inside, as the shell carried the loads.

    I don’t recall any vehicles approaching quickly and braking suddenly and I keep a sharp eye in my mirrors. That means that there was nothing of concern to me, as I rode and I very much like it like that. Had I been riding the shoulder, it is possible that the same inattentive driver could have passed dangerously close.

    On that same high speed road, my earlier travels (years ago) on the shoulder resulted in the lead vehicle perhaps giving me slight clearance, but other tailgating vehicles would come too close for comfort.

    I’ve found that on the 40-55 mph roads, being in the lane is more enjoyable and certainly safer. These are what I consider to be sub-standard, narrow lanes, and I like it!

  15. Andrewp
    Andrewp says:

    Fred: Thought there might have been a chance it was you! It was Friday alright, but around 9:30am. Want to say it was yellow (not blue), but I wouldn’t swear to it. The vehicle looked like a recumbent with a windsheild in front (I did not see a lot of extra bodywork).

    My view of the truck was from behind and in the left lane … I saw traffic merging left (just in front of me), saw the bike, and noticed a (small pickup)truck (still in the right lane) at first accelerating to take advantage of the cars moving left, then braking hard (saw the lights and the nose of the truck dive) as he came up faster than he expected on something he wasn’t expecting …. 😉

    If that was you, you were making good time … 🙂

    Along that stretch of road, being where you were made the most sense, and any driver half-awake and watching the road would have plenty of time to evaluate the situation, glance left and pull over into the left lane (without even slowing down) to bypass you safely, and contine on ……. it was just that one driver who didn’t seem to be paying attention ….

  16. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    If it was 9:30am, that was about right, since I did make pretty good time that morning. It would have been the GRR, 2 wheels, blue lycra wrap-around on a Zzipper fairing.

    Even if the truck driver wasn’t paying attention at first, he came awake eventually.

    Now the real question… how much attention were you paying to the road? I think probably the right amount, since you got the color incorrect. You’re the winner on this one! 🙂

  17. Andrewp
    Andrewp says:

    HAHAHA!! 🙂

    I wanted to slow down to take a longer look, but traffic conditions dictated otherwise.

    Fred, you are a perfect example of the problem we have cycling on the road. I can tell you I would be very intimidated cycling on SR400 like you do. Intimidated to the point that I’m not sure I could do it for any distance. I know this is the same fear that new cyclists face when deciding to venture onto any road for the first time.

    But seeing you in action gives me confidence that it can be done (safely).

  18. Keri
    Keri says:

    My primary consideration on the road is my ability to control my space as much as possible. Based on the characteristics of the road that may mean riding in the right tire track or riding in the left tire track. Riding alongside of traffic does not allow me to control my space. I don’t like having to worry about unpredictable movements and I don’t like having to avoid close calls. Using the same visibility techniques as a motorcycle driver, I have all but eliminated the close calls I experienced regularly when I rode in the expected stay-right position.

    By far the majority of close calls I’ve experienced have happened while riding in a bike lane. I’ve also had to avoid plenty of right-hook attempts in wide lanes. I’ve been hit by a car once, I was in a bike lane. It was a fairly typical bike-lane-induced crash. Knowing what I do now, that would not happen again. I still ride in bike lanes sometimes, but I know when to leave them and I know what kind of conflicts to expect. However, the process of leaving the bike lane and having to merge creates a lot more work than just maintaining a predictable line in a narrow lane.

    I find that far more stressful than claiming a narrow lane (in an urban environment*). The threat of being rear-ended on an urban street is pretty slim, so the only element of stress a cyclist faces is the social behavior of motorists. My experience (against my expectation) was that commanding my space in a narrow lane did NOT bring an increase in harassment, except on roads where there appeared to be a space to the right (like the empty parking on Corrine, any bike-lane-like area, even the gore-striped pavement on S. Ivanhoe inspires harassment) where motorists think I should be riding.

    Although harassment in general is pretty rare, this is a discernible pattern. Also, there is a difference between leaving a bike lane for a few seconds to avoid a hazard and returning to it vs riding in the lane next to something that looks like a bike lane. Baldwin Park is a good example, too. I’ve been harassed several times there for not riding in the hazard zones with bicycle symbols painted in them. Because of that, I changed my route to avoid Baldwin Park.

    OTOH, I am sensitive to having traffic get stuck behind me (however, I have a clear perspective of what constitutes being stuck vs having to wait a second). I do prefer being able to get out of the way of heavy traffic. Because of where I live/work, I usually chose a slightly longer route on residential roads. I’d rather do that than ride beside the flow of traffic. It’s more pleasant and I get to interact with people walking dogs and such. Lacking that option, a wide lane is my preference in some places, a shoulder in others.

    *I don’t have stress issues with (≥5ft) bike lanes (or shoulders) on a road with long stretches between intersections… as long as they’re clean.

    On safety grounds, I oppose bike lanes in a complex environment where they put a cyclist in a disadvantageous position. When I post the video clips of Downtown Orange Ave, I’ll show you what I mean. Cyclists are far better off learning the skills of safe cycling than being led into a false sense of security in on urban roadways.

    On social/cultural grounds I think we need to focus on solving the problems that make the roadway feel unsafe or hostile and we should not let bike facilities distract us from that. I want to see cyclists feel safe and confident — and be welcome and respected — on every road.

  19. Keri
    Keri says:

    Andrew said: But seeing you in action gives me confidence that it can be done (safely).

    Fred is a great example of what a cyclist can do that many people fear we can’t. Most of the roads he uses are high speed arterials like that. In addition Volusia county is far less… um… aware of bicycles on the road. There’s no safety in numbers at play. He gets little support from law enforcement (to put it mildly). And yet that’s his transportation. So when Fred seems emphatic about how well vehicular cycling works he has the experience to back it up—proven experience that most cyclists are afraid to even try on a Sunday morning.

  20. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    “emphatic”? Psychotic might be a more accurate description and there’s probably a few more adjectives that I can’t remember that apply better.

    There’s an “experienced” cyclist in this area, who also rides the same type of two-wheeled, faired, wrapped recumbent. He’s told me I’m crazy to be out on the roads I drive, hence the quotes. I had another recent conversation with him, in which he described moving out more into the lane each time a vehicle got too close, until he was in the middle of the lane. He still didn’t get it.

    Almost all of my miles are on narrow multi-lane roadways and the ones I try to avoid are those with striped shoulders, but I still ride where I need to, of course.

    Keri, thank you for your kind words. You mentioned lack of numbers and that thought is always on my mind. I’d love to be a bike-bus promoter just to bring the numbers higher than one! I’m getting better with my interactions with law enforcement too. The last two were just about perfect, no emotional outbursts from either one. I didn’t break down in tears either.

    I hope to be taking the LCI course (or whatever it’s called now) in Feb, and start to promote some classes for the less-timid and the more-timid in my area. I am not much of an organizer, but I’d be very supportive of a Critical Manners ride as well.

    Volusia County has too many riders in “clubs” who don’t give our activity a good name, sadly.

  21. eddie
    eddie says:

    riding with children makes me much less assertive, so I would imagine it would be harder to maintain lane control.
    it’s like night and day. without the kid I feel very comfortable in traffic, especially in very urban areas.

    bike lanes afford some piece of mind, until they feed you right into a traffic conflict. but I am a tinkerer and i think we might be able to coalate traffic data and come up with some best practices for given circumstances.
    I love the totally separate bike path. no noise, no smell.
    again, with the kid, I’m not going mountain biking, but I have used my bike to get me to great places that no car can or should go.
    I once had a “commute” down a 6 mile wagon trail in McCarthy,AK.
    I would love to have off road bike paths that parelelled the train tracks with camp sites every 50 miles.

  22. Brian in So Cal
    Brian in So Cal says:

    I don’t have a lot of close calls, but when I’ve had, most of them have happened when I haven’t been assertive enough. So when I’ve taken my son in the trailer, or nowadays on the back of the tandem, I’ve been at least as assertive when riding alone. Also, a lot of lanes that are sharable when riding solo aren’t sharable when pulling the trailer, so in those cases I’m more assertive pulling the trailer compared to riding solo.

    That said, we avoid high traffic roads with narrow lanes not due to safety reasons, but primarily because they’re noisy and less fun. A lot of the grade separated paths that I will avoid when riding fast solo, we’ll use when we’re riding slower on the tandem.

  23. Adrian
    Adrian says:

    Just remember one feature of bicycle lanes that many of those asking for them never realise — all the glass and rocks and crap on he roads is swept off the roads by traffic. If you paint magic white voodoo protection lines on the road and keep the rest of the traffic out, all the crap gets moved into the bike lane. Then the people riding bikes move out to ride where its safer and all the people in cars start screaming abuse at them.

  24. momcat
    momcat says:

    Well, I voted for bike lane, even though I’m also mostly comfortable riding in a narrow or wide outside lane. Partly this is because I often ride with my family and there are varying opinions/comfort levels within my family about taking the lane. Also, in my neighborhood I see almost no-one else riding vehicularly — for example, 17-92 from Park St. to the Seminole County border — there’s no real alternative route, the road is pretty crowded with cars especially during rush hours — it just sucks to ride there. A bike lane there would make a huge difference. The truth is, I don’t believe in the Orlando area there is a one-size-fits-all solution. And even more than addn’l bike lanes, what I would like to see is more bicyclists. I guess I really believe in safety through numbers.

  25. Keri
    Keri says:


    Point taken about the lack of alternatives to some heavy-traffic roads. Having extra space is helpful on a road that can be as dense as that stretch of 17-92.

    I’m not sure bike lanes do much to attract riders on roads like that. They probably facilitate existing cyclists who are more inclined to ride on the road already.

    Bike-v-car crash analysis, as well as the lifetime experience of vehicular cyclists, shows pretty clearly that safety is far more dependent on cyclist behavior, skill and knowledge of traffic dynamics than on motorist adaptation to seeing more cyclists.

    I think one could make a case for increased comfort of cyclists in seeing more numbers. Perhaps if more cyclists rode vehicularly, more cyclists would feel comfortable in doing so… that would definitely improve their safety.

    There are so few vehicular cyclists in this city that it is a rare and beautiful thing to see one. But I will say I’ve seen more people riding farther into the lane in the last 6-8 months, so maybe it’s catching on.

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