New Lane Feature: Broken Glass!

So the City has painted a gutter lane on a perfectly good street thus, in my opinion, turning it into a no-so-good street. Why not-so-good? As the video shows — and every bicycle lane advocate knows — cars tend to sweep the streets. So gutter lanes fill up with all kinds of debris. The narrower the entire travel lane and the closer the left edge of the bicycle lane is to the gutter, the more crap bicyclists are forced to ride through.

Perhaps you think the bicycle lanes will be cleaned or cleared. Have camera, will check, will keep you posted on how that’s working.

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Comments 28

  1. Tom Armstrong wrote:

    “Good luck with that!”

    There is a four-lane arterial about a mile from my house that, as part of the process of widening it and installing a new interchange with our limited-access beltway (and thus removing one of the very few places one could ride from inside the Watterson to outside the Watterson without having to intercourse with the Watterson), got a pair of shiny new bike lanes. These are of the usual execrable variety on such a road: two feet of the official width is concrete gutter pan, three feet of it is asphalt, with a linear joint between them that will surely degrade in quality over the coming few years. The several neighborhood streets are ripe for the picking at creating left cross/right hook conflicts, and that doesn’t address the traffic-light-controlled intersections (of which the new Interstate SPUI is one).

    Motorist harassment of cyclists not “being good little second class road users” is quite high, to the point of ADDING glass and other obstacles for us to dodge (something about that being the garbage,er,bike-rider lane, equating bicycle users with garbage).

    I’m often tempted to go out with black paint to cover the stencils, and find a cutting torch to remove the bike lane signs. I don’t have BMUFL signs to replace the bike lane signs, though.

    Posted 18 Aug 2012 at 5:51 pm
  2. Michael wrote:

    Now that’s a crappy bike lane. It’s a crappy bike lane in a city, that from what I’ve seen on here and, seems to have some pretty good bicycle infrastructure. Which leaves me puzzled as to what kind of codes and standards the city uses to decide what constitutes a bike lane and where they should go.

    Posted 18 Aug 2012 at 11:16 pm
  3. Khal Spencer wrote:

    In tough times, maintenance is the first to go. You want bike lanes, you get crap in them.

    Posted 18 Aug 2012 at 11:22 pm
  4. Gary Grey wrote:

    Thanks for the news and showing the video. I hope something good will come out of this for us bicyclists.

    Posted 19 Aug 2012 at 5:20 am
  5. Steve A wrote:

    Corollary to Khal’s comment: “we gave them those blanking bike lanes so they better blanking use them. While we’re at it, we ought to charge them for them and they ought to be getting licenses as well!” Add a couple of extra “blankings” if you feel the need for more dramatic effect.

    Posted 19 Aug 2012 at 7:05 am
  6. Tom Armstrong wrote:

    @ Steve A: Yep. Not using sidepaths opens us to more motorist harassment. It’s been observed repeatedly.

    And, yeah, like many bicycle riders, I already HAVE my driver’s license. I keep wondering whether to go earn a driving instructor rating, to give me more credibility when I tell anti-cyclists how to act around us.

    Posted 19 Aug 2012 at 8:32 am
  7. Andy Cline wrote:

    I swear, two years ago I would have told you that this new lane on Grant was not possible in Springfield. We had a plan to route number and sharrow our entire bicycle route system. That plan now appears to be dead. I believe much of this is a result of the survey about two years about by The Network, a group of young professionals connected to the Chamber of Commerce. The survey listed this as top priority to keep and attract young pros: bicycle friendliness. And that has been translated to mean lanes.

    Posted 19 Aug 2012 at 8:35 am
  8. Steve A wrote:

    Tom – “blanking right!”

    Andy – sometimes you lose ground to the “separate but equal” crowd. Sometimes you gain. Odd that our posts often converge from consistent but different directions! One day you will modify the “liberal” by dumping the “al” and adding the “tarian” πŸ˜‰

    Posted 19 Aug 2012 at 1:09 pm
  9. Andy Cline wrote:

    Steve… Maybe I’ll be an “altarian” πŸ™‚

    Posted 19 Aug 2012 at 2:05 pm
  10. Khal Spencer wrote:

    I’m getting to be a contrarian….

    Posted 19 Aug 2012 at 2:15 pm
  11. Michael wrote:

    Andy, you seem to have a very noisy bicycle.

    Posted 19 Aug 2012 at 2:36 pm
  12. Andy Cline wrote:

    Michael… Well, the mic is very sensitive πŸ™‚ The Kona is my quietest bicycle next to my Bompton. My Redline is way too noisy.

    Posted 19 Aug 2012 at 3:59 pm
  13. rober wrote:

    Funny. The very reason that there is glass in the bike lane is because (generally) people do not drive in the bike lane.

    The very reason why many people consider them safer.

    I’m imagining a conversation between two anti-bike lane advocates.

    Anti-bike lane advocate #1: Man, paint doesn’t protect anyone man….it’s just paint, dude.

    Anti-bike lane advocate #2: Yeah, they don’t keep cars out man….why is this lane full of glass, dude.

    Sorry-they were hippies in my mind. I had to portray them as such! : )

    Posted 21 Aug 2012 at 2:00 pm
  14. Andy Cline wrote:

    Rober… Considering something safe and its actually being safe are, obviously, two different things.

    Posted 21 Aug 2012 at 2:50 pm
  15. robert wrote:

    One of the main reasons that “anti-bike lane” types give for dismissing the effectiveness of bike lanes is that paint doesn’t keep drivers from driving on that particular piece of pavement.

    Broken glass and debris is proof that the majority of drivers stop driving on that section of pavement after lines are painted.


    Posted 22 Aug 2012 at 3:42 pm
  16. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… I cannot believe you brought that up given that I know you know that riding FTR presents other dangers involving cars πŸ™‚ Yes, obviously, most of the time motorists do not drive in the gutter area. And as you well know, the problem is that motorists think they can squeeze by a bicyclist riding FTR. So the motorist never has to drive in the gutter area to sideswipe the bicyclist.

    And, again as you know, there are other dangers not involving cars when bicyclists ride FTR.

    Would you argue that, to be safe, bicyclists ought to ride in the glass, gravel, and litter FTR on a street like Grant? Is this where you ride? And if it’s not where you ride, would you advice novices to ride there?

    Posted 22 Aug 2012 at 5:58 pm
  17. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Most drivers do not drive in the bike lane, but most drivers don’t crash into bicyclists, so I don’t see any compelling reason to give safety value to broken glass. The overtaking and sideswiping crashes I know of in New Mexico were either caused by inattention, sloppy passing, or loss of vehicle control. These are rare, and are not predicted by a broken glass density calculation.

    Plus, not all bike lanes are created equal. John Allen has said it well–bike lanes that encourage good roadway positioning, such as in areas lacking turning and crossing conflicts, work well. Bike lanes that encourage cyclists to ride counter to good roadway positioning increase risk.

    I think there are some studies out there that claim to have looked at crashes per mile in bike laned streets vs. those without bike lanes, but I have not read them lately. I would caution any reader to examine whether one is comparing substantially equivalent streets with and without bike lanes, i.e., that the traffic loads and specific kinds of hazards per road mile in a comparison are substantially equivalent. That has been one of the criticisms of the Lusk et al Montreal study of cycletracks.

    Meanwhile, badly designed bike lanes can increase hazards. For example, bike lanes that create coffin corner intersections. Case in point, the new bike lanes on our Diamond Drive between Sandia Street and West Road. In an area that rarely had a crash, we have had three crashes and at least a dozen documented near misses since spring. The crashes, predictable results of putting bicyclists to the right of popular right turn locations, speak for themselves. Cyclists did not get hit when they were controlling the right lane. Now that they are controlling the bike lane, they are “safe until impact”, as John Schubert might say.

    Posted 23 Aug 2012 at 4:11 pm
  18. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal… The glass isn’t the point. It’s merely a rhetorical device I’m using to get people to question the lane. The point is that the lanes on Grant are gutter lanes and put bicyclists into a situation that they might not otherwise choose (unless they don’t know any better). I do not choose to ride so FTR that I’m riding in debris. But the new lanes on Grant forces bicyclists to ride in debris. Robert appears to be making the argument that it’s OK because motorists don’t drive that far to the right as evidenced by the fact that the debris exists in the gutter.

    Posted 23 Aug 2012 at 6:32 pm
  19. Khal Spencer wrote:

    The glass appears to have become a false metaphor for safety.

    Posted 23 Aug 2012 at 10:34 pm
  20. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal… Yes. I’m using it, however, as a way to call attention to the general suckiness of riding FTR in a gutter lane. So we have dueling rhetorical devices πŸ˜‰

    Posted 24 Aug 2012 at 6:26 am
  21. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Ain’t rhetoric fun?

    Agree with you on the suckiness of gutter lanes, too.

    Posted 24 Aug 2012 at 2:34 pm
  22. Keri wrote:

    Another twist on why I’d prefer to share the same pavement as cars…

    I’ve been in Montana since the end of July. Here all the streets are paved with chipseal. The bike space is never pressed by the car tires, so it remains rough and loose. The bicyclists get to ride on pavement that rattles their bones and robs their effort while they gaze longingly at those smooth tire tracks they’re not allowed to ride on.

    And yet they demand it.

    I’ve been riding a motorcycle the last few days. I sure do like being a first class citizen on two wheels.

    We need better advocates.

    Posted 24 Aug 2012 at 10:22 pm
  23. Khal Spencer wrote:

    The main loop road around Los Alamos, NM State Rt. 4, was chipsealed this year. You can’t ride near the edge because not only is it rough, but its not obvious where the actual road ends and the loose gravel begins. Its a stern lesson in not riding too FTR.

    What motorcycle, Keri? Keep that thing upright on the chipseal! Also, if you have not talked to some Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider-coaches (i.e., instructors), I strongly suggest it. I just took the MSF Advanced Rider course, given that this old war horse is now on MCs again. Its amazing how similar the course is to what I’ve taught as an LCI (well, not really…considering all two wheelers share similarities) but the level of dedication I saw from the students in the class far outshined what I have seen in the bicycling community. MC riders know they need to be good. A lot of cyclists want to be protected from having to be good.

    Posted 25 Aug 2012 at 8:43 am
  24. Keri wrote:


    I’m on a borrowed Suziki Intruder 800. I owned a Kawasaki Vulcan 800 for about 8 years. I sold it 4 years ago.

    I took the MSF class in 2000. We teach a lot of the same things in CyclingSavvy (lane/intersection position & managing sight lines).

    40 years ago, the motorcycle industry decided to address crash statistics and fear of motorcycling with education. Imagine that. MC riders today seek education and excellence because everything in the culture encourages them to do so: insurance, licensing process, dealers & manufacturers. It started with the manufacturers who put aside their competitive differences and formed the MSF for the benefit of their customers. (I started to do a little research into this last fall when I was in SoCal. I have some connections in the motorcycle industry from work I did 20 years ago.)

    Bicycling not only needs better avocates, it needs a better industry association. But aside from the industry, I want to be represented by a member organization that cares about my safety AND protects my right to the road as an equal user. We have no such organization.

    Well, it’s warmed up a little and Lolo Pass is calling me…

    Posted 25 Aug 2012 at 1:22 pm
  25. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Lolo Pass looks nice. The Valles Caldera likewise beckons both on the bicycle and the motorcycle.

    I was not even aware of the MSF, since I sold my last bike (Honda CX-500) in 1987 and just bought another bike last fall. Turns out the guy whose BMW I bought from an Albuquerque shop (the red one in the link above) is one of the most senior MSF instructors in these parts, Francis Allen. He gave me his MSF card as well as some spare parts. I started reading everything I could find on their very good online library.

    The big BMW shop in Albuquerque sponsors a class and the Harley shop in Santa Fe does as well. Santa Fe being closer, I took the class at the H-D store but half the riders were riding other iron. You are right–the entire culture encourages education. In NM and probably elsewhere, the Basic MSF class (3 days) substitutes for a MC endorsement on ,the driver license which is exactly what the state wants–highly qualified new riders rather than someone who only knows how to ride circles and figure 8’s. Likewise, most of the insurance companies down here give us a break with the completion card.

    After a day of throwing around the 600 lb K1100 under coaches Murrae Haynes and Bob Doyle, felt like I actually knew what I was doing just a little bit. 42 years of riding both moto and human powered have already taught me a lot of the underlying thinking, but putting stuff into practice in a class setting helps immensely. Also seriously overhauled how I want to teach a bike class.

    Agree with you that the bicycle biz and most bicycling advocates are not thinking along the right lines.

    Posted 25 Aug 2012 at 4:09 pm
  26. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Hey, Andy, what is the width of that bike lane? It looks from the video that it is too narrow for the bike lane stencil. If it doesn’t meet specifications, it should be removed. It looks hazardous to me.

    Posted 27 Aug 2012 at 11:27 pm
  27. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal… I did not measure it — largely because I couldn’t find my tape that day πŸ™‚ I’ll get around to it soon.

    Posted 30 Aug 2012 at 3:45 pm
  28. Angelo wrote:


    Did you notice many lanes around Wilmington that were barely wide enough for the stencil?

    I’m under the impression that DE considers the concrete gutter pan part of the bike lane (ie. the 3-4′ required for the bike lane do not need to be flat). Some of these lanes are being made a little wider with repaving, but the bike lanes are still reduced to 0 (paint grades to curb) at many/most right turn lanes.

    My understanding (local observation) is that federal standards are mandatory for motor vehicle facilities, but subject to judgement (i.e. easily waived) for bicycle facilities.

    Posted 02 Sep 2012 at 11:28 am