Bicycle Lanes: Gotta Love Close Passes

What started as documenting another new bicycle lane turned into a textbook example of motorist behavior. Take a look…

How did you like the squeeze play toward the end — entirely caused by the bicycle lane. If I had been controlling the lane, the motorist behind me would have waited until it was safe to pass.

Is that the kind of experience we want for novices? How many time does that need to occur before the novice decides that bicycling is too dangerous?

People, listen: What accounts for high participation in Europe is culture — one component of which are laws that make motoring a bit more difficult and expensive compared to the U.S. Infrastructure has little to do with it (need a reminder?). The best mode share the U.S. has been able to achieve with lane painting is a measly 6 or 7 percent in Portland, Oregon (again, I would argue, culture is playing a role).

All these lanes will get us is movement from a bronze level bicycle-friently community award to a silver award, maybe.

Ooooops. Did I just give it away?

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Comments 15

  1. Khal Spencer wrote:

    I’ve been on a review committee for the BFC award (Santa Fe) and try to enforce engineering guidelines when evaluating things like “miles of bike lanes”. Find out who is on the local bicyclist review committee and have them raise hell. The Springfield government folks will proudly boast of the miles of bike lanes. Make sure someone sends the videos and pictures you took directly to LAB as well as posting them here on your site. LAB Reform refers to stuff like this as “Bicycle Fiendish Communities”.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 5:44 pm
  2. Keith wrote:

    I used to love the idea of bike lanes until I started riding. They looks good on paper, but aren’t very practical. As s
    Springfield gets more bike lanes, I have gone in search of ways to get around without them!

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 5:46 pm
  3. Andy Cline wrote:

    The STAR Team is responsible for compiling the LAB application along with the city and our metropolitan planning organization. I’ll be mentioning it at the next meeting.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 5:48 pm
  4. Keith wrote:

    One more thing, it doesn’t help that all the bike shops have petitions to sign. Why is the only thing the city gods see are bike lanes. There should be more sharrows in town…

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 5:50 pm
  5. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Keith, what I would like to know is whether the bike shops are utterly uncritical. Bikes Belong, an Astroturf organization for the bike biz, can be called into question as being in the “more butts on bikes” movement because it means more sales receipts. But when you end up with these travesties, you get proof that what really matters is knowledgeable bicyclists and traffic engineers working together, not novices and political “movements”.

    Sheesh. Andy, I stole your picture for my own web site. One picture is worth a thousand curses.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 6:28 pm
  6. Steve A wrote:

    I can SEE your stuff – on Khal’s site. On your own. – big giant white spot…

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 6:32 pm
  7. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Is bike lane use mandatory in Springfield or in Missouri as a whole? It is here in Maryland, so I just avoid the streets with the bike lanes.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 6:38 pm
  8. Nate wrote:

    If things continue, Ian, it’s only a matter of time before it will be.

    This is a route I used often that I will be avoiding now. It’s infuriating.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 7:01 pm
  9. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    If it’s not mandatory, you should probably consider simply riding outside the bike lane – treat it as the road edge marking.

    I’m lucky, in that I live in Silver Spring. All the bicycle advocates in my area seem to gravitate to Rockville and Bethesda, so that’s where all the bike lanes get striped. Here in Silver Spring we have only a few bike lanes, and they’re on roads I wouldn’t ordinarily use, and many of them are so faded that, if I was cited for not using one, I could make a convincing argument that I couldn’t have known it was a bike lane.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 7:20 pm
  10. Andy Cline wrote:

    Ian… No mandatory use in MO. But it’s only a matter of time if they keep painting lines.

    Steve… I just have no idea why you can’t see the content. But, I will now take the step of asking someone 🙂

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 7:22 pm
  11. Andy Cline wrote:

    Ian… Thankfully we don’t have that many bicycle lanes in SGF, so they are easy to avoid. In the current paint-spilling frenzy, they are mostly appearing outside the urban core. I do most of my traveling in the urban core. But, for me, these lines are like my Asian carp — an invasive species that I must keep away from the good streets.

    Posted 10 Sep 2012 at 7:27 pm
  12. MZielinski wrote:

    Please educate me, as a motorist doesn’t the bicycle lane allow me to continue to travel at a steady speed as I pass a bicyclist and if I am driving the opposite direction, doesn’t the bicycle lane keep cars coming towards me in their lane and not coming over into my lane? This seems safer. Also, the truck pulling out further than the curb, looks to have caused the bicyclist to move more to the left and closer to traffic. As the bicyclist I think you have the option to proceed traveling in the bicycle lane or yield to the truck and make sure it is safe for you to continue. I don’t see how this situation is the fault of the bicycle lane. I think the same situation could occur if this was two lanes of vehicle traffic – traveling next to the curb in a car, I could choose to yield to the truck or swerve to the left and be closer to the next lane of traffic.

    Posted 15 Sep 2012 at 3:04 pm
  13. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    A big part of the problem is that motorists feel as if a bicycle lane should allow them to continue to travel at a steady speed as they pass a bicyclist. This is inherently unsafe, given the close proximity of the bike lane to the general traffic lane. My Driver’s Handbook for Maryland urges drivers to slow down for cyclists, whether or not they are in a bike lane. But Maryland drivers don’t do this. This is just one of many reasons why I avoid streets with bike lanes.

    Motorists should always change lanes to pass cyclists, due to the fact that almost all lanes are not wide enough for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side in the same lane. If the next lane over is not clear, vehicle operators have a responsibility to wait until the lane is clear before passing a cyclist. A big part of the problem with bike lanes is that they encourage close passes by shunting cyclists into a lane that is not wide enough, and making motorists think they no longer need to give adequate clearance. This is by no means safer.

    Cyclists are always better off if they can control the lane, preventing unsafe passes when the situation demands it. Bike lanes deny cyclists the opportunity to do this, and make cycling that much less safe. In order for cyclists to be safe on the road, they must have the ability to control the lane, just as a motorist has.

    A truck pulling out further than the curb will indeed cause a bicyclist in a bike lane to have a choice – move more to the left and closer to traffic or wait in the bike lane. Both of these bring an element of risk that would be avoided if the cyclist was in the general traffic lane and in a proper lane position from which he could control the lane.

    As for yielding, there is only the responsibility to yield. This responsibility is determined by the law, not by choice. In a situation where a lane is blocked, the choice is not whether to yield or not to yield – the choice is whether to change lanes or to stay in the lane.

    At intersections, cyclists are far less safe in a bike lane than they are in the general traffic lane, because many motorists simply don’t consider the bike lane as a traffic lane. There are many reasons for this – bike lanes are often empty, they are narrow, they are more difficult to scan in the rear view mirrors. Studies show that cyclists using the bike lane are in greater danger from turning traffic at intersections than are cyclists who use the general traffic lane.

    Posted 15 Sep 2012 at 3:52 pm
  14. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Also, motorists who are frustrated by the actions of cyclists may want to visit this page, where I try to explain some of the most commonly criticized cyclist behaviors:

    Posted 15 Sep 2012 at 4:32 pm
  15. Andy Cline wrote:

    The Missouri Driver’s Guide says quite clearly that motorists should pass bicycles in exactly the same way they should pass any other vehicle — wait until it’s safe and change lanes. This is exactly the behavior seen in the video on the section of Bennett with no bicycle lane. This is the behavior I see most driving my bicycle in Springfield — every day.

    Posted 16 Sep 2012 at 11:08 am