Of Goals and Point of View

Long-time Carbon Trace reader Robert (also a professional bicycle advocate and educator) asked this question in the comments to my post on the recent deadly right-hook crash in Boston: Do you think that bicycle facilities can be designed in such a way as to eliminate the dangers and delays? My short answer: No.

He was asking, if I understand him correctly, because many of the vocal readers of this blog are traffic bicyclists who do not think bicycle lanes and tracks are safe (among other reasons to oppose them). I understand him to be seeking solutions. I’m glad he asked the question for a number of reasons, one of which is certainly that many of my readers are smart people who like to contribute their thoughts in the comments. Some of the best stuff published on this blog has been cogent comments by readers. But I’m also glad he asked because it gives me the opportunity to essay about something that I have mentioned but never spent much time explicating: How my point of view about bicycling and bicycle infrastructure is determined by my goals.

I have often stated it negatively: I am not a participation advocate, i.e. a person who wants more people to ride bicycles. What I am is a traffic bicycling advocate. I am primarily interested in my own rights/privileges to drive the streets on my bicycle. I’m not a completely selfish asshole. To understand where I’m coming from it’s important to understand my goal: make life on the street better for me.

I’ve never written a mission statement for Carbon Trace, but if I were to do so I think this would be a part of it: The mission of Carbon Trace is to help those who wish to be traffic bicyclists learn how to drive their bicycles safely in traffic as traffic. I am always ready to help anyone who wants to learn. I became a CyclingSavvy instructor as part of my willingness. I spend a lot of time advocating for bicycling, following the bicycling scene, and writing about it here as part of my willingness. You can test this. Do you want to learn to drive your bicycle (and gain all the great benefits that come from it)? Call me (just visit the MSU website and search for me). Send me e-mail or a message on Facebook. Leave a comment on this or any other post. Shout from your rooftop. I’ll help you. I’ll ride with you. If you want it, I want it for you.

But if you’re the kind of person who just won’t ride a bicycle without special facilities, then have fun with the hassles, dangers, and expense of driving your car. I’m not interested in ruining the streets to make it easier for you.

And, yes, I mean ruin. Because another reason I’m not interested in helping you is that I am not interested in putting you in danger. I cannot participate (by advocacy or any other means) in putting you in danger while fooling you into thinking you are safe.

Bicycle lanes/tracks are dangerous — more dangerous than traffic — because they are pasted on to a system already designed to safely (and with minimum delay) move you from point A to point B. When a separate system is added, then conflicts with the old system necessarily follow. I have yet to see any examples of bicycle infrastructure (qualification: lanes and tracks) anywhere in the world that don’t create some conflicts with the system of traffic or conflicts among bicyclists (e.g. Amsterdam, where far too many people are crammed into far too little space).

While it’s cognitively easy to divide the world into dichotomies, by doing so I do not mean to suggest an unrealistic simplicity. But, generally speaking, it seems to me that bicycle advocates whose goal is primarily to increase participation are far more likely to promote bicycle lanes/tracks than advocates whose primary goal is safe movement within the well-establish system of traffic. I respectfully suggest that participation advocates ask themselves tougher questions about what it is they want and what they are willing to do to achieve it. Are you really willing to send that novice bicyclist into a door-zone lane or gutter lane for a few more percentage points of participation?

Painting lanes may lead to greater participation, but I don’t care. The cost is too high for me.

Convincing people they need bicycle education seems quixotic, but I’ll keep trying. The potential rewards are too great.

I’m perfectly happy to see more people use bicycles for basic transportation. And I am here to help. We’d all be a lot better off if our mode share were higher in the streets we already have.

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Comments 37

  1. Kevin Love wrote:

    AHA! That posted.

    Andy, any idea why your blog software took exception to that link?

    Posted 09 Dec 2012 at 10:35 pm
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Kevin … I’m sorry you’re having trouble with posting comments. I’m not sure why as you’re not posting more than the allowed number of links. I have WordPress set to moderate any comment with 5 or more links to cut down on spam. Please keep me informed if you continue to have problems. You may send me e-mail if you wish.

    Posted 09 Dec 2012 at 11:19 pm
  3. Khal Spencer wrote:

    If you think the cost of a mile of freeway is bad, try the cost of the F35 Fighter. Its hard to top that for boondoggles, but politics is not always logical.


    Of course a full expressway for heavy traffic is far more expensive than a bicycle freeway. The problem is, most Canadians and Americans see themselves using the motorized varieties. Its only now when we are broke, and when there is little cheap land to buy and too many other things to fix, that the price tag gets caught in the throat. I think these cost drivers will cause these facilities to be cancelled, but that’s no guarantee that the public will want to build a bicycle superhighway, unless our mode share rises by an order of magnitude. That may or may not happen. I doubt anyone’s crystal ball is all that good.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 7:46 am
  4. Mighk Wilson wrote:

    What makes bicycles useful for transportation is connectivity. The more connected a corridor or a facility, the more useful it is for trips to destinations along that corridor. But if you limit access to the facility (which is how freeways are planned and designed) you sacrifice local access for long-distance mobility. Just as freeways in the regular road system are for longer-distance trips, “bicycle freeways” would also be for longer-distance trips. But the majority of people aren’t interested in taking long bicycle trips (at least not for their daily transport needs).

    European cities have high bike use because their trip distances are shorter (less sprawl). They mostly use “bicycle freeways” for trips between (closely-spaced) cities.

    As for Robert Hurst’s claim that almost any city could build them, yes, but do’t forget the “almost.” You need a riverfront, a creek bed, or a lakefront that already provides grade separation.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 8:06 am
  5. Robert J wrote:


    Serious question.

    You broke the debate into two parts. Those who think we need education first and those who think we need seperate facilities first.

    Are you and Keri teaching enough people cycling savvy to a least keep up with population growth?

    To be honest, I don’t know what the United States population growth is but lets assume 300,000 per year. If not, there are actually LESS people educated on bicycling every year despite you, Kerri and every LCI in the United States best efforts.

    It doesn’t matter how awesome the PPT presentation, videos and even animations are…it’s damn hard to get people to take any class

    So I’d divide the argument into three groups:

    1. Those that say education is the answer but have yet to educate a meaningful amount of people.

    2. Those that say education is important but think its *very* unlikely to work.

    3. Those who think that bicyclists have no responsibility to be educated.

    We simply can’t continue claiming education to be an answer to our problem unless we begin educating people.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 8:53 am
  6. Robert J wrote:


    Here is the criticism that you requested.

    While I think that your beliefs are sincere, the arguments that you use are not.

    Once while having a discussion about the Benton Street bike lanes you called them “door zone” bike lanes. I asked you how wide they were and you said (I’m paraphrasing) that it didnt matter. Any bike lane beside a parked car was a “door zone”

    I ride in bike lanes that travel along parked cars all the time and once I even had a door open. It wasnt a problem because I was far enough away just like I would have been if the bike lane didn’t exist.

    So I have this sense that when you begin to talk about bike lanes in Springfield you would be better off if you were more honest and discussed specific things that you dislike about certain bike lanes.

    For example:
    -lanes that use a unlaced gutter pan for part of their width
    -lanes that are too narrow to avoid an opening door
    -lanes with endanger the user when it comes to the “right hooks.”

    Right now you would scream just as loudly about every bike lane and since most people have decided that bike lanes are Springfields future you’re not being listened to at all. That’s a shame because you could really add goths conversation by pointing outtye truely dangerous ones while continuing your push for sharrows, etc.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:03 am
  7. Mighk Wilson wrote:


    Of course you’re right; if we don’t teach many people we’re failing by that measure. And no, we’re not teaching a significant number, yet. But then, virtually all the money in cycling goes to facilities. CyclingSavvy was developed as a completely volunteer enterprise.

    I believe previous education programs failed due to bad marketing. And by marketing I mean:

    * Identifying your customer and understanding his/her needs and desires
    * Developing a course (or courses) that fits those needs and desires
    * Determining an effective pricing and delivery system
    * Developing and implementing an effective advertising campaign to convince people of the value of the course

    Previous education programs have failed on all of those points. We hope that we can get enough of the right people to see the value of our course and gain the capital we need to expand and advertise or course to the level that’s needed.

    We know from student feedback that we are delivering something of high value. Plenty of other high-value products and services have failed due to poor marketing and advertising. We hope to avoid that fate.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:04 am
  8. Robert Hurst wrote:

    “You need a riverfront, a creek bed, or a lakefront that already provides grade separation.”

    Canals, freeways and old rail corridors also work. Almost all cities could build at least one fully-separated ‘bicycle freeway’ which would make a huge difference for cyclists in that city.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:08 am
  9. Robert J wrote:

    John –

    Have you examined Chicago’s new infrastructure? I havent noticed these door zone bike lanes but when I travel into the City I usually only visit the loop and street space is far too valuable there to allow parking.

    On rare occasions I travel other parts and also haven’t noticed any, but I’m sure they exist.

    Anyway – just curious if you’ve visited the City of Chicago since the new Mayor was elected and brought in his new, and very progressive transportation team?

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:11 am
  10. Mighk Wilson wrote:

    It’s reeeeally flat here in Florida, so our grade-separation opportunities are very few and far between. But yes, most any grade-separation opportunity can work.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:12 am
  11. Robert J wrote:

    Mighk –

    Thank you for your answer.

    If you’re interested, the City of Columbia Missouri used a good portion of their 28 million dollar FNMPP grant on education. There were radio, tv and newspaper ads. Every bike shop in town also promoted the classes.

    In total, I think about 350 people took the 9-hour course and hardly anyone signed up for the shorter versions. Even when doing “brown bag lunch” seminars at various companies in Columbia hardly anyone would show up.

    It may have just been a matter of a bad marketing campaign. The company hired to do all of this is a professional marketing firm, however.

    Our evaluations were excellent as well. In fact, graduates reported a 24% reduction in automobile use 6-weeks after taking the class.

    Anyway – having led that effort I’m growing more and more skeptical that it can work well.

    In fact, I I were a billionaire I wouldn’t fund bike education and that pains me to say it because I know how life changing it can be for the people who take it.

    If I had a goal for these conversations it would be to stop using bike Ed for the answer to bring the average Joe into a hardcore VC rider when all of us know that’s practically impossible.

    Seems we need to either be like Andy (don’t care if people ride), accept some facilities or come up with a third idea that hasn’t occured to anyone yet.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:21 am
  12. Mighk Wilson wrote:


    If it’s possible to do it for a few hundred normal people — as we have here in Orlando — then it’s possible to do it for virtually everybody. The problem is figuring out how to sell what nobody seems to want. It’s been done…


    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:29 am
  13. Khal Spencer wrote:

    As Mighk said, the main benefit of bicycling for the general population is short term mobility. For that reason, i think our primary consideration should be that cities and towns examine their roadways and ensure that a reasonable bicyclist (I’ll keep harping on that) can ride the “one mile” solution. Or, for that matter, the “two mile” solution. When I visited Bremen, the city center to the airport on the edge of town was about two miles. Albuquerque is several times that size.

    That action would probably help considerably to getting people on bikes in the U.S. I really doubt we will put into place the other big European drivers:

    Extremely high gas taxes–untenable.

    Extremely high tax penalties on autos–politically untenable.

    Extremely short urban distances–too late, we have to work with the settlement we have and slowly change it.

    Peak oil? I thought that would have driven the price of gas through the roof by now, but as we can see, no one’s crystal ball is very good. Hydrofracking and other new techniques are on the path to making the U.S. a major producer again. Don’t get into a fight with me about climate change because you are preaching to the converted (Ph.D., Geochemistry, 11 years on the graduate faculty of a geoscience school at a Carnegie I). But no one has the political will to put a stop to it. Sooooo…..what do we do? We make bicycling easier for short distances and worry about “freeways” after the mode shifts.

    I think adding segregated bicycling facilities adds political warfare to the equation, to wit, you are robbing Peter the Motorist to pay Paul the Bicyclist. Unless there is a compelling reason to do so (I’ll leave that to the planners in areas that wish to justify it), I think the main consideration should be “pacifying” our existing streets and changing zoning and planning codes so we stop building arterial and cul-de-sac developments that almost beg the use of a car. In existing badly planned developments, as homes are foreclosed or demolished, cut-throughs for bike and ped travel should be installed in order to allow people to avoid the existing arterials, which as anyone here would have to admit, tend to put cyclists off.

    Like Andy, I am tiring of being Johnny Appleseed and trying to convert the world to bicycling and walking. I’ll go as far as Andy might be willing to–to work so that the….drum roll…reasonable bicyclist is not iced out of the equation by dumb, 20th Century planning.

    Jeeze, Andy, 61 posts. Is that a record? We should move this discussion to the upcoming Bike Summit.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:35 am
  14. robert wrote:

    Mighk –

    I hope that you are successful.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:39 am
  15. Khal Spencer wrote:

    “short distance”, not “short term” in my last post…sorry.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:40 am
  16. Mighk Wilson wrote:

    While some minimum amount of money is certainly necessary to effectively market cyclist education, having a huge sum will not necessarily result in success. One need only look at the myriad marketing failures over the years by Fortune 500 companies to see that’s so. Good marketing is about understanding how to communicate effectively, not throwing money around.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:44 am
  17. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Mighk, do you think CS and TS classes can create the “reasonable cyclist” in enough numbers to act as local role models and get others involved?

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:49 am
  18. Mighk Wilson wrote:


    I think it’s as much about which particular individuals you reach within a community as the number. Once one has a high-quality course, getting community leaders of all types to take it is key. Police, elected officials, local media, local celebrities, business leaders…. (time to re-read The Tipping Point).

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 9:53 am
  19. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Up here in BombTown, Neale and I have kind of throw up our hands. Lack of interest by the public and both Neale and I are utterly swamped lately with other stuff. Its hard to have a really good course unless you are teaching regularly.

    I put the Traffic Skills class and a short lunchtime version on the laboratory training curriculum. Actually, in retrospect, maybe that was a dumb idea. Training at LANL is synonymous with time sink. Sadly.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 10:19 am
  20. Andy Cline wrote:

    Re: What Robert Hurst wrote: “They cut right into the heart of the city, separated from the traffic grid, and are wonderful for recreation and transportation. These facilities are so powerful that the addition of just one or two will make a huge difference. There is no actual need to build a ‘network’ or ‘system’ of paths.”

    Yes! And this is one of the reasons I have been a member of Ozarks Greenways for many years and continue to promote the building of greenways in Springfield. I believe I have seen exactly this phenomenon here. But, again, the greenways people will caution that these are parks, not transportation corridors. You can certainly use them as transportation corridors. I have. But one must keep in mind that you’ll encounter all manner of park users.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 10:29 am
  21. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert J… I criticize bicycle lanes to varying degrees as is plainly seen on CT. I get the feeling that you are loathe to criticize ANY lanes at all. Perhaps we are talking past each other. And, again, goals play an important role in POV. I do not care one whit if participation increases if its cost is painting lines on the street. I’d prefer participation to increase through education.

    As you have cogently pointed out, that’s problematic. I accept that. Since increases in participation play such a minor role in my goals, I’m totally OK with that.

    So, OK, you’ve criticized in your comment lanes in which the gutter pan constitutes a significant width of the lane. Would it have killed you, then, to have supported me in these postings:




    All three of these entries show gutter lanes that are 1) out of AASHTO compliance and 2) the gutter pan is, along much of these routes, half the width of the lane.

    But what few comments you made either dismiss my criticism or continue your canard that I am marginalizing myself.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 10:49 am
  22. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal… Yes. I do believe we’ve hit a record number of comments for a single CT post. An no matter what the POV, I am honored by and appreciate all of the participation.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 10:54 am
  23. robert wrote:


    That is good criticism of my criticism. : )

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 11:20 am
  24. robert wrote:

    Another question for you guys:

    Why are so many of you wanting to draw such a distinction between a “trail” and a “bicycle highway.”

    The only “bicycle highway” that I’ve used were in Minneapolis. Admittedly, they looked like a wide paved recreational trail to me.

    Just because a pathway follows a creek, flood plain, abandened rail line or other easily buildable route doesn’t mean that it lacks usefullness for the transportation bicyclist.

    Why are we going to such pains to clarify one as awesome but unattainable and the other as child’s play. (My interpretation of the conversation).

    Further, if you were blind folder and taken to a trail/bicycle highway somewhere and then had the blindfold removed…what visual clues would you use to categorize the facility that you were on?

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 12:19 pm
  25. robert wrote:

    Sorry – classify not clarify.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 12:20 pm
  26. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Robert, a couple reasons. One, to make sure we all agree on what we are talking about. As John Schubert mentions above, a “bicycle highway” may mean something quite different from a “trail” in the same way that a secondary rural route differs from limited access intercity highway. A trail does not preclude intersections with other facilities such as roads or multipurpose use from walkers, joggers, skaters, etc. A bicycle highway, as discussed above, would be a purpose built facility for the exclusive use of bicyclists and would presumably have limited intersections with facilities that would slow cyclists down or introduce added hazards.

    I don’t think many of us get heartburn over trails and opportunistic use of right of way that can be obtained and put to use as a rail-trail or other such facility. Some of us are reticent to support a facility that would have a much higher cost per mile basis unless such could be justified.

    Perhaps someone could come up with a scenerio where a bicycle highway would connect two hubs with a single high speed spoke where an equivalent connection does not exist. Thus would be justification.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 12:52 pm
  27. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… OK, so next time gimme a little love when we actually agree 🙂

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 2:37 pm
  28. John Schubert wrote:

    Robert raises a good question:

    “Why are so many of you wanting to draw such a distinction between a “trail” and a “bicycle highway.””

    And…. he gave an example of how easy it is to have a language problem.

    The discussion was about “bicycle freeways.” “Highway” and “freeway” have v-e-r-y different meanings. I don’t think Robert meant to do a shift with words and meanings, but this is an illustration of something that can matter.

    “Bicycle freeway” is essentially a slang term. It means whatever the speaker wants it to mean. I responded to it by thinking of the utopian (and, in my expert opinion) absurdly unrealistic descriptions I have heard of grade-separated freeway-like separated corridors for bicyclists. My mental picture is of something like the elevated trains in Philadelphia. (Of course, other cities have them too.)

    I was not aware that the trails in Minneapolis were called “bicycle freeways.” Based on the photos I saw on the web, I concur with Robert that they look like . . . trails.

    What I’ve heard people claim for their vision of “bicycle freeways” is that you’d be able to go real fast on one. The New York Times Magazine once published an article predicting a future in which you’d go 50 mph on these things to commute to work (on your fully faired recumbent projectile, of course).

    Now…. let’s come down to reality. I’ll use as examples my four favorite separated trails nearest my house:

    — The Saucon Rail Trail connects Center Valley with Hellertown.
    — The D&L Trail connects Cementon with Bowmanstown
    — The Perkiomen Creek Trail connects Green Lane with Valley Forge
    — The Lehigh Canal Towpath connects Easton, Bethlehem and Allentown

    Here are some qualities they all share:

    — Grade crossings are infrequent.
    — None of them are paved.
    — Both because of the trail surface and because of the nature of other trail users, maximum safe speed is 15 mph or less, and when I see people walking their dogs, it’s a lot less.
    — All of them were built where the right of way was available, which affects how many people use them as transportation corridors. I doubt many people commute from Cementon to Bowmanstown. But the canal towpath is handy for several people I know, who live in one of those communities and work in another.
    — I think the people who use them would laugh if you called them “bicycle freeways.”

    I hereby renounce my earlier flippant comment comparing rural rail trails to “bicycle freeways.”

    I strongly suggest we stop using the term! It’s too easy to misinterpret to be useful communication.

    John Schubert

    P.S. Robert — I haven’t visited Chicago for some years. I do have a copy of the Chicago bike lane design manual, in which drawings that were purportedly drawn to scale were, in fact, NOT drawn to scale. (Cars in this book are 4 1/2 feet wide!) These drawings purported to show that non-door-zone bike lanes could be shoehorned into existing streets. The result: many miles of door zone bike lanes.

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 2:44 pm
  29. robert wrote:

    John –

    I appreciate your answers.

    About Chicago – Chicago is a City with a very strong role for the Mayor rather than the City Council. Change comes very swiftly when a new Mayor is elected and the new transportation Gabe Klein is certainly making sweeping changes.

    I’d say any comment about Chicago prior to May 2011 is not relevant…..other than it’s still cold and the taxes are insane.

    About the greenways/bicycle freeways/bicycle highways discussion. To me, this is a case of internet fodder that has no meaning to the outside world.

    For example, the fact that the safe speeds of a facility are over/under 15 mph matters to a very small % of bicyclist.

    Most of us are perfectly happy sharing a path with joggers, runners, walkers, kids and even the occasional deer wandering down the path. I’d rather do this than feel the breeze off of an 18-wheeler.

    In April I rode 40-miles per day from my suburb to another for a week-long writing seminar. About 30 miles of that ride was along bike/ped recreational trails and while I occasionally had to slow down because someone had a dog off of a leash or to keep from startling a jogger, I enjoyed it much more than the road portions.

    In fact, the only real part of that week that I remember was slowing to tell a 6-year old (ish) little girl that I thought her bike was pretty. She said thank you and then just when I was about out of hearing range I heard her say, “your bike is pretty too!” : )

    I know full well that most people on this board will not agree with me about the virtues of shared facilities, but I suspect that a lot of serious bicyclists do agree with me.

    I’m not sure I’d want to bicycle down a bicycle freeway or superhighway where the only point of the trip was to get somewhere as fast as possible. I’m also not sure that I’d want facilities where pedestrians and children have been vanquished.

    Slowing down is not neccesarily a bad thing.

    I suppose if the % of bike commuters starts to approach 10% then we will have such congestion on many greenways that we will have to reconsider their design?

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 3:41 pm
  30. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… You’re obviously well aware of the trails we have in Missouri (e.g. Katy) and the greenways we have in Springfield. They are recreational trails, but that doesn’t bother me at all. I use them when they lead to where I want to go. And while you sometimes have to dodge the occasional dog-walker (that always have mile-long leashes), the riding is really quite nice. We’re building more. We may even achieve something nearly like a connected system in the next 20 years. Hoo-ray for that!

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 3:50 pm
  31. Glenn wrote:

    I think your idea of vehicular cycling falls short of its true potential. I won’t pretend that a striped bike lane affords anything more than an allocated space on the road. However, most roads are “striped” to allocate space for cars, be it slow lanes, fast lanes, turn lanes or to differentiate opposing directions of traffic. By the very nature of the argument, we’ve established that we don’t need to allocate space for vehicles of differing velocities. To truly realize the potential sharing the road, we need to remove all road marking indicating allocated space on the road (with the possible exception of stop lines at intersections ). Until that happens, we’re being defeatist and admitting that the road is just for cars. I would include eliminating sidewalks as well – there’d be the added bonus of cost savings; concrete is very expensive in relation to asphalt. Separating pedestrian facilities just fosters a false sense of security. Just look at how indifferent most pedestrians are to 3000 lb plus vehicles. Removing sidewalks, and reallocating that space as part of the shoulder, would create more alert and safer pedestrians. If the road were just one big space, cars wouldn’t feel entitled to their lane and bikes could take their fair share of the road without being saddled with infrastructure built specifically for the automobile. Likely, traffic would slow down as a result as there’d be less confidence among drivers to speed through their “allocated” space.

    Anyway, just my take on improving on your concept. Comments?

    Posted 10 Dec 2012 at 8:20 pm
  32. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Is that a straw man, Glenn?

    Posted 11 Dec 2012 at 10:00 am
  33. Mighk Wilson wrote:


    Pavement markings work fine as long as they are consistent with the rules for vehicular movement. The point is to give good guidance to drivers (which includes bicyclists).

    Bike lanes do not give good guidance. They encourage (or force, depending on local laws) bicyclists to keep to the right of right-turning motorists and to stay in moving blind-spots. They also encourage left-turning cyclists to keep right until the intersection. They also encourage (or force, again depending on local laws) right-turning motorists to keep to the left of straight-ahead cyclists.

    No other type of pavement marking does that.

    Posted 11 Dec 2012 at 10:15 am
  34. Khal Spencer wrote:

    “Bike lanes” are lanes specific to a vehicle, regardless of speed or destination (in states with MBL laws). All other lanes are specific to destination and speed and vehicle neutral (except for some expressways that ban trucks from the leftmost lane. Hence the conflicts. Parsimony suggests keeping rules and operation as simple as possible. Complexity often creates conflict or more chances for error, i.e., so called “system accidents” and these have to be managed. By creating complexity and then creating ways to manage complexity, things get even more complex, i.e., Charles Perrow, “Normal Accidents”.

    I think that is borne out in traffic and why it gives some of us heartburn. KISS is a good principle.

    Posted 11 Dec 2012 at 12:49 pm
  35. Glenn wrote:

    RE: “straw man” – you’d think so, wouldn’t you? Maybe it was just a thought exercise on my part, but I was trying to determine how vehicular cycling could work better. A big issue raised in this forum is segregation. If we determine segregation is bad, why stop at bikes? We shouldn’t look at one aspect of the roadway without looking at the entire system. There are very wide roadways with no lanes, and despite my utter disbelief derived from my North American set of values, they seem to function. So maybe I’m being radical with my concept. If this is not about sharing the road and is just about spending zero dollars and leaving things the way they are, then I’ve obviously missed the point with my last post (still, the roads get repaved every so often and painting costs money). Personally, I don’t think the roads are fine how they are. The current road system is built for cars. Cars are at the cusp of becoming less relevant in the urban setting.

    If we determine perceived safety of sidewalks and lanes is a good thing, Why are we dismissing the perceived safety of bike lanes? Regardless of how safe I am statistically, I feel good when I think I’m safe. I feel good riding in a bike lane. I feel bad when there’s no bike lane. By that logic, bike lanes are good. The downside to perceived safety is that it encourages the road user to take more risks. Roads are designed for the perceived safety of drivers. If we remove some of that perceived safety, won’t people drive accordingly and improve the actual safety of all road users? Isn’t one of the problems of bike lanes the perceived safety which results in the cyclist, for example, feeling more comfortable passing other traffic on the right?

    It’s just a concept inspired by this post; I’m not saying it’s anywhere near perfect and I’d be surprised if anyone here agreed with it. But with the given speed differential in traffic, either more structure or less would be an improvement. Perhaps less structure in dense environments and more structure in sparsely populated areas where intersections are less frequent. I’m not a traffic engineer, nor do I play one on TV. If that makes me too open minded, so be it. 😀

    Posted 11 Dec 2012 at 1:51 pm
  36. Max Power wrote:

    Glenn’s “straw man” has been used with some degree of success in certain urban ares since the late 1960s

    Posted 11 Dec 2012 at 5:01 pm
  37. Glenn wrote:

    Max, great link! “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Not much original thought anymore, is there? Love it. Is this where I say so long and thanks for all the fish?

    Posted 11 Dec 2012 at 8:51 pm

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