BikePGH!

Bike lane less safe than sharrows!!!!

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ErinK

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Sep 6 2013 at 2:06pm #

My normal commute includes part of S. Braddock between Penn and Forbes. It’s a relatively quiet section and I never had any trouble with cars – UNTIL a few weeks ago when I first rode it after a tiny 3′ bike lane had been painted on the right side of the road.

I was passed within 2 feet by multiple cars when riding in the painted bike lane. This pretty much never happened before the line was there.

Problem is, cars think that if there’s a painted lane they don’t have to use the four foot rule. Without a painted lane, they give proper respect. Riding this same area before the lane was painted I always got 3-4 feet and a nice slow – or at least mindful – pass.

I actually have always avoided the bike lanes on Forbes for the same reason. They just don’t feel safe.

Please please please, Bike Pittsburgh – reconsider painting these lanes where they aren’t necessary. The road was fine without it. With it, in my experience, it’s definitely more dangerous.

Anyone else have similar experiences?


Mick

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Sep 6 2013 at 2:08pm #

Maybe some of the signs Stef suggested spelling out the four foot rule would be appropriate there?

And some plastic candlestick dividers could help, too.


Marko82

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Sep 6 2013 at 2:22pm #

I don’t use the bike lane on Friendship ave for the same reason (plus it’s in the door zone).


HiddenVariable

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Sep 6 2013 at 3:04pm #

i had a very similar experience riding along forbes from regent square into squirrel hill a few weeks ago. a bus passed me with about two feet to spare, which as you can guess is absolutely terrifying. similarly, i had a bus beep at me a week or two ago because i was taking the lane in a portion of the road where the bike lane is in the door zone and the road is too narrow to allow passing when i’m not up against the cars. it makes you reconsider their value.

edited to add: last year i rode in a bike lane in florida that was about three feet wide on the side of a seven lane road that was posted at like 55 mph. i wonder why no one ever uses those bike lanes!


MichaelArtman

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Sep 6 2013 at 3:12pm #

I hate to complain about bike infrastructure – but I feel the same way about the new bike lanes in Polish Hill.

Brereton St. is pretty wide, and I never had a problem riding on it. There is plenty of room for cars and bikes to co-exist, and especially on the downhill, bikes go fast enough cars never even need to pass. However, the new downhill bike lane spits bikes out in a position where they are seemingly susceptible to hooks. 99% of cars turn right at the bottom of the hill, where the bike lane ends. Cars misjudging how fast bikes go, or cars that assume cyclists stop where the lane ends might turn right into the bikes path.

On the uphill side, I used to always get 4 feet. Even though the road is unusually wide, many cars now drive right against the white line, and pass much faster than they used to pass me. I take the lane more often than not, but I know if I were to ever get hit there, it could be seen as my fault for not being in the bike lane.

I LOVE the fact there are sharrows all through Polish Hill now. So thanks to whomever was responsible for the Polish Hill sharrows. But the stretch of bike lane has me uneasy. I assume its the city that designs these lanes, and if thats the case, perhaps we should push for more community involvement when deciding where cyclists feel bike markings and lanes would be most beneficial, and where they are not necessarily needed.


ErinK

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Sep 6 2013 at 3:21pm #

Well, I know that bike lanes are seen as more effective for “traffic calming” so they might be an easier sell for political reasons.

But drivers really don’t understand that the 4′ rule still applies. On Forbes, it is still illegal to pass a cyclist in the right lane – there just isn’t room. But people do it all the time.

Candlestick barriers are only reinforcing the idea that the painted line offers some sort of physical protection. They’re not going to keep the drivers any further away. (Unless you were planning to place them 3′ outside the bike lane?!) ;)

I really like the idea of the 4′ passing reminder signage near these lanes though. That would be good.


Vannevar

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Sep 6 2013 at 8:21pm #

Cyclists do best when we’re recognized as vehicle operators and part of traffic flow and not segregated out by ill-conceived paint stripes that offer no true protection.

Painted bike lanes in the door zone offer all the disadvantages of apartheid with none of the benefits. To me, they don’t count as bike infrastructure. Stripes on the ground are concepts that the car-driving public has not decided to accept, and they offer no safety to a cyclist.

My personal decision (and other reasonable people may find a different conclusion, of course) is to take the lane. Use of the bike lane is not mandatory.


jonawebb

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Sep 6 2013 at 10:14pm #

If you don’t feel safe in the bike lane, just take the lane, and treat the honks as an audible signal that the motorist sees you. Wave hello.


scott

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Sep 6 2013 at 11:00pm #

The bike lane on South Braddock shouldn’t be less than 5′. If it is then the people who put it in made a mistake.

Vannevar, please describe what the advantages of apartheid were.


Vannevar

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Sep 6 2013 at 11:15pm #

Quite right, Scott. Instead of saying,
Painted bike lanes in the door zone offer all the disadvantages of apartheid with none of the benefits.

I very much should have said,
Painted bike lanes in the door zone offer all the disadvantages of apartheid and additional risk.

I regret my poor writing.
Cheers, V.


scott

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Sep 6 2013 at 11:23pm #

That parking is pretty long term parking, meaning it services 8-10 hour jobs not a business district which attracts higher parking turnover. Certainly doors open occasionally on Friendship Ave, but not very often.


Marko82

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Sep 7 2013 at 8:50am #

^ So now we’re supposed to take the temperature of the cars engine block as we approach to determine the likelihood of a car door opening? I treat EVERY door as though it will open the instant I get to it. Use the full lane.


HiddenVariable

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Sep 7 2013 at 10:28am #

Vannevar wrote:Quite right, Scott. Instead of saying,
Painted bike lanes in the door zone offer all the disadvantages of apartheid with none of the benefits.

I very much should have said,
Painted bike lanes in the door zone offer all the disadvantages of apartheid and additional risk.

I regret my poor writing.
Cheers, V.

no, what you should have done was not compare bike lanes to apartheid. in what world would anyone consider that a reasonable comparison? all the disadvantages? really?


Vannevar

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Sep 7 2013 at 3:31pm #

Some other people do talk about bicycles and apartheid; you could google those terms. For instance, these folks write about bicycle apartheid in terms of placing bike-share stations in affluent white neighborhoods rather than in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and that’s consistent with the traditional use of the term.

This flickr image has the caption, “While woman says bike lanes = apartheid, Hart Fisher looks on”. So somebody else considers the usage reasonable.

Here’s why I use that term. Some may disagree, and that’s not personal. This is the internet, people disagree.

With bike lanes, the Cyclist is assigned a subordinate place.
The Cyclist should know their place.
If they stray out of their place, the Drivers know that the cyclist deserves what they get.

The Drivers are fully Entitled to stray across the cyclist’s place whenever they “need” to (or want to) – to get around stopped traffic, to park, to rush, to unload, to open their doors, to avoid any delay.

The Drivers can brush right next to the cyclist in the striped bikeway.

The bikeway does not permit any left turns. Only Drivers may make left turns.

When there’s not enough room for the bike lane, it disappears.
We don’t have enough room for “your kind here”

What the bikelane delivers is “segregated lanes”. We call them segregated facilities. If you prefer to use “segregated” rather than “apartheid“, I can support that. Most bike infrastructure types readily use the S-word.

That “bike lane” is yours, Mr/Ms Cyclist, until somebody in a car wants it. Then it’s theirs, for driving or opening doors or parking. And you should accept that.

Because the Drivers have given you some place on the road, just like some small place on the back of the bus, Cyclists should feel grateful and show submissive respect.

Don’t be getting uppity. Don’t you dare be making any left turns in the lane.

Because if you do get uppity, they’ll kill you. And they’ll sympathize with the poor Driver who has to live with that emotional experience.


I don’t mean any offense. That’s how I feel about it.


Ahlir

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Sep 7 2013 at 3:53pm #

Apartheid seems a bit strong. We do get treated reasonably decently, at least compared to how blacks were treated in South Africa (or in the US for that matter).

But there (and here) there’s been progress. You have to work at it and get people to deal with you. We’e getting there. I prefer to think about it from Gandhi’s perspective:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

I’d like to believe we’re at stage 3, and within sight of stage 4.


jonawebb

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Sep 7 2013 at 4:16pm #

That’s not Gandhi, it’s some union leader. Look it up.
BTW, anyone comparing bike lanes to apartheid, or complaining about the comparison, is flirting with Godwin’s law. Just saying.


screbner

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Sep 7 2013 at 7:22pm #

+1 Vannevar. Still, I’m grateful for the bike lanes if only for their “drivers, there are bikes around here” awareness value. I too have been cited by Drivers when I strayed out of the painted bike lane to avoid the door zone or to make a left turn. When we’ve had a conversation as a result, I’ve explained why I strayed. Maybe their understanding improved as a result.


Ahlir

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Sep 7 2013 at 9:23pm #

hm. On the interwebs (which I checked at the time), it’s popularly attributed to Gandhi . But with a bit of work I did find this:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Describing the stages of a winning strategy of nonviolent activism.
There is no record of Gandhi saying this. A close variant of the quotation first appears in a 1918 US trade union address by Nicholas Klein:
“And, my friends, in this story you have a history of this entire movement. First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you. And that, is what is going to happen to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.”
– Proceedings of the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (1918), p. 53 *

The Gandhi-sh version is more succinct and definitely makes for a punchier quote (as happens with many such pronouncements). I still stand by my appraisal of where we stand. And on the whole I’d rather we didn’t have to go through those burning or monument stages; I’m happy with just getting some respect on the road. More generally accuracy trumps effect, always.

I agree with the Godwin flag, though I’m not sure who lost (or won) since we all seem to be on the same side relative to the them.


Vannevar

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Sep 7 2013 at 9:55pm #

Ahlir:we all seem to be on the same side relative to the them

Amen.

There are people who believe (for instance) that describing the gay rights movement in comparison to the civil rights movement, and/or describing same-sex marriage relative to miscegenation laws is not appropriate.

Personally, I get the similarities and the impact while recognizing the vast differences, and I see both the similarities and differences with the bike lanes issue. The metaphor works for me in a year of dead cyclists. The status quo is killing us and society finds that acceptable.

Godwin Himself says his Rule has been twisted beyond anything he intended; all Godwin wrote was: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. link1, link2.

To bring it back to the OP’s comment (if I understand it rightly, Bike Lane Less Safe Than Sharrows), I think bike lanes are a dangerous, second-class construct that fosters misconceptions and negative outcomes; that sharrows are much better in terms of maintaining presence of mind among the Drivers; and (imo) bikes belong in the lane.

My compliments and respect to you all. Cheers, V.


ErinK

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Sep 7 2013 at 10:40pm #

Hi Scott – it might be 5′ but there’s junk in the gutter and sewer grates I usually dodge because I’m chicken to ride over them – it feels pretty narrow to me. I’ll take a better look at it next week and let you know if it’s actually too narrow.


HiddenVariable

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Sep 8 2013 at 12:03am #

@Vannevar: i recognize that the difference is in degree, not kind. however, i also feel that the difference in degree is so significant, and the emotions tied up in that difference so great, that the comparison is offensive. apartheid is one of the few words in our language that has a general definition and yet is almost universally used to refer to one thing. at some point, that will surely change, but for the time being, co-opting the word is going to alienate potential allies, at best.

and to those complaining about the complaining, at least we’re not complaining about the complaining about the complaining.


Steven

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Sep 8 2013 at 5:55am #

Vannevar wrote:I think bike lanes are a dangerous, second-class construct that fosters misconceptions and negative outcomes; that sharrows are much better in terms of maintaining presence of mind among the Drivers; and (imo) bikes belong in the lane.

In all cases?

As I see it, sometimes bike lanes are the better choice, sometimes sharrows. I’m not happy they’re going with sharrows on West Carson, for instance. I’d really like a segregated bike path through there. Second choice for there: bike lanes; third: sharrows; fourth: nothing. But I’d rather see sharrows on westbound Friendship, not a bike lane.

Are you happy they’re putting sharrows on West Carson instead of bike lanes?

For me, which of the two is best depends on whether there are parked cars, many intersections, the road’s slope, car speed, number of lanes, width of the various lanes, maybe other factors.

How often drivers open doors into a bike lane isn’t as important as the mere fact that they can. For me, that’s enough to make the bike lane on westbound Friendship unsafe.

The bike lane on Beechwood is often in the door zone, but Beechwood is wide enough that cars can give me 4 feet when I ride on its left edge, or just outside, to clear the door zone. Not so with Friendship. There’s no safe way to use the bike lane.


edmonds59

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Sep 8 2013 at 7:17am #

Everyone needs to realize that all of us in North America, from Janette Sadik Kahn to the Yinzer driving the quad cab 4X4 Ford, are in the toddling stages of the learning process. I think Scott has said this before – we put SOMETHING in place, see how it works, and continue to adjust and improve. I think the OP started things off quite constructively and usefully. It would be good if everyone could view the comments not as ‘complaining’ about the infrastructure, but as part of this process.
Even if we had the luxury of having the world’s most brilliant European traffic planner, omniscient and omnipresent, on call to identify and propose the ultimate solutions to which kind of paint line goes where, even they would be confounded by the belligerent and uncooperative society we are working within. We Americans have been quietly taught to walk around with our hands on our triggers, always alert to the possibility of someone taking a thing that might be ours, rather than considering a solution that might be best for all of us.
I had to put that last bit in because I didn’t want anyone thinking I woke up with rose colored contacts in.


Vannevar

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Sep 8 2013 at 3:15pm #

Steven wrote:In all cases?

- – -

Are you happy they’re putting sharrows on West Carson instead of bike lanes?

Since you asked: Yes, and Yes, if you mean painted bike lanes.

I think that paint-striped bike lanes are dangerous for reasons already stated. Given a choice between painted bike lanes and sharrows, I’ll prefer sharrows every time.

Jersey-barrier segregated bike lanes (for instance, SC) are completely wonderful on streets that appropriately have speed limits over (say) 25 mph. I would be pleased to see that on West Carson Street.

Peace out, V.


jonawebb

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Sep 8 2013 at 4:50pm #

I, for one, would much prefer a painted bike lane to sharrows on West Carson (given that there’s no parking). I don’t think sharrows mean anything to most drivers, if they see them at all. But a painted bike lane marks the edge of the driving lane, and at least creates some space motorists don’t normally go.


stefb

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Sep 8 2013 at 6:02pm #

Except the bike lane ends abruptly and puts you right into a curb around 10th st


Astrobiker

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Sep 8 2013 at 6:44pm #

I would vastly prefer to have bike lanes on practically all streets in Pittsburgh rather than sharrows on practically all streets.

Are there current bike lanes that are not ideally installed: yes.

Are there cases where sharrows are useful and helpful in the current infrastructure: absolutely.

But my ultimate goal is not the enabling of people who can ride at 18 mph to more easily ride in city traffic. That’s a good goal and we’re making good progress toward that, and one which I personally appreciate and make use of on a daily basis.

My ultimate goal is creating a city where everyone feels safe to ride in the city, regardless of their speed or riding-with-car-traffic confidence.

I want my 8-year to be able to ride to school.
I want my partner to feel perfectly comfortable riding to the store to pick something up. I want my 70-year colleague to be able ride to work. And, I want a city in which everyone else thinks these things are all perfectly reasonable things to do.

Bike lanes, separated paths/cycleways where appropriate, quiet safe streets that are safe to ride on, and intelligently designed intersections that safely support the interplay of all modes of traffic are all important parts of this future.


unicyclemike

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Sep 9 2013 at 12:22pm #

The bike lane on Braddock is at least 5′ from the curb. I did a quick measurement this morning on my way into work.

Personally I have found that my commute on Braddock Ave is more enjoyable with the lane and sharrows. I used to have cars overtaking me to pass others on the right or turn on a regular basis especially at rush hour. Since the road markings have been put in I have not had this happen.

As for cars passing too close. I can not say that it is more or less than before the lane went in. I too had many close calls on Braddock Ave and Forbes Ave. These close passes have happened with bike lanes but also happened before they went in. My feeling is probably less but I have no data to back that up.


erok

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Sep 9 2013 at 3:02pm #

To compare a bike lane to apartheid is shameful.


StuInMcCandless

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Sep 9 2013 at 4:01pm #

Agreed that it is a loaded term, with a lot of baggage, most of it negative. Probably not the best term to use.

But I think V’s point-by-point depiction of what he meant by that term in his post a few posts up on this page (quick link) is a more objective analysis of what’s really going on.

I think I’ve said this in three posts in the last few days: We have a long way to go. Hackles are raised. Plenty of yinzers in 4×4 trucks who don’t give a rat’s ass about pansy cyclists, spandex or not. Plenty of damn fools (see my suffer-fools-gladly thread) whose minds won’t be changed at all, ever. They’re both going to give us shit, much the same way as a black person in Pretoria or Selma would have been (or still may be) treated. There are still people who oppose miscegenation.

Just never mind them. One of them may well yet kill one of us, and have no idea why they got a vehicular homicide charge. I am really trying to think positively, but it’s hard.

Every piece of infrastructure we put out there makes it easier for someone else to get around. Every cyclist who joins our ranks makes it harder for the haters to ignore us. Those who hate the most are also the oldest, so eventually they will die out, mainly.

Like it or not, the terms apartheid and segregated are apt. A good many people’s minds can be changed. Lots more of them. Work on them.


helen s

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Sep 9 2013 at 4:31pm #

“Those who hate the most are also the oldest, so eventually they will die out, mainly.”

In a particularly heated argument on race relations years ago I told my uncle that unless he could change his mind, the world would be a better place when he died. The station wagon filled with family members got real silent for a long time.


unicyclemike

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Sep 9 2013 at 4:45pm #

Can we bring this thread back on topic.

Thanks,


JaySherman5000

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Sep 9 2013 at 6:10pm #

The primary debate ITT (bike lanes vs sharrows) seems to be lifted straight from a Yehuda Moon comic I read at least 2 years ago.

I strongly believe that this “debate” is the cyclists’ version of “cut or uncut.” It’s pointless to argue about, because no matter how you see it, someone’s getting the shaft.


Ahlir

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Sep 9 2013 at 6:40pm #

Um, not touching that one, Jay…

But are there national standards for bike lanes (width etc.)? That we can simply argue about which lanes are out of spec.

For the record, I think sharrows are great, as are lanes. Even better is how the two can be made to work in concert, like on Liberty near the Bloomfield Bridge.


Mick

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Sep 9 2013 at 6:42pm #

Ahlir wrote:First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.I’d like to believe we’re at stage 3, and within sight of stage 4.

I’d say we are at the beginning of stage three.

It’s only been a year or two since there were people that would ask with a sneer on their face every time they saw me, “Are you still riding your bike?”

I’m thinking we’ll go through a NYC-type phase, where bikers get ticketed for any tiny non-life-threatening violation and drivers continue to be unchecked in their awful behavior.


Vannevar

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Sep 9 2013 at 6:48pm #

JaySherman5000 wrote:the cyclists’ version of “cut or uncut.”

Well said. I went looking for the Yehuda Moon comic, couldn’t find it, but I did come across this-


JaySherman5000

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Sep 9 2013 at 7:50pm #

@Vannevar: After some searching, I think the specific comic I was “remembering” doesn’t actually exist. When I used to read YM, I would often read the comments, and that’s where I was steered to John Forester. My brain must’ve amalgamated the YM comic with the debate that raged through its comment section.

From the Forester site: “Bikeways neither make cycling much safer nor reduce the skill required. They probably do the reverse.

Government knows that bikeways don’t make cycling safer, but it uses the public superstition that they do.”

et cetera, et cetera, and so on, ad nauseum…

The best “compromise argument” can be boiled down thusly:

Bike lanes are not the safest option, but they promote cycling. And the more cyclists there are on the road, the more aware of them motorists will become, and the better off all cyclists will be.


JaySherman5000

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Sep 9 2013 at 8:11pm #

This also seems relevant:

(click it to make it bigger)


buffalo buffalo

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Sep 9 2013 at 9:14pm #

Error 403 Forbidden — it may be that you have to link the page the image was posted to. A lot of comics, especially older ones that date to when bandwidth was much more expensive, require this to keep their costs down and prevent hotlinking.

(A couple related blog posts: f%^# you, john franklin ; Forester v. Facts ; Franklin and Forester quotes, in a Dutch context)


JaySherman5000

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Sep 9 2013 at 9:23pm #

clicking the image works fine in my browser, maybe it’s a board issue? anyhoo, here’s the page:

http://www.yehudamoon.com/comics/2008-06-06.gif

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