« Back to Archive

Recycled Plastic "Armadillo" Dividers

I saw this article shared on FB and thought, "what a wonderful way to create a versatile, inexpensive, non-intrusive separated bike space." I wonder if they could play a role in the Better Bikeways plan?
2014-03-01 22:10:13
Nice idea. But I'd be concerned about winter plowing. Not that we get much plowing of bike lanes yet, but that could change.
2014-03-01 22:36:42
I'd be concerned about plows clearing the main road taking these out.
2014-03-02 06:26:04
It's a good idea, but just like paint, it doesnt really make the cyclist safer.
2014-03-02 11:50:41
Marko82 wrote:It’s a good idea, but just like paint, it doesnt really make the cyclist safer.
We need to add nail or two inside of those plastic dividers so every time car weired onto bike lane a visit to repair shop is a must.
2014-03-02 18:28:35
Marko82 wrote:We need to add nail or two inside of those plastic dividers so every time car weired onto bike lane a visit to repair shop is a must.
They would at least be harder to knock down than the candlesticks they use in homestead by the cyclepath past the pump house. It's amazing how terrible people are at driving on a relatively mild roadway like that at the waterfront. Seriously, this is why we need to re-test drivers ever few years and make driving tests harder. Also, see the cars hitting buildings thread for more examples.
2014-03-03 16:19:31
Those are very cool. Looks easy to implement, cost?? That said, reading this thread illustrates why infrastructure is so hard to get; This is a cycling board, a captive audience if you will. Here a person suggests a great idea to establish separated bikeways, and 3 people, who would absolutely benefit from them, present reasons why it will not work. This is a cycling group. Imagine what happens when the real discussions take place in a room full of bureaucrats who are not cyclists.
2014-03-04 05:53:47
ericf wrote:Here a person suggests a great idea to establish separated bikeways, and 3 people, who would absolutely benefit from them, present reasons why it will not work.
And those concerns are very valid. Sarah or Paul already mentioned that cost of replacing candlesticks every year is pretty high.
2014-03-04 08:41:19
Cyclists must think about these things more than anyone else, evaluating practicality and so on. So if an idea gets picked apart here and maybe remade and eventually approved it's probably a pretty good idea. Bureaucrats would very likely end up approving the idea without giving it as much thought.
2014-03-04 09:10:08
^Was going to say something like that. The plowing concern is entirely valid.
2014-03-04 09:11:47
The Armadillo is just a small, gentle bump
lol. Gentle. Gentle enough to rip your suspension off.
2014-03-05 02:20:58
If the armadillos were simple sandbags, intended to be put in place only for summer months and blasted to bits by plows in the winter, that would be fine. Maybe some sort of tough adhesive to keep them in place and deter theft. ^^We are not shooting down ideas. We are posing serious concerns to the presented alternatives and suggesting improvements therein. That's what a discussion board is for. Chances are good that we would come up with several acceptable solutions to the problem at hand here. We've done it before.
2014-03-06 08:23:13
My apologies, I did not mean to offend anyone. I agree that many good ideas are hashed out here, and that is what a message board is for. I was just making an off the cuff observation, kind of like "a day in the life of a law". How difficult it must be to arrive at a consensus, with so many different positions on an issue. What if the armadillos were accompanied by "DO NOT PLOW" signs?
2014-03-06 08:48:49
I have always envisioned that bike lanes formed by things like the "candlesticks", or these armadillos, or even paint lines, should be strongly established in conjunction with more formidable barriers at lane ends and all intersections such as concrete "jersey" barriers, before changing over to the less costly and intrusive lane markers. This would cause motor vehicle drivers to observe the lanes more rigorously, while at the same time minimize concerns about lane cleaning and emergency vehicle access.
2014-03-06 09:10:46
DO NOT PLOW is part of our current problem with bike lanes. Either you have something removable, something you blow away and rebuild every year, or this is something that makes fair weather cycling nicer at the expense of those who ride all year. Now, I'll certainly grant, we're a pretty unrepresentative bunch here. Most people who do ride stop in winter and most who might ride do not take the idea that they might ride all four seasons very seriously. However, what I come back to is this. We're talking about transportation infrastructure. Sub-par is one thing. Useless 40% of the time for 3 months out of the year is quite another. And while the ranks are thin right now, they're thicker per my estimation than they were during last winter, which was much much milder. If that's true, Pittsburgh would not be the only place that's happening: I think as advocates, the onus of being forward looking in these sorts of ways is upon us. After all, who else will?
2014-03-06 09:39:10
Sort of along the lines of Stu's idea, but more "armadillo"-ish. A reasonable el-cheapo (and hence disposable annually) divider material might be used up tires, chopped into 1/8ths.
2014-03-06 09:55:04
^Whoa! I like that idea. Direct upcycling.
2014-03-06 10:06:00
Not exactly sure how the tires would be used, but steel belts from tires are one of the major sources of flats for me -- those fine wires work through the tread and create a slow leak.
2014-03-06 10:41:33
A Rumblestrip would probably do a pretty good job. Also, Marko, even though those don't totally preclude a car getting into the bike lane, it would keep them from casually crossing the line as though the bike lane doesn't matter (see: curves on Beechwood Blvd.)
2014-03-06 17:52:12
@mick. I am NOT absolutely against these, but lets be clear how helpful they are. If a driver positions their car so that they are a foot away from these markers, and the cyclist is in the middle of most of Pittsburgh’s bike lanes, I’ll bet that the car is closer than the four feet required by law. So the cyclist feels protected, the driver believes they are driving responsibly, and yet we still have an unsafe pass. It gives a false sense of safety to both cyclists and drivers. I might be in the minority, but I think a bad bike lane is way worse than not having any lane (see Friendship as an example).
2014-03-06 18:35:01
Bike lanes without protection are really not much more than a cheap compromise. I think they're usually better than nothing, but not always, and not much. What we really need are bike lanes protected by Jersey barriers, or bike lanes between parking and the curb, the way they do it in Copenhagen. We should be able to ride on the streets without entrusting our lives to drivers following the rules and staying within the lines.
2014-03-06 20:29:49
A bike lane is about defining expectations. If those expectations are unreasonable (a bike lane in the door zone, or has more than a little of the following: potholes, debris, or frozen slop) then the bike lane is hugely counter productive. I also think they can be counter productive when they run up too close to an intersection. There needs to be some time to get over and make a left turn. I'd like to see a more intrusive and informative visual treatment, some angled lines, solid in the lane adjacent to the bike lane, dashed beyond that with a bike graphic and sharrows aproaching intersections. And of course, we all see plenty of drivers who refuse to live by the expectations set out by bike lanes. But I still think most driver's lane positioning is more ok when there's a lane, and I think there's less variability in that positioning when there are lanes. In particular, I think it gets a little better behavior out of drivers that come in with a bad attitude, which is important because they're disproportionately the dangerous ones. Even the guy who came to these boards to start the "Bicycles who should not be on the road, period!" thread backtracked to trails and bike lanes. So on balance, I think they're better than sharrows when both are reasonable options. And I think they're especially better when it comes to attracting would be riders. New riders and would be riders are generally consumed with a fear of a driver coming from behind and nailing them. It's easier for them to imagine that passes might be uneventful if they see it written out on the paint. I know that's how my wife thinks about this stuff even though I've been doing it safely 5X a week, more or less, for a year and a half mostly on roads without dedicated lanes. As for supplementing with physical barriers, there's a big upside in comfort and a big downside in terms of the practical difficulty maintaining the space for bikes, and I'd say the same of both little armadillos and full jersey barriers, it's not that there isn't a difference, it's just not all that large once you get to something that seriously would jack up a suspension. For comparison, sidewalk curbs are only so high. I like the warmer months barriers up, colder months barriers down approach as a way to deal with the frozen slop, which is generally the worst problem, while still making the uninitiated feel welcome when they're more likely to ride.... though you might need to pull the barriers up for fall as well (the second worst clearing problem). Anways, I don't know if there's a way to make that a feasible thing from a budgetary standpoint. Right now we're in such an early stage of refitting our transportation network to make riding inviting, I'd probably rather see the money spent on just paint, augmenting lanes approaching intersections and sharrowing more, striping more lanes, and (this is kinda big I think and nobody seems to talk about it) repainting center lines on roads to make the uphill lane wider and/or taking out the climbing side street parking. Bonus if doing that makes room for a lane... our biggest need for them is on those uphills.
2014-03-06 21:55:59
I was just looking at the Dutch recommendations for cycling infrastructure in "less developed countries" ( They just raise the height of the cycletrack, which protects it against automobiles in the same way pedestrians are protected by sidewalks. That seems like a better idea to me than Jersey barriers, since you don't have the visual obstruction or physical obstruction to pedestrians. It's not quite as safe, and you know drivers are still going to park on the cycletrack the way they sometimes park on sidewalks, but it seems like a fair tradeoff. And I think it would be possible to plow a raised cycletrack more easily than one protected by any other kind of barrier, should you want to do it.
2014-03-07 09:11:11
I like that answer, somewhat. When road speeds are high and intersections are infrequent. Which is something I'd also say about most forms of separated infrastructure. But this would be easier to plow than most. One warning, the comparison you invite by structuring the facility that way is to sidewalk, which will inevitably yield to groaning about why cyclists can't ride on the existing sidewalk. Of course, smoothness and separation from pedestrians matters a WHOLE lot so this is categorically better, but it's a harder argument I think. Once something is on the same "level" it's thought of as the same sort of thing. Background thought to confuse matters more... why is sidewalk made of these hard shifting slabs that kinda suck to walk on and really suck to jog on, and that's not counting winter when by virtue of unevenness (and bad policy making), no plows run over them to clear them? If you do make these changes (and the sidewalk is made wide enough (which most can't (but a few can))), does the previously invalid comparison become valid? MUPs at that side of the road?? Anyways...
2014-03-07 09:56:13