This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

protected bike lanes

Following on the heel of the last post, the forums and blogosphere seem to be all "a twitter" (I love that pun) with the idea that protected bike lanes are being developed.  Jan Heine posted a detailed criticism of the idea on his blog, and another Chicago blogger is all excited about visiting Indianapolis to see the "great" idea in action. After reading the Treehugger article and watching the video, the trail in question is ornate and attractive but appears to be more of a recreational path and extra sidewalk than a practical piece of cycling infrastructure.  Like the ones in our own community these are vastly popular.  While many studies have shown the value of trail development as linear parks and recreational attractions to communities,

 there is no real hard data to suggest they are better for transportation.  I am of two minds, well maybe three.  The lanes protected with bullards, curbs schrubs, flowers etc.  provide a barrier of sorts between cars
 and seem to be safer, but are they?

 A car can, and probably will, drive right over or through those barriers at some point, so the barriers provide nothing more than an elaborate visual seperation between the cyclist and the stream of traffic.  It seems to me that the seperation provides a false sense of security to both the drivers and the cyclists.  This false barrier also dissembles the most important safety factor which has been documented; visibility.

 Personally I think the protected lanes obscure the cyclists presence somewhat, until, as Heine points out, they reach an intersection.  So, like a sidewalk, this will introduce some unexpected interaction for both the drivers and cyclists and have the potential for being more dangerous than a simple marked designated lane for cyclists.

 An open lane which is marked and designated for cyclists, maintains visibility much better and provides more efficient movement for the cyclist to enter the traffic pattern when necessary, for left turns for example.  Perhaps most important, the barriers are unnecessarily expensive and more lanes could be developed and provide more safety using just paint rather than expensive ornaments.

And, in a more perfect world, we can change all our values, 
discard the wine and microbrews and embrace the future of cycling.

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