I had an interesting encounter on Boonville yesterday on my way to the Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee meeting of the Traffic Advisory Board (more on the meeting tomorrow).
The section of Boonville through Jordan Valley has a door-zone bicycle lane. I was stopped at the light at Olive heading north. I was first at the light. There were three cars behind me.
When the light turned green I proceeded north taking my position in roughly the right tire track of the lane. The cars followed me at a respectful distance.
There was plenty of opportunity for these drivers to pass me. Traffic was light and there was lots of lane width and no on-coming traffic. But they stayed behind me.
Until we got to the bicycle lane.
What happened next is exactly what I thought would happen. Normally, I do not ride in the bicycle lane on Boonville. But this time I entered the lane at its beginning taking a position close to the line itself so that my relative position to the cars behind me didn’t change much. It took only seconds for the inevitable to happen. The cars behind me accelerated and passed me.
Nothing had changed except the line that marked the bicycle lane. The traffic was still light — no on-coming traffic. The lane width — from parked cars to center stripe — was still the same. Yet now they decided to pass.
Guess how much passing room they gave me.
Normal driver behavior in Springfield: Cars change lanes or otherwise give a substantial amount of passing room.
Bicycle lane behavior: That line painted on the road is a barrier that allows close passing by motor vehicles.
Depending upon a bit of paint on the road to keep you safe in traffic is a lot lot depending on a bit of foam and plastic to keep your head safe if you actually do collide with a car. It’s a fantasy.
What I meant to say: Safety in traffic is to be found, for the most part, in how we ride — our attitude toward traffic and our ability to cope — and not in objects of supposed safety, e.g. lines on the road.