So you’re riding along in bicycle lane thinking you’re safe because, well, isn’t that what we’re led to believe? Isn’t that why bicycle lanes are painted in the first place? They are not painted to solve any traffic problem that exists, i.e. help the orderly and safe flow of traffic according the well-establish rules of safe movement.
Riding in bicycle lanes can get you killed. Here’s the latest example of a right-hook crash caused in part by a poorly-designed bicycle lane. The lane is painted to the intersection, thus encouraging bicyclists to ride to the right of right-turning traffic.
This photograph shows the problem. Notice that the lane line becomes dashed, indicating that both bicyclists and motorists should cross it as necessary. But there is no further encouragement for the bicyclist to merge left out of the lane before the intersection — exactly what bicyclists should do.
The moment you find yourself on the right of a line of traffic within the same travel lane at an intersection, think to yourself: I could die now. Then move left into the traffic line.
While I have been, and will remain, critical of many of the new bicycle lanes painted in Springfield recently (because they present other dangers), we are lucky that our city has handled intersections properly: The lane ends before the intersection, and a sharrow indicates to all traffic users that bicyclists will merge left before passing through the intersection.
Other cities have done a poor job, including the much-ballyhooed Portland, Oregon. There they have tried to mitigate the damage (and deaths) by creating bicycle boxes. But these are a pasted-on solution. What they ought to do is repaint their lanes.
Or, radical thought, how about allow bicyclists to use the streets as they are? It’s safer.