Keeping An Eye On Engineering

One of the unfortunate things about the bicycle lanes (and mandatory use law) in Portland, Oregon is that many of the lanes there were painted right up to the intersections. That creates a deadly right-hook danger. Thankfully, the city traffic engineers in Springfield know better. Bicycle lanes here end well before intersections, and sharrows indicate to everyone that bicyclists will use the travel lane.

bikeboxPortland went looking for answers to its deadly intersections and came up with the idea of the bike box — a band-aid for a bad situation, one that causes its own unique problems (re-visit the first link above).

What should be done when the bicycle infrastructure that gets built causes problems or, in the case of some lanes painted here, is out of compliance with recognized standards and, therefore, is likely to cause problems? More band-aids?

How about this?

Rip. It. Up.

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Comments 19

  1. Tom Armstrong wrote:

    I’ve said elsewhere that “Rube Goldberg is a horrible traffic engineer.” Bike boxes (coffins?) are evidence of that.

    Posted 23 Jun 2013 at 1:04 pm
  2. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Agree. Take out the giant paint eraser.

    Posted 23 Jun 2013 at 2:00 pm
  3. Steve A wrote:

    Ocean Shores bike lanes are all painted right up to the intersections – in accordance for design guidelines for lightly traveled streets. Bike lane use is NOT mandatory in Washington State so nobody is exposed to right hooks unless they so choose.

    Posted 23 Jun 2013 at 3:32 pm
  4. Michael wrote:

    Yep, rip it up.

    Posted 23 Jun 2013 at 7:58 pm
  5. Andy Cline wrote:

    Steve … OK, here’s the thing — remember the honk reports I used to do? Well, I continue to enjoy nearly honk-free bicycling in Springfield. I cannot remember the last honk. It’s been months now. But I know where I can get honked at instantly. Ride on any street in SGF that has a bicycle lane and ride outside the lane in traffic. The honks will come. So just because there is not a mandatory use law doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing for the average or novice rider to do to simply ignore the lane. There’s a social pressure there. You can I don’t give a rip, obviously ;-)

    Posted 24 Jun 2013 at 8:00 am
  6. Khal Spencer wrote:

    The problem I have with flawed markings is that such markings legitimize bad practice. I doubt that Steve, I, or Andy would mindlessly ride into a right hook scenerio, stripes or not. What worries me is the newbie or naive rider who is under the flawed impression that the stripes always correspond with best practice.

    Can anyone imagine painting broken lines on blind curves and thus legitimizing passing in such a situation? Stripes SHOULD be consistent with best practice.

    Posted 24 Jun 2013 at 10:36 am
  7. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal… Yes. You’ve hit that nail on the head. And that’s the basis for my contention that constructing lanes that put novices in danger is immoral. The whole reason novices want lanes is because they think lanes are safe. If, in fact, certain types of lanes are not safe, then everyone involved in planning, constructing, and promoting them is morally responsible for the outcome.

    Posted 24 Jun 2013 at 3:00 pm
  8. Steve A wrote:

    Novices think riding on driveway-crossed sidewalks against traffic is safe. Does that make constructing such immoral? BTW, I am amazed at how different are the FTR rules between WA and TX.

    Posted 24 Jun 2013 at 5:52 pm
  9. Khal Spencer wrote:

    There is no implication, when building sidewalks, that they should be cycled on, nor that bicyclists should ride against traffic on them. Bike lanes explicitly imply bicycling in them.

    Posted 24 Jun 2013 at 10:29 pm
  10. Kevin Love wrote:

    Wow! What crappy infra. People should know better. Here is a video about how to do intersections correctly:

    http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/junction-design-for-safer-cycling-netherlands/

    I rather agree with the gentleman in Vienna who runs the CROW-ize Vienna blog. Here is his take on an intersection there.

    http://crowize-vienna.blogspot.ca/2013/05/burgtor-3rd-time-lucky.html

    Perhaps what Springfield needs is a CROW-ize Springfield blog to point out how to do things properly.

    Posted 25 Jun 2013 at 9:09 pm
  11. Andy Cline wrote:

    Kevin… Well, yes, we need to follow some kind of standard here. Personally, I’m happy with the streets as they are ;-)

    Posted 26 Jun 2013 at 8:52 am
  12. RANTWICK wrote:

    Most cyclists don’t know or care whether lane use is mandatory, I bet. Novices, as others have said, will follow the paint, which is a shame.

    http://www.rantwick.com/2013/06/simple-right.html

    Posted 26 Jun 2013 at 11:26 am
  13. JAT in Seattle wrote:

    Ooh, following the esteemed Rantwick – exciting!

    Obviously the boxes were set up in response to somebody’s idea of how the right hook happens: at a stop light when the light turns green everyone proceeds forward in “their” lane and then straight proceeding cyclists get crushed by the right turning autos – so the solution is to have the cyclists filter to the front and start from in front of the autos…except that’s only how it works a small part of the time.

    I’d be willing to wager (but unwilling to do the research to find out) that most right hooks happen when the light is and has been green for a while – the auto passes the cyclist and then – either through oblivion or through a miscalculation of speed – slows to make the turn at which point the cyclist arrives and is crushed.

    Obvious to us here (well, not Kevin, and he has no idea how his Dutch chicane bikey ghetto lanes postings make me gnash my teeth…), it’s better to be behind or in front of a turning auto than beside it and paint can’t fix that…

    Also obvious is the way “vehicular” cycling is reviled by many in the bikey community as only being practicable (see what I did there?) for the fearless, but there’s a huge difference between being fearless and being assertive.

    I won’t cower over in the gutter, but when I pull up to a line of cars stopped at a light I pull in behind the car I arrived behind rather than filter forward. I won’t make motorists pass me twice, but I’m unapologetic to those behind me if I’m claiming the lane more slowly then they’d like to go.

    Hey, if being behind me makes you so angry you should leave earlier!

    P.S. the syrup is Awesome!

    Posted 26 Jun 2013 at 1:44 pm
  14. Andy Cline wrote:

    JAT… Yeah, the whole “fearless” thing is just dumb. Speaking of fear… I spent the first hour or two of my five days of riding in Amsterdam (last summer) scared absolutely shitless. The problem: nothing I knew about how to keep myself safe works in that bizzaro world. (The cars are not the problem. I’m not scared of those. It’s the throngs of oblivious bicyclists crammed into far too little space.) I never wanted a helmet so much in my life ;-)

    Posted 26 Jun 2013 at 4:52 pm
  15. Kevin Love wrote:

    Andy wrote:

    “Personally, I’m happy with the streets as they are…”

    Kevin’s comment:

    That’s because you and I are members of the top 1%. See:

    http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/158497

    My moral and ethical beliefs prevent me from advocating for a system that works for me but excludes 99% of other people.

    I would also be willing to wager that less than one-third of the few remaining cyclists in Springfield are female. Probably more like 25%. My moral and ethical beliefs really, really prevent me from condoning a system that features systemic discrimination.

    Fortunately, there is an alternative of Sustainable Safety that includes everyone.
    See:

    http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2010/01/sustainable-safety.html

    Posted 27 Jun 2013 at 1:47 am
  16. Andy Cline wrote:

    Kevin… I reject the idea that only to “top 1%” can use the streets we have. It’s a matter of education and socialization. Hence, my moral system is offended by suggestions that citizens cannot or ought not use the streets they have paid for.

    Posted 27 Jun 2013 at 10:54 am
  17. Kevin Love wrote:

    Unfortunately, education and socialization have a 100% track record of failure. And not for lack of trying. These things are cheap so they have been repeatedly tried. And repeatedly failed.

    Your own words of yesterday provide a fascinating example of the power of subjective safety. You write of being “scared absolutely shitless” whilst cycling in Amsterdam. And go on to write “The cars are not the problem. I’m not scared of those.”

    In terms of actual safety, I would be willing to wager that the number of people in Amsterdam that are killed each year by being hit by a bicycle is approximately zero. And that the number of people hit, crushed and killed by car drivers is a number significantly larger than zero.

    This is subjective safety in action: What you are used to (cars) you do not fear even although the actual danger they pose is much higher than what you do fear (bicycles).

    Similarily, look at another system that you are used to: academic appointments at the University of Missouri. If there were three times as many men as women being appointed, you may suspect that the way the system was set up had the effect of discriminating against women.

    I have no problem saying that the way a transportation system is set up has the effect of discriminating against women when male cyclists outnumber female by three to one.

    Posted 27 Jun 2013 at 4:59 pm
  18. Andy Cline wrote:

    Kevin… I’m not frightened of cars in any locations that I ride a bicycle ;-) I wonder why.

    Granted, the education thing is problematic — largely a function of culture.

    Posted 03 Jul 2013 at 10:45 am
  19. Michael wrote:

    Cargo bikes got a mention in the WSJ.

    Cargo Bikes: The New Station Wagon
    Cargo bikes are winning over casual and avid cyclists alike with one supersize feature: the ability to haul it all—from the groceries to the family that eats them
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324328204578572011343756542?mg=reno64-wsj.html%3Fdsk%3Dy

    Posted 06 Jul 2013 at 9:17 pm