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Narrow Bike Lane | by joshua_putnam
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Narrow Bike Lane

AASHTO standards say that on extremely-constrained, low-traffic streets where there's no way to fit in a minimum 5-foot bike lane, if there is no gutter, it is minimally acceptable to put in a 4-foot bike lane.

 

MUTCD's standard bike lane marking is 40 inches wide, but SDOT uses substandard 36 inch markings. Does it look to you like there's a foot of clearance beside that bike lane marking?

 

Yet this is a busy street, and the travel lanes are clearly wide enough that there is room to put in at least a legal-width bike lane.

 

Frighteningly-substandard facilities like these contribute greatly to fear of cycling on streets with traffic. Riding in this bike lane means a continuous stream of too-close passing by drivers in the next lane. Drivers who would never squeeze past a bicycle in the same lane with only a foot of clearance see the bike lane stripe as a dividing line... if they stay in their lane, they don't have to worry about you bicycling in your lane. Studies have shown that bike lanes significantly reduce avoidance maneuvers by motorists -- not good news for cyclist safety.

 

Fortunately, in Washington State, bicycle lanes are optional for people on bikes, so a rider who understands safety and the law recognizes that the appropriate place to ride on this street is in the travel lane, not the substandard bike lane.

 

Unfortunately, that leaves the most vulnerable people on bikes, the less-experienced riders, riding in one of the most dangerous parts of the street, subject to unsafe passing, right-hooks at intersections and driveways, and motorists pulling out of driveways.

 

It's not surprising that cities with miles of substandard bike lanes face growing demand for segregated bike paths from people convinced that on-street bike lanes are inherently hazardous.

 

Taken with a Swann Freestyle HD video camera on a Minoura Handlebar Camera Mount.

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Taken on June 4, 2013