Commuting, Safe Streets, Complete Streets, Bicycle Lanes

I'm registered for next Saturday's New Jersey Bicycle Summit. The theme is "Complete Streets", and will include both presentations and workshops. Attendees include engineers, transportation planners, government planners, cycling (and pedestrian) advocates, cycling clubs, and just-plain-interested-cyclists.

I'm aware of a number of key issues (lane width/shared-use lanes, aggressive motorists, poor road maintenance, narrow cycle lanes, cycle lanes in door zones, encroachment of cycle lanes by other traffic and parking, cyclists who are unfamiliar with cycling laws -- usually immigrants delivering take-out or kids practicing stunts, varying speeds/needs of cyclists, non-existent or unsafe shoulders, safety of parked/locked bicycles, etc.) but would be interested in knowing if there are others I missed, or which might directly affect you.

Also -- for those of you who avoid bicycle lanes when they are available and along the route for your workout/commute/errands/training, what are your reasons for avoiding them?

Often times while traveling down bike paths, some vehicles come visit me. When faced with roadkill, broken-glass litter, gravel, road grates, and uneven pavement, I often times will observe my right to the vehicular travel lane instead.

not sure if this is helpful; Colorado passed a state law requiring a 3’ separation between cyclists and motorists. Motorists can be fined something…$300.00 max I think.

My personal method, no commuting involved, is to ride well to the right, but avoid the gravelly edge. Usually taking and holding my position in the “track” or the right wheel groove in the pavement on smaller roads and streets. I live in a cycling friendly area, or so I think.

It’s also interesting to contrast our country to many others where the bicycle is widely used as a utilitarian vehicle. I think it speaks to some futility of bike lanes. I’m not savvy enough to say, but does Europe have many bike lanes? They darn sure have the bikes.

From what I’ve been reading, it depends on the country. I read of many issues in UK where motorists are particularly aggressive against cyclists, and cycle lanes – where they exist – are narrow enough to fit only a very slim cyclist on an aerobar-only bike. I also read of “complete streets” in the Netherlands with separated pedestrian, bicycle, and motorist lanes, where bakfiet (cargo-bike) riders can ride two-abreast and converse while toting their kids to preschool, and where in bicycle-motorist accidents the motorist is legally always at fault.

New Jersey’s info on “complete street” design is pretty… basic. It suggests that where there are no sidewalks, that paved shoulders be provided large enough to accommodate pedestrians or cyclists, or (where there are sidewalks), that the right lane be wide enough to accommodate a motorist and a cyclist side-by-side.

In my neighborhood I have streets with sidewalks and on-street parking, streets without sidewalks but with paved shoulders, and streets where paved shoulders are used for on-street parking. The local-level streets with on-street parking are narrow enough that many vehicles cross the double-yellow line even without a cyclist “in the way” to avoid the door zones of on-street parked cars. The county-level streets have marked lanes and on-street parking; the right lanes are not wide enough to accommodate cars and cyclists side-by-side. Where there are open parking spots, I often find myself having to ride through the empty parking spots. On local streets with paved shoulders, the shoulders are used by pedestrians, and by cyclists who either are unaware of cycling laws or who deliberately disregard them, so it is sometimes difficult to use them as “legal” cycle lanes. And like miketosh says, a lot of the shoulder/extreme-right-lane areas are rife with gravel, broken glass, litter, and roadkill.

There has been a “three foot” proposal in the works for some time now.