It might seem like a surprise but members of the Montgomery Bicycle Advocates (MoBike) attended a public meeting about placing bike lanes on Norfolk Avenue in Bethesda to protest the bike lanes as unsafe. It's not that they were against bike lanes, just those bike lanes. What's wrong with them? If you read the title of this post you know that the problem is that the bike lanes are in the "door zone."
The "Door Zone" is the 4 feet along the side of a parked car where an opening door can hit and seriously injure a cyclist.
There is no doubt that biking in the door zone is unsafe and even deadly. Placing bike lanes in the door zone, as is done all over the area and aggressively in DC, seems to be inherently unsafe. AASHTO guidelines call for at least 8' for parking and 5' for the bike lane, but according to a UNC study there needs to be at least 14' from the curb to make it safe - which is what MoBike was asking for. I've seen bike lanes in Ireland that leave a marked gap of 3' for the door zone but never here.
Normally, I'd rather ride in a bike lane than not (and even better a bike path), since I feel it better protects me from traffic, but does it create a false sense of security with regards to being doored? Are you safer in a bike lane that's in the door zone - aka a "suicide lane" - then mixing it up in traffic? Comments are open.