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What they are proposing is not a bike lane but a bike path. A bike lane is part of the roadway, the traveled portion of the road; i.e., it's another lane. If you put it between the curb and parking it's not part of the roadway, and it's a bike path. This is an important distinction, because while 5' is an acceptable minimum width for a bike lane, 10' is considered the minimum for a bike path. Neither a bike lane nor a bike path should be right up against parked cars. A bike lane should start a minimum of 8' from the curb of the parking lane, so that the bike lane is out of the "door zone" of the parked cars. A bike path should have at least 2' of buffer on either side.

This is the most clueless kind of cycling facility. It's cobbled together (designed is too kind a word) by someone who has no inkling of the kind of space that cyclists need. It's too narrow and in the door zone. It channels cyclists into a pattern that is completely at odds with the normal flow of traffic, where operators of other vehicles are not expecting them. It's a recipe for dooring.

Building a full counter flow bike lane for cyclists that is not in the door zone or immediately next to oncoming traffic is not politically practical on this street - the street would need to be widdened which would take out the trees on the tree lawn. I know "dooring" is a real issue, but this street has residential parking only and the parking activity is minimal compared to what one sees in commercial zones. The risk of being doored in a counterflow bike lane in one block would be small compared to the risk cyclists now take by riding against traffic in the main traffic lane as now configured by DPWT.

If we must accept a substandard facility for this one block, then another option would be to widden the west side sidewalk to become an approx. 6' wide path. We cannot fit a 10' bike path into that space without taking out the trees. But a 6' wide path would fit with minimal impact. Local pedestrian activity here is very light, and southbound cyclists would be channeled onto the bike path while northbound cyclists could continue to be directed to use the street, riding with the direction of traffic as they do now. Under those conditions of light pedestrian activity and cycling in only one direction a 6' wide path could work reasonably well for this block.

I would like a facility built here that complies fully with design guidelines like AASHTO. But the AASHTO guidelines acknowledge that in some circumstances a substandard facility must be accepted for short distances to provide connectivity - as better than no facility at all.

Wayne P

I would like to take a time out to commend WashCycle for the excellent pairing of "Homeowners complained that they were inconvenienced by having to walk across the bike lane to reach cars parked in front of their property" with a link to a website about the movie "Crybaby." Genious!

I guess where I differ is with the sentiment that a sub-standard facility is better than none at all. I think this is a clear case where the sub-standard facility is worse than nothing. The "nothing" option leaves the existing sidewalk available to cyclists, which is better than a wrong-way bike lane, in my opinion. And it's just my opinion, one thing I've learned when it comes to discussing facilities is that all we really have to go on is opinions.

There is an advocacy layer to this conversation. This discussion highlights a common problem with cycling in general and facilities in particular, which is that people who are not cyclists dramatically underestimate how much space a cyclist needs. You see it when motorists pass too close, or get upset at a cyclist for taking "too much" of the lane, and you see it when planners propose facilities that are ridiculously undersized. While it is somewhat understandable in uneducated motorists, it is inexcusable in professional planners.

I almost hate to go back to these photos, but I will.


Now, that's in Montreal and over all what I hear is good things about them.

I agree that 10 feet is the right width for a bi-directional trail, but this will be uni-directional, in which case 5' (doing my math here) is very close to half of 10'. If you're riding four feet from the parked cars (which is farther than I ride most of the time), and looking at them while they're looking at you, I think your chances of a door prize go down to normal levels.

Here is a less favorable analysis of the Montreal system from John Allen:


Also, a look at the much-touted Berlin system of sidepaths:

I'm also a big fan of John Allen's work. I recognize that there are diverse opinions on the best way to promote cycling and advance the interests of cyclists. But if anyone can look at the photos on his page, with its intelligent criticism, and still think two-way sidepaths or bike lanes are a good idea, then that person and I are different planets.

Those criticisms of cycle paths are limited to the following subjects: conflicts between bikes and right turning cars (not an issue in this case), issues with odd designed half-sidewalk half shoulder lanes (not an issue), biking into headlights - an issue here, but a small one, left turns for wrong way cyclists (not an issue for those following the bike route shown), signs too small for French and English (not an issue), and lanes on bus stops (not an issue). Nowhere does he say that 5' is too narrow for a uni-directional cycle path on one block. My knowledge of Montreal is totally empirical so I won't defend their lanes.

I've come around to seeing the problems with cycle paths at intersections. I don't think they're insurmountable, but they must be addressed. This, however, is a totally unique case.

Here is some more on the argument.


Sorry... just to be clear, I was not trying to argue against contra-flow bike lanes (for short sections), just against the Montreal sidepath system.

I think contra-flow bike lanes CAN work, with proper implmentation. In fact, allowing bikes to make connections on short streets that cars aren't allowed to use (for whatever reason) can be a great way to promote cycling and improve connectivity for cyclists. Arlington has some streets (Key Boulevard is one) that they prevent cars from entering from certain directions during rush hour, but bikes are allowed at all times.

But again... the key is the implementation. Montreal's system can't be implemented safely or effectively.

Should have said "A Montreal-type system can't be implemented safely or effectively." Of course they have implemented a system, it's just neither safe nor effective, by all accounts that I trust.

why does your link that says complained go to the IMBD?

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