Bike lane disgrace, why do we use them when they are substandard
"Get in yer bike lane buddy"
We have all heard the cries from behind the wheel as some bloke feels the need to remind you that in his opinion you don't belong on his road.
Well, that is a topic for another ramble, bike lanes are todays focus.
We know what they are, from the strip of paint 20cms from the edge of the gutter, the lane with an occasional bike symbol in it, the green paint (ironically made with glass), the ridge or ripple strip up to the favoured Copenhagen style bike lanes with no cars to the left of you.
I like green paint, no, I love green paint. Funny cause I don’t really like anything else green. Green paint gives the rider an illusion of being safe in a section of road set aside just for them. It's great to teach new commuters in these lanes, if you say to a new rider that no cars will attack them in their little slice of road, they actually believe you.
We have lots of Green Paint in Melbourne. It's the new favoured road colour by some of the most progressive councils in Australia so you are probably thinking what's the twist. The twist is that these lanes have and others are the dream of the motoring community to keep us off the road. They were invented to separate riders and trick us into thinking they are there to legitimise our right to be there. But the reality is they do the opposite. If you venture out of your bike lane, you risk abuse, flying objects or worse; a physical attack of a two tonne object hurtling towards you at 60km/h.
The reality is we are given this slither of road because no one else wants it. It is next to car doors, gutters, potholes, service access points, road shrapnel, glass missed by the road sweeper and ninjas (people that duck out in front of you from behind vehicles that you don’t see until you almost hit them).
Then there is the Houdini of bike lanes, the ones that magically end only to repair 20 metres away on the other side of the intersection.
And when you go to avoid all these obstacles, you may end up under a wheel!
Why do some advocacies push so hard for Green Paint? Because it is cheap, it is a quick solution to a problem that years of bad planning can start to reverse. It is not the answer, but it is a move to the solution. The solution has many parts, which I am not going to get into here yet, that include every measure we can use. Hey, I even found these guys and this stuff looks cool: http://road.cc/content/news/68903-bikway-shortcut-city-bike-lanes
Separation sounds good, on paper, but it has to be done properly - road engineers have a problem with doing these properly. Copenhagen Lanes in Denmark do not have gaps in them for driveways, they don’t disappear at intersections, they don’t have pedestrians wondering in them aimlessly, yet we get so excited when we hear they are coming to our cities. My feeling on these, they are the most dangerous form of infrastructure. They take away all legitimacy we have for being on the road, and they are always installed in a uniquely Australia fashion that allow too many contact points. Sadly they are never cleaned properly either, they are just rubbish magnets.
So, what do you think are the answers to our bike lanes situation, is it a case of mix and match? Should we go for separation? Or suck it up and get on the road?
Above is a little collection of images I have taken, the dirty nappy stunk so be grateful no one has invented smell-o-vision for PCs yet.