Doesn't this narrow sliver of a bike lane look safe?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason painted lanes are a risk for cyclists is because they way they are situated encourages riding to the outer edge of the road - a behaviour which is know for its dangers and which is deprecated for exactly that reason. There’s a distinct pattern of cycling deaths in London disproportionately affecting nervous woman cyclists, because they fear getting in any motor vehicle’s way and ride to the extreme left of the lane, often having to swerve right to avoid parked cars. Riding this way increases the risk that you swerve into a car’s path and it certainly encourages drivers to drive as if you aren’t there. The other consequence of this is increased risk of the infamous and deadly ‘left hook’ where a driver speeds obliviously past a cyclist and then turns left at a junction without checking properly, running the cyclist down.

Cycle lanes almost always run down the extreme left of the lane, too, and usually contain parking so that you are regularly forced out of the lane anyway, so it enforces this higher-risk riding style and encourages drivers to think that you have no business using any other part of the road, which encourages aggressive or punitive driving. It also again renders cyclists less noticeable to drivers with car-based tunnel-vision, and tends to spit cyclists out into junctions and amongst cars who are turning without being aware of other road users. I think segregated lanes - either by kerbs or plastic bollards - are actually worse on those last two points, they even more clearly demarcate the parts of the roadway that drivers can feel happy ignoring, and tend to complicate navigating junctions.


that make sense to me – the narrower the car lanes look, the slower people go. so when you add a divided bike lane, you’ve shrunk the lanes, and everyone slows down. ( who wants to be driving at 50mph when the traffic coming head on has zero clearance? )

and the slower traffic makes biking seem more reasonable from the travel time perspective.

that’s one of the things going against those la roads – they’re super-wide, and multi-lane. they all look like highways, so people are going to treat them as such.


I’m sorry that happened to you, that’s deeply crap.

I’ve not heard of curbing speeding as a reason to build cycle lanes, not here in the UK anyway. One UK council did say a few years ag that they wanted to encourage cycling on their roads because it would slow drivers down. Reaction from the cycling advocacy community was basically “Fuck off, we’re not mobile speed bumps.”

As for multi-use areas, mixing motor vehicles and people on foot or on bikes simply doesn’t work. Drivers have all the mass, power and danger. Even in the Netherlands, where to a first approximation everyone rides bike some of the time, areas where motor vehicles and us squishy fleshbags mix have just as high a rate of death and serious injury as, say, the UK’s roads.


there are many countries where cars and bikes get along way better that in the US just because of the general aggressive clawing for entitlement and presumption of primacy of car users.

And the SUVs. In fact, mostly the SUVs. The increase in pedestrian and cyclist deaths and serious injuries in the USA over the last few years is almost entirely down to the car industry selling people stupidly oversized vehicles with abysmal ability to see anything smaller than a Sherman tank in front of the grill.


I’ve wondered about that - there’s one just down the road from me. I just figured it was some art installation.


to add to my “door paranoia” comment, here is another common sense thing that ought to be part of universal driver’s ed:


Yeah those painted white bikes are usually where a cyclist died.

There’s one really near me, a street crossing on a bike path I do regularly. Old dude who rode his bike there every day got killed. 30mph street, perfect visibility, striped crosswalk, broad daylight.


Where I currently live (in the states) it’s actually not expressly illegal to ride on the sidewalk except in a small section of downtown that always has a large amount of foot traffic. Everywhere else you just go slow and give pedestrians the right of way. There’s the occasional asshole but if an actually well designed bike lane exists most are riding in those instead.


Helmet wearing also increases risk by also encouraging drivers to pass too closely. Drivers appear to subconsciously think the helmet provides a bubble of protection.
Helmet wearing is important for protecting the brain in falls but they’re not made to protect against cars.

Bicycle safety “advocacy” in the states has focused on guilting the cyclist into doing things to stay safe that often don’t even work. Someone not even looking to the right isn’t going to see you regardless of if you’re cosplaying as a human traffic cone

Meanwhile pedestrian and cyclist deaths have significantly increased because paint isn’t infrastructure and offers zero actual protection.

The fact that almost 80% of new auto sales are legally not even cars anymore but light trucks doesn’t help matters any.
When cars hit a pedestrian or cyclist they tend to go over the top. When light trucks hit a pedestrian or cyclist they tend to go under. They’re also significantly wider which means they pass closer than cars.

What people on bicycles need to stay safe are actual protected bike lanes. Something that doesn’t yield when struck by an auto.
Large curbs, metal guardrails, rigid bollards, cement planters, water filled impact attenuators, sand filled fitch barriers, etc.
Not plastic flexi strips, aka vertical paint.
Everything else is no better and sometimes even worse (don’t get me started on sharrows), than actually doing nothing.

And aside from a link I haven’t even touched on the need for protected intersections yet.


Thank you for that, I’ve seen one and didn’t know the symbolism.


oh, I ride on sidewalks all the time, I was just responding to what geoduck wrote.

Yeah exactly this. I used to be in favor of bike lanes everywhere. I’ve since amended that to separate bike infrastructure - either parallel to roadways or not. Austin is developing (slowly) a network of pedi-cycle trails that interconnect all over austin and that are entirely separate from roads. They are fun to ride, they get people who would NEVER ride in a bike lane to ride, and they are getting more and more useful as they get interconnected.

In the next decade I expect to be able to get from where I am (the NE suburbs) to downtown, or the Domain, or a few other common places, without setting foot on a road outside of my immediate neighborhood. This is the way.

In the meantime there are frustrating deficiencies. I live 1/2 mile from my local grocery store but it is actually surprisingly hard to get to by walking or on a bike. It’s very frustrating because a local hike and bike trail goes right past it but you have to exit the bike trail and cross a street 3 times to get there. No normal person would choose this if they had a car.

I live in a medium sized city that’s a suburb of Austin. There are a handful of businesses “down town” that I think people would walk or bike to if it wasn’t super inconvenient - bars/pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, the grocery store. I walk or bike to these but I recognize that I’m a deviant who’s willing to put up with hopping the odd barrier or climbing an embankment to make it work.

I actually really liked walking to the local coffee place/bar that had music or poetry or quizzes on fridays, having a few beers and not caring how many and then walking home. It’s a simple pleasure that I wish everyone could have (the place in question suspended most of that during covid and no longer is open past 4pm)


I might even go so far as to say it’s disappointing.

And on-topic, as a bicyclist:

No No No GIF


I’ve seen in NYC there are places where they moved the bike lane to a space between the parked cars and the curb. I suppose there still a tiny risk of someone opening the car for into the a bike but that seems a lot better than having a narrow bike lane right next to the traffic.


Here in the UK the government decided the country should have so many miles of bicycle lanes. Did they provide funding for it? The hell they did. The result is that we have roads with twenty feet of bicycle lanes that start and end abruptly. One of the worst is where I used to live, in Buckinghamshire. The road is a main drag, about three miles long between two villages. Cars typically travel at fifty and sixty miles per hour. There is an adequate bicycle lane for about two miles, which stops abruptly at the top of a short rise where the road narrows and there is no visibility. It’s a death trap.
By contrast, in Newcastle, the Great North Road has a nice bicycle lane with bollards, and the motorists have been swearing at it since its inception, as it cut the road down from three lanes to two. The lastest edition of the UK Highway Code (rules for driving) contains the instruction that drivers must show respect for other road-users. Whether they are in vehicles, on bikes, on horses, or on foot. May I live to see that day!


Helmet wearing also increases risk by also encouraging drivers to pass too closely.

It’s not like the protection afforded by a helmet is significant anyway. Here’s Jim Moss, a member of the ASTM committee for helmet standards:

I should clarify my statement. The current helmet standards are not designed to prevent concussions, only minor scalp wounds. There are 3 mfg who say their design helps prevent concussions, MIPs, Kalit & @6DHelmets. Only @6DHelmets has had independent testing

— Jim Moss (@RecreationLaw) October 23, 2018

So, no helmet wearing isn’t important for protecting the brain in falls; helmets are good for
bouncing low branches off your head when mountain biking and, er, that’s about it.

Someone not even looking … isn’t going to see you

This. The majority of driver/bicycle rider collisions are the driver’s sole fault, and the majority of those are ‘failed to look’ collisions. The only way to mitigate this is with infrastructure that separates drivers and bicycle riders.

light trucks … are also significantly wider which means they pass closer than cars.

And heavier, so there’s more kinetic energy that has to go somewhere in a collision. Electric cars are just making that problem worse of course.


Well, the general ASTM standard isn’t for concussions.
It’s not as simple as buying a helmet and since it’s been approved for sale you’re protected.
But private standards and technologies like MIPS are indeed designed to prevent them. How much they help I don’t know.
Virginia tech rates helmets based on how much impact shock they’ve reduced with the express goal of rating which models are most likely to reduce concussive trauma and the first year of testing only four earned five star ratings. Now those numbers are a lot higher with roughly half getting 5 stars, all except one, an inflatable helmet design, having MIPS.

Whether they actually reduce injuries, increase injuries, or keep them roughly the same, out in the real world where both closer overtaking by autos and risk compensation (wearer feels more protected and therefore takes more risks) factors into overall safety, I also don’t know.

One thing I definitely agree on is that helmets are not a substitute for good infrastructure as is the narrative in the states. They can add an extra layer of safety for those who want it if and only if they’re first protected from cars.
Otherwise it becomes victim blaming.
Because even the best helmet does little if a light truck literally runs you over.

Where it gets funky is that a 5 star rated helmet can help people who ride fast and agressively if they misjudge and fall… but for bicycle commuters, riding fast and agressively is usually a self defense tactic to prevent them from getting hit by inattentive turners, obstacles in the bike lane, careless door openers, etc.
Which means that many to most of those people if they had protected cycleways and intersections would not even ride agressively in the first place.


I remember this being stressed when I took driver’s ed (way back in the dark ages). That was in Kansas in 1970; they really emphasized the limitations of side mirrors, and talked about shoulder checking as a critical part of the “situational awareness” component in driving.


Wait, hold on- at the risk of derailing the thread, are you saying bike helmets don’t make your safer? I’m not arguing, just honestly curious. I’m not a cyclist myself and know nothing about this. The NIH sure seems to think they help though?

Relevant pull quote:

Overall, helmets decrease the risk of head and brain injury by 65% to 88% and facial injury to the upper and mid face by 65%. Helmets are effective for cyclists of all ages and provide protection for all types of crashes whether or not a motor vehicle is involved.


I look at 7 and 8 and just sigh wistfully. Though I shouldn’t complain too much. As American cyclists go, I have it pretty good in the Twin Cities (but oh man 7 and 8… the dream).