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Left Hand Driving; Use the Center Lane for Bikes

 
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 6:37 pm    Post subject: Left Hand Driving; Use the Center Lane for Bikes Reply with quote

Some comments of mine regarding the Kent (WA-USA) Master Plan for roadway improvement over the next 30 years:

Quote:
Having attended last week's open house on the master plan, let me say that I am impressed by the presentation to the public and the size scope and commitment to the project. Although I am a member of the Kent Bicycle Advisory Board (KBAB), my comments here are my own, personal ones.

While I see that much attention (and funding) is focused on non-motorized traffic and thought given to parks corridors such as via Canyon Drive and Earthworks, I would like to see more thinking towards the separation of bicycle and motorized traffic. My own commute is at opposite poles of bike-only (Interurban Trail) and intense bike-car interaction (Downtown Kent). I would prefer more of the former!

To wit, I think we should consider a bike and pedestrian only trail that cuts down Kent East Hill somewhere between James and 212th. There is no need for an entire street, just a lane wide enough for non-motorized transit that gets the bikes, people and cars away from each other. Another location would be building out a regular street -- with lower traffic volumes -- down 248th further down into Kent, thus avoiding the brutal traffic of Canyon Drive. As much as possible these routes should be somewhat serpentine -- so that the full brunt of the incline is not felt by walkers and riders.

Another suggestion which I have floated by KBAB is the use of center turning lanes for non-motorized traffic. These lanes are "wasted space" in my opinion. They are mostly unused except for turns. These turns could be accommodated simply with a few U-turn cuts and don't need a whole lane. Therefore, let's convert these wasted lanes into center bicycle lanes, with curb barriers to cars. We would then have a Bicycle Corridor that stretches from Covington, down Kent-Kangley, onto 108th down to Renton. The center lane could fork off to James to downtown. Center lanes are safer than side lanes, because drivers are on the left hand side, and can see bicyclists better that way.
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brian-hansen
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This reminds me of something I saw on a highway while driving
near Mount hood recently. The center lane was divided up into
2 bicycle left-turn lanes, one going each direction.

It makes sense that a difficult thing to do when on a bicycle
is to make a left hand turn. You might be holding up impatient
traffic, or worse, a car approaches from behind, not seeing you
waiting for the chance to turn left. [Speaking of left turns, I
understand that UPS has advised drivers to avoid them.]

Your idea (meme: "Center Lane for Bikes [CLB]"), starts me thinking
about different possible elements of design:

Height of barrier. Originally I imagined high highway-style barriers,
but well-painted or different color curb-height barriers, or even
low (6-9inch) "dots" placed every 5 feet, would be fine.

Sharing the bike lane. Cutting off all left turns for a road is
frustrating for motorists, and can contribute to congestion.
Is there a way for bicyclists and drivers to share the center
lane periodically, at popular left turn locations? This comes
at some cost to bicyclists in terms of speed and safety.
Perhaps careful "striping" showing the driver to yield to
bicycles in this area, plus signage ("left turn yield to bikes")
would help. We would need a new conception for these lanes.
Currently, many motorists view bicycles as "guests" who are
somewhat demanding, on lanes that are "owned" by cars.
We would need to get across the idea that cars are the guests
on these roads that are owned by bikes, in order for this kind
of sharing to work.
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Height of barrier


Yes, I thought of that, or something that was alike a complete raised "island" like a sidewalk in the middle that had a bike lane...although then their would be a lot of up and down on the cuts. So, probably your conception of a simple low concrete curb height barrier.

Quote:
Cutting off all left turns for a road is frustrating for motorists


Yes, and no...I think that there are many instances where it can be dangerous or just force more "locking" to have a turning lane -- classic case, two cars headed towards each other into the lane at a similar point. Or just the case of the cars being able to slow down at each and every point of travel to enter the turning lane, backs up traffic. Having a single left/U-turn cut midway in the street is what I was thinking....there would be a little bit of loop-de-loop where you would pass your intended destination, turn around and go back.

Quote:
Perhaps careful "striping" showing the driver to yield to
bicycles in this area...


The current concept is called "sharerows" which has its own special lane symbol (I just saw it in use on Stone Way in Seattle).

Quote:
Bikes as guests


This argument came up at the last KBAB (Kent Bicycle Advisory Board) meeting...bikes don't pay taxes, say motorists, why should we share?

My answer: by driving you impose a cost on society to every other person. Pollution, congestion and so on. Bikes do not impost that cost, and hence "get a buy".

Another argument is: if I cross a drawbridge and a big luxury yacht comes by, and toots its horn, hundreds of motorists have to stop...because of historic right of way.

But haven't humans, and bikes had a right of way before cars.

I have argued (till I'm blue in the face) that all crossing walk signals should be immediate for pedestrians, for the same reason a single yacht can stop 10,000 commuters in their tracks.
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brian-hansen
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jabailo wrote:

Quote:
Cutting off all left turns for a road is frustrating for motorists


Yes, and no...I think that there are many instances where it can be dangerous or just force more "locking" to have a turning lane -- classic case, two cars headed towards each other into the lane at a similar point. Or just the case of the cars being able to slow down at each and every point of travel to enter the turning lane, backs up traffic. Having a single left/U-turn cut midway in the street is what I was thinking....there would be a little bit of loop-de-loop where you would pass your intended destination, turn around and go back.


There's slowing down traffic, and there's stopping it. To make a left
turn when there is no left turn lane requires the driver to stop and wait.

U-turns have their own hazards.

Since we would have a barrier on each side, removing the barrier
on one side to allow entry into the bike lane/left turn lane would
reduce the problem of cars from different directions sharing the
common turn lane.

Still, I think we're both thinking along the same lines. It seems to
me that in most cases eliminating left turns and instituting U-turns
will be unpalatable to local drivers, and that if bikes are to own the
center lane, we'll need to find a safe and effective way for them to
periodically share that lane with left hand turning motorists.

This discussion suggests a continuum for drivers between
being able to turn left anywhere and not being able to turn left
at all.
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like Minneapolis is already trying centerlaning for bikes:

http://www.bikexprt.com/bikepol/minneapolis/hennepin.htm

Quote:
Marquette Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota is one-way northbound for general traffic, with a contraflow bus lane and contraflow bike lane southbound. As shown in the photo below, the bike lane is in the center of the roadway, to the left of the bus lane.
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