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On bicycle highways(13 posts)

On bicycle highwaysBrian C.
Apr 25, 2001 6:49 AM
While on the 90-minute commuter bus ride this morning, a thought occured that it's a shame they didn't incorporate some kind of bike lane in one of the many highway improvements over the years. It's probably not very practical now.
But in this neck of the woods, plans are afoot to build a brand new highway to relieve congestion on the first. It's an opportunity to lobby for a commuter bike lane while they're at it.
Can anyone point me to books, studies, Web sites, experts or any other material that could help this campaign?
Are there any success stories (or cautionary tales) in North America or Europe?

It's 40 miles from here to there. I'd do it.
If 1,000 motorists did it, too, the world would be a better place.
re: On bicycle highwaysLazy
Apr 25, 2001 6:59 AM
While I have no idea where your neck of the woods is, nor ideas for sources to point you at, I wish you all the luck in the world. It's a really good idea.

I imagine you'll have a tough time convincing the beaurocrats that it's a good idea to spend the money for it. Good luck!!
It'll be a challengeBrian C.
Apr 25, 2001 7:42 AM
There's a Conservative government in charge in this neck of the woods, the Province of Ontario, Canada. But I think a lot of the veterans on this board are on the cutting edge of a better way to get around. There's just too many cars out there. Anything that can be done to provide alternatives, so much the better.
Bicycle safety related URLBreck
Apr 25, 2001 7:48 AM
I came across this item while doing some recent research on bicycle safety.
see >>> <<< hope you may find it useful.

My interest is more from a historical perspective than safety per se. We actually have so called bike lanes in this San Diego County back country town near the old training camp of the Poasties, Motorola, etc off Mussey Grade Rd. over in Ramona ~25 miles west of here. The Pro's and Euro's ride many abreast & outside the lanes with no helmets, etc. Us locals feel pretty safe during the week, but stay off the mountain curvy-twisty hwy.'s on the weekends with the tourist & their Bimmers, SUV's, etc's.

Ekimov(?) got hit with a Truck-Club off Palomar Mountain grade a few years back. Spied Lance (Motorola days) down near Descanso sans helmet & with the trade mark Oakleys a few years back. Montezuma Grade out of Borrego near here, is said to closely mimic Alp d'Huez in elevation gain and number of turns per Andy Hampsten ('88 USA Giro d'Italia winner from Colo., now living in Italy )

Back in 1970, my distance running bud Phil Carlon helped map out bike lanes for the city of Huntington Beach, Ca. The lanes were not useful to us runners as we hit the side walks facing traffic. However, Phil was also into long distance bike racing (100 miles in those days), and saw the need for bike safety and getting the masses off the couch --a noble goal then, as now.

Thanks for the Web site, WKBrian C.
Apr 25, 2001 12:52 PM
One of the intriquing things about this message board is reading about where people ride. It can make one a bit envious - I mean, you're talking about Palomar Mountain and Montezuma Grade and Huntington Beach, Calif. (When you rest there, do you lean your bike against a palm tree?)
The best I can offer is a scary, obstacle course among road-raging maniacs on Lakeshore Road between Toronto and Hamilton, Ont. Sometimes, though, the view out across Lake Ontario in late spring/early summer can be pleasing. And, come to think of it, the roads up and around the Niagara Escarpment are challenging and rewarding.
Ha! What am I complaining about? It's cycling. Doesn't matter where you do it.
Have a great day.
Always lots of conservative resistance (makes too much sense?)Cory
Apr 25, 2001 7:59 AM
That same controversy is going on right now on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, and in other places around California and northern Nevada. Always sounds like a good idea; the same people always pop up and say it's too much money to cater to a few "yuppie" (or ometimes "hippie") bicyclists, and it dies. Reno, where I live, took bike lanes OUT a few years ago because the city was afraid it created liability--the lanes implied safety, so if a cyclist got hit, he might sue the city. When I did a newspaper column urging people to try bike commuting for a week, I got threats: "Keep your ass on the sidewalk where it belongs or you'll get run over."
Might check the archives at one of the San Francisco newspapers ( is one) for past stories. Last I heard, the cyclicsts were slowly losing ground to the more-highways-for-more-cars crowd. There's a reason those people have a serious Critical Mass ride there.
Always lots of conservative resistance (makes too much sense?)G
Apr 25, 2001 8:43 AM
I have always believed that bike lanes on highways and byways actually make cycling more dangerous. These lanes take cyclists out of the natural sight lines of motorists and further add to the impression that bikes don't belong on the same road as motor vehicles. A simple solution and requires the same amount of pavement and effort from DOT is to widen the lanes by a foot or so each way. That way a vehicle can safely pass a bike without crossing the center line while still having to acknowlege the cyclist(ie. slow down and safely pass). This is just a theory, but based on sound principals. I have long been writing various officials, but I think the idea is too radical for the political mind. Good luck, and no matter what, keep riding.
Separate bike lanesKEN2
Apr 25, 2001 6:18 PM
The idea of separate bike lanes seems good....until you start thinking about motorists yielding the right of way and passing on the right etc. Think about this scenario: you are riding in a bike lane and traffic is stopped or moving more slowly than you are in the regular lane. A motorist decides to turn right into a driveway. Instead they turn right into you. Who is at fault? There is no other situation where cars must yield to their right side. What's more, no matter if you were correct or not you're injured or dead.

Separate lanes present a quagmire of thorny issues and are a solution in search of a problem. A much more sound idea is simply widening the roads to 15-16 foot outside lanes and possibly lowering the speed limits.

If you want to learn more see
They also sponsor an email discussion group. Or see the website of the vehicular cycling guru, John Forester, author of "Effective Cycling at

There's been a lot of thought and solid research on this topic...don't try and re-invent the wheel!
Separate bike lanesG
Apr 26, 2001 5:45 AM
You are preaching to the choir. Did you actually read my post? Thanks for the links though.
im all for it but folks complain they look ruffled when they getishmael
Apr 25, 2001 8:02 AM
to work..i remember lots of people who wanted to ride even a mile to work but were to concerned that they would be a mess when they got there...maybe rightfull concerned, people dont employ those with scruffy hair..i always said they could straighten up a bit when they got there but it supposedly wasnt enough they, you probably wont be able to get much support from those who even want to ride to work....its a deeply ingrained car culture, either its going to be a very slow change to bikes or we'll get lucky and become disenchanted with the mideast and finally look into alternative energy...those electric cars are nice to ride with..and have you ever heard of the water powered car, it out there...prototypes in fancy places like switzerland...i would be happy enough if these things went into mass production..ramble
Example in ColoradoPeetey
Apr 25, 2001 8:46 AM
There has been a lot of interest in adding a separate bike lane (approximately 15' wide) when the Boulder-Denver Turnpike is expanded. There has been large commercial development in Broomfield (about 15 miles SE of Boulder; near the famed Morgul-Bismark road race course) where Sun Microsystems, Level 3 Communications, and several other firms have settled.

The request for the bike lane has come from employees who commute from Boulder to the office park. When proposed to the governing bodies (State Dept of Transportation, Regional Transportation, District, etc) most of the objections were from a cost/benefit angle. The thinking being that the lane will go relatively unused during the colder months when people won't want to ride.

Not sure if your situation is similar (i.e., seasonal use) but the cost per mile and cost per user might be a tough nut to crack.
Hope it works out for youBrian C.
Apr 25, 2001 11:24 AM
What you describe is what I had in mind. Thanks.
Others have mentioned in posts above that the cost has proved a problem. I can see that if you're trying to build a bike lane into an old, established highway. For example, on the Queen Elizabeth Way, west of Toronto, it would be next to impossible because several existing bridges are already at capacity with motor traffic.
But if you're starting from scratch or doing a major overhaul, why can't you include a lane, say, between the highway shoulder and the service road, segregated by New Jersey barriers?
It could be just one standard lane wide and on just one side of the highway. They could use it in emergencies. And in winters they could pile snow on it.
I dunno, maybe I'm an idealist.
Thanks for your insights.
Another Idea: BikeTopiaSimpleGreen
Apr 25, 2001 8:22 PM
In larger cities, I think cars and cyclists should be segregated as much as possible. Bike lanes or not, there are lot of really bad drivers out there. It's freaky sometimes!

One idea would be to make less travelled roads very bike friendly or even have bike paths that are not connected to roads altogether. This is of course impossible in many places, but newer developments might want to make various arteries that get people some distance out of harms way.

In places like LA, it's totally ridiculous. The best weather in the country and the worst for commuting by bike. I mean what more do you need in terms of weather? It's a damn shame. The only solution I see there is to have some roads completely dedicated to cyclists. Anything short of that is just a death trap. Places like Orange County CA are newer and have lots of bike lanes on the sides of the road. SUV's abound, however.

Well, may be all the cyclists in the world need to move to a single city and build a BikeTopia! No diesel, no glass or rocks on the roads and lots and lots of roads just for cyclists.