Why Protected Bike Lanes Are Best

A few days ago, I rode up to the Bonneville Shoreline trailhead in southeast Provo and took the pictures in yesterday’s post. While I was riding, the car in front of me began encroaching on the bike lane:

A car cuts into a bike lane in southeast Provo.

Luckily, I was riding in the shoulder as this happened. There was also so little traffic that it wasn’t really a big deal. I might have done the same thing if I had been driving.

But there’s a much bigger issue here than one car drifting out of its lane: why was this road designed this way in the first place?

From a biking perspective, this makes little sense. The car lane and the bike lane are crammed together in the middle of a wide street with no buffer in between, while a huge shoulder goes unused. It’s unsafe and unnecessary.

Parking is permitted along this street — or at least, there were no signs prohibiting it — so the obvious solution would have been to put the parking to the left of the bike lane. That approach would have placed a large protective space between bikes and cars, as well as a physical barrier if anyone ever actually parked here.

Instead, however, this nonsensical shoulder becomes a de facto bike lane, the actual bike lane becomes a buffer, and when anyone parks here cyclists will be left navigating an obstacle course of opening doors and drifting cars.

At very least, this bike lane could have used a small buffer zone — even one six inches to a foot wide — like those I recently saw in Barcelona. With this much space, there’s no reason to not have a buffer.



Filed under biking

2 responses to “Why Protected Bike Lanes Are Best

  1. Bad design all around. So far I would have to say the Dutch have it as close to ideal as possible. I guess when you have limited space to work with you are forced to be more creative. Also, never trust someone who doesn’t walk or bike to plan for other alternatives to driving. This just screams, “hey we have some extra space, let’s stripe it and say we have bike lanes…”

  2. Pingback: Provo Ranks 3rd Best for Biking in Utah | (pro(vo)cation)

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