On American Legion Highway, there are bike lanes and then there are bike lanes
It's cool that American Legion Highway is now all decked out with bike-lane markings. But driving from Roslindale to Dorchester yesterday, I spotted four different kinds of bike lanes:
The non-bike lane bike lane. Just a regular traffic lane with a weird icon consisting of a stylized bike with a chevron on top. Presumably these markers were to alert drivers to the fact that just past Walk Hill Road and the nature center, there'd be:
The Kramer New Jersey Turnpike bike lane. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer sponsors a mile on the highway and blacks out the lane markers to give drivers a roomier ride? For some reason, the bike lane suddenly developed elephantiasis and became wide enough to park a truck in.
The Flat Stanley bike lane. The jumbo lane quickly shriveled down to what you'd expect for a bike lane. And then it got progressively skinnier until it seemed like the only sort of biker that could possibly use it without his or her butt sticking into traffic was one who existed in just two dimensions.
Your basic bike lane. For brief sections, the bike lane seemed just like what you'd expect a bike lane to be.
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The "chevron and bike" markings are not to denote
that a separate bike path or lane is ahead. Rather, they are intended to remind both drivers and bicyclists to share the existing travel lane.
BTW, these markings have not yet been approved by FHWA as an acceptable traffic control device.
Do most people know this? Obviously, I'm clueless.
At least you know what a bike lane is
Unlike many drivers on Willow in Somerville, who think it is a narrow right turn lane entered 1/4 mile from the turn ... or many drivers in Cambridge who seem to think of it as 5-Minute Special Just-For-Them Masshole Parking or Personal and Special Masshole Turn Lane.
those drivers are just making room for the bicyclists going the wrong way on the one-way street.
While drivers should move
While drivers should move over to turn right closer to the intersection than 1/4 mile, it is safest for all (and also I believe legally required) to merge into the bike lane before making a right turn. Otherwise a car may make a right turn in front of a bicyclist going straight, causing a collision.
A properly marked bike lane will be
terminated prior to the intersection, thus giving right turning traffic an open space to move over. However, it is my understanding that right turns still have to yield to through bikes before starting the turn across the "extension" of the bike lane.
In this case, they put in a bike lane and all the drivers in the evening choose to ignore it. Most are going straight (the road goes from one way to two way at Highland Ave.), they are just too self-privileged and self-important to wait in the car travel lane, preferring to jam up the bike lane even though they have no hope of making the light anyway.
The road was too narrow for two lanes - there is supposed to be one car lane and one bike lane. The cars think there is one left turn or straight lane, one right turn or straight lane, and cyclists? What the fuck are those? That cartoon on the skinny lane? What's that?
This isn't "moving over carefully" to make a right, and anybody who knows the road knows that. This is lazy and self-important camping out where they don't belong.
Driving in this area
I think some of the offenses are not specific to driver consideration for bicyclists. Witness how often people block the box on non-signaled intersections here.
Some rush hour I'm going to stand near the corner with an orange vest and clipboard, and go interview everyone who gets stuck blocking. Elicit the thinking that led up to it. I have a pretty good hypothesis that I'd like to test.
That would definitely be a
That would definitely be a better way of handling the intersection. When I get to an intersection on a bike, if it's red or cars are stopped/slow moving, I move out of the bike lane to prevent these types of issues. The most disturbing lane treatments are those that place a straight bike lane to the right of a right turning lane.
BTW, a straight bike lane placed to the right of a
right turning lane is not an acceptable design, per current design standards.
Once more, with feeling here ...
Explaining this one more time for Roadman Hruska ...
There is no "right turn" lane at all here. There is a single lane for motor vehicles. Period. There is a single lane for cyclists - except the lovely massholes and NHoles think it is their snowflake express lane. The bike lane terminates and phases properly at the intersection with Highland Ave., right where the "no parking" zone starts, but the problems start way before that.
The drivers of cars are OBSTRUCTING and WEAVING into and BLOCKING the bike lane for THE ENTIRE LENGTH of Willow Street from Elm to Highland, squeezing between the car lane and parking lane and accellerating and honking at bikes they think are in "their way", or making a very long line of poorly-piloted metal that blocks the entire lane for a long stretch. Where they can no longer fit, for all the reasons a bike lane was put there, they force in for a little bit. Meanwhile, the bike lane is useless.
The cars use the clearly marked bike lane as if it was their special and personal lane put there just for their super extra special purposes. They just can't be expected to stay in the car lane because that means waiting their turn in line (God forbid!!!). The drivers would rather bang mirrors with other cars, obstruct cyclists, harass cyclists, and behave as if they had some right to do this so they can then fight it out with cars who are also trying to go straight from the proper lane.
Anybody know who I can contact in Somerville to get some tickets written or other enforcement here?
Have you talked with Somerville traffic officials about this?
I will now
What was a minor irritation has multiplied over the winter, it seems. I think it is worse because the cars have violated the lane so much that they have destroyed a fair amount of the paint, and heaven forbid anybody pay any attention to things like markings and signs.
Not that the other markings don't make it clear that cars don't belong there.
My comment about improper bike lane design was directed
toward Alex's statement "The most disturbing lane treatments are those that place a straight bike lane to the right of a right turning lane", and not towards your comments about bad driver behavior on Willow Street.
Sorry if you misunderstood me.
And in this state it's now a ticketable offense to "cut off" a bicyclist by making the right turn in front of them OR by making a left turn from the opposite direction if a bicyclist is approaching the intersection. This is true whether there's a bike lane painted or not, by the way.
Probably not. As I mentioned, the marking is not yet
an approved standard traffic control device. However, I understand it is proposed for inclusion as a standard in the next Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which will likely be issued sometime in 2010.
But, as you point out, the markings will have no benefit to either drivers or bicylists until these groups are actually educated as to what they mean.
First I saw these markings
The first time I saw these markings was on the repaved Albany St that runs from Waverly to Main St in Cambridgeport. Waverly has a marked bike lane, then it turns to the chevrons and a biker symbol at the "twist" where the Albany St name picks up. It's also accompanied by a "Share the Road" road sign on the side of the road at the first symbol.
I read it as a way to help remind bikes to stay to the right and remind cars that there are going to be bikes riding with them in traffic (since the symbols are clearly "in lane" and not far enough right to avoid driving on them with their tires)...so in that way, I guess I got the point, yes.
Theyre called sharrows and are meant to show a bicyclist the safest place to ride and to remind cars that bikes are supposed to be on the road. In streets with parking, theyre meant to show where a bike should be to avoid being doored.
Theyre generally used in street too narrow for a full bike lane but with enough bike traffic too warrant reminders.
I shoulda read all the responses first. J covered what I said above already.. :)
It's not just "the safest place to ride"
In Massachusetts, cyclists are required by law to stay to the right of motorized traffic. If anyone has ever seen this enforced, I'd love to hear about it.
I have the same problem with "bike lanes" that are really just reminders that I do with the "no biking" symbols painted on a few wheelchair ramps; cyclists ignorant of traffic laws applying to them assume that sidewalks without the symbols are legal places for them to operate their non-motorized vehicles.
You are wrong on both accounts
MGL 89-2: "If it is not possible to overtake a bicycle or other vehicle at a safe distance in the same lane, the overtaking vehicle shall use all or part of an adjacent lane if it is safe to do so or wait for a safe opportunity to overtake."
Bicycles are NOT required to stay to the right of traffic or even in the right of the lane (unless actively being passed).
MGL 85-11B: "...and (3) bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety, unless otherwise directed by local ordinance. A person operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian."
Bikes ARE allowed to ride on sidewalks outside of official business districts unless signed otherwise or prohibited by local ordinance.
# All bicyclists must obey all traffic laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts including red lights, stop signs, and riding with traffic.
# All bicyclists should stay to the right of the roadway, except for left hand turns, or where bike lanes direct otherwise and must ride single file.
As you quote in your post, bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety. Additionally, in Cambridge anyway, they aren't to travel at speeds "greater than a normal walk," and are to yield the right of way to pedestrians. In my experience, at least 50% of cyclists interpret a sidewalk without a "no bike" symbol as "bicycles have the right of way to ride however and as fast as they find convenient, in either direction, as long as they yell 'on your right' prior to colliding with pedestrians, business district or otherwise."
Right of lane
Riding on the right of the roadway is a good way to be killed by a suddenly open door of a parked car. It might also encourage autos to pass, which can be dangerous.
All references I could find in MGL and Cambridge regulations to bicycles on the right of the roadway referred to when the bike is passing. I wonder whether the CPD page is fully correct. Also, the CPD page says "should," which in a formal document would usually be a non-binding suggestion or recommendation rather than a requirement. (It's late, so I could be misreading.)
No you're still wrong
The page you quote is a summary of the MGL (and a poorly done one at that)...you know, the things I just quoted. Furthermore, that page is incorrect in a number of places. The most blatant is the requirement that bikes ride single file. There were a large number of changes made to MGL 85 and 89 that went into effect on April 15. One of which was to modify that section of 85 linked above to allow for bicycles to ride "no more than 2 abreast" as opposed to "shall ride single file except when passing". So, congratulations, you're quoting outdated and poorly summarized garble from the Cambridge PD instead of the ACTUAL laws, like I did. Ergo, you're still wrong. The law is the law, go read it. I didn't link it for my health.
... that she doesn't continue to insist that down is up, and car is God to the point of killing or injuring a cyclist that is "in her way" and learning the law the hard way by getting her ass sued off.
I wonder if she was that Leominster woman who was "suddenly attacked" by a cyclist last year when she was driving in the right lane of Hampshire street ...
As someone who rides on a small segment of American Legion HIGHWAY as part of my commute, I'm grateful that others see the folly in its design. The Chevron part the City smuggly told me was a Sharo (where upon they gave me a link to a San Francisco site defining same). Given the name of the road is a HIGHWAY one can only imagine how fast automobiles go on it despite the 30-40mph limits along the way. We'll get used to it. But we still don't have to LIKE it. DO BETTER CITY PLEASE!
But did you see any bikes?
But did you see any bikes?
I drive American Legion Highway most days and I'm not sure I've ever seen a bike. Maybe with all the new housing near Morton St. that will change. When I'm biking in that direction, I'd much rather ride through Franklin Park than on AL Highway.
They could really use a bike lane through Uphams Corner. Also a prison term for double-parkers!
I drive on American Legion Highway every day. I can honestly say that I have never seen ONE bicycle on the road! Never!
Those new bike lanes are HUGE in spots. There seems plenty of room to have a parking lane and bike lane in some places (like in front of the shopping center). Now most of the road is No Parking because of an unused bike lane. This isn't a big deal if you are shopping in the shopping center, but now you can't legally stop on the street to run into McDonald's or Dunkin Donuts or KFC for a quick snack especially if you are driving a truck, bus or large commercial vehicle.
Also, besides the crazy lane markings, there are hundreds of new signs saying "No Parking", bike symbols, and "Share the Road". These signs are every 100 feet or so. What an incredible stupid waste of money!
the city should NOT take credit for this as a bike accommodation
The implementation of bike decals along this road show the minimum possible bike accommodations (there must be a handy acronym that can be developed here) typical of Boston. This is a high-speed traffic road that is not made any safer by the confusing collection of signs here. In fact, it could be made more dangerous by making anyone thing that riding a bike on this road is now safe. I am not sure whether I think that not having any bike markings would better than this. It's a tough call.
What is astonishing about the new Boston Bike Map, is that safer alternatives through this stretch through Franklin Park and low traffic roads through Roslindale are missing from the map, instead showing only the dangerous American Legion and Cummins Highways as the ways to go.
What is also irksome is the number of responses to this post that are about Cambridge and Somerville. Can we please talk about bike advocacy IN BOSTON for a change among people who actually live in Boston? Your Cambridge perspective is annoying me.
Don't blame the Cambridge and Somerville (and Medford) people
Nobody is drowning out the Boston-proper bikers here.
Especially in absence of any critical mass of Boston-proper people here talking, hearing from people who live in or travel through technically non-proper Boston cities can't hurt. For example, Boston-proper residents might want to try out the dooring-free bike lanes on Vassar St. in Cambridge, if they have not already, to see whether they'd like to advocate something similar to their Boston-proper city officials. Boston-improper bikers would appreciate it, since most people in Boston metro area do stuff in Boston-proper even if they don't technically live in Boston-proper.
Let's start with CAMBRIDGE STREET from Charles Street into downtown. You see, there is now a bike lane up to the circle, but nothing all the way downtown - even though the road has been redone with a median and probably could have had a bit less parking on the MGH side of the road. Nothing on the "new and friendly" Greenway either, where I also see a lot of cyclists navigating through traffic heading North to South and back again.
Somehow, all the rallies at city hall plaza that require many attendees to navigate this stretch fail to get the point across that there has been no systematic planning for getting bikes into the central city (where lots of people who don't live in Boston happen to work) from a 10 mile radius in the central metropolitan area.
I have biked through and around the city enough to know that there are similar "approach" problems from just about anywhere in South Boston, Dorchester and JP and Mission Hill when trying to get to areas where the jobs are. There has been little or no thinking about where people live and bike from and where they need to get to from a commuting perspective. Routes through and to commercial areas would also serve people who are running errands from neighborhoods as well as through-commuters.
Those of us who actually (gasp, horror, vapors at illicit perspective ...) live elsewhere but BIKE SEVERAL MILES EACH DAY IN BOSTON do have something to say about the lack of accommodations in Boston - particularly on roads like the Greenway that get state and federal funding? Economies are regional, not local, and so are commuting patterns. Boston's biggest problem is the pervasive idea that it is somehow an island, or a nostalgic belief that it is a more dominant player in the area than it is anymore. If anything, Boston's failures with bike policy don't come from it not being insular enough, but from a failure to link up to routes from surrounding areas and build on the work that Cambridge and Somerville are doing. One would think that the best way to not repeat or make mistakes would be to look to nearby communities with experience for what works and doesn't work.
American Legion HIGHWAY
The City is a little sensitive about this. I made a disparaging comment on their site and got a defensive answer that I should know what a Sharo is (the bike chevrons on the Blue Hill Ave end) and got a link to the city of San Francisco's description of same. I happen to use 50 yards of that stretch every day and I feel marginally safer and most cars do squeeze left. Anyway, our Bike Tsar, Nicole Friedman signed off with the engineers on same.
Whatever the REAL question should be? Where do we go next? Blue Hill Ave bike lanes (They're planning to put the Silver Line there so do we get sharos with the buses (ahem I mean Silver Line whatever they ares) up Blue Hill and over to Dudley Square? YES! How about improving access thru Franklin Park (good luck with the Park Department)? How about making a connection to Talbot Ave that runs east and west to Dorchester Avenue (and then all the way down Ashmont Street to the sea? (Makes sense). How about Columbia Road while we're at it? 4 car lanes north/east toward town. And Hyde Park Ave? Cummings Highway? They all make sense to have bike accomodation... Close the loop!
Buses and bikes
The mayor wants to see bicyclists sharing the dedicated lanes for the new Route 28/Silver Line/Not-a-trolley.