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When is a Bike Lane NOT a Bike Lane?

By gasman - 2 September 2013 55

And before I begin, this is a discussion about bicycle lanes, not a car vs bike thread. To preempt any argument, good bicycle infrastructure benefits everybody, including car drivers.

You may have noticed some unusual bike lanes popping up around Canberra. Unusual, because they run for just few metres near intersections. They do not run the length of the block, and do not provide a continuous and dedicated bicycle lane. They are uniformly provided only where the road is so wide that cyclists don’t really need a painted bike lane. They are a cheap and nasty attempt at satisfying some sort of bike lane obligation or to justify some bike lane statistics.

Here is one in Campbell:

Bike Lane Campbell

And one in Aranda:

Bike Lane Aranda

My question is, are these really bike lanes? Is car parking prohibited along these, even in the middle of the block where the lane is not marked? Or even where it is marked:

Bike Lane Aranda

The pic below is what a bike lane should look like (pics from when I lived in Vancouver, BC). Note the clear signage, the continuous lane, clear of debris, the No Parking signs:

Bike Lane Vancouver

And also from Vancouver, a bike lane going around a corner, protected from cars taking the corner too sharply:

Bike Lane Vancouver

This new style of Canberra bike lane does not comply with Australian standards, is confusing, both unnecessary (as it is only on wide roads) and inadequate (not continuous, not signposted or enforced and don’t provide safe routes when cyclist really need it, i.e. on narrow roads).

If you are interested is seeing how a real first world country makes cycle routes through a busy city, read my photo-essay about Vancouver’s bike system.

What’s Your opinion?


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55 Responses to
When is a Bike Lane NOT a Bike Lane?
magiccar9 4:25 pm 02 Sep 13

Solidarity said :

Cycle lanes should definitely be segregated from the roads by a gutter or something. It just makes everyone safer.

They have those… they’re called cycle paths. Apparently those aren’t good enough for our lycra-clad friends though.

Tymefor 3:19 pm 02 Sep 13

I think it may be possible that the lines just haven’t been completed yet. That’s how limestone looked for a couple of days. One guy/ truck that does the bike and that one large section of line. Then the regular group get around to joining them all together when it gets to the top of their list. The first 2 pics look like the work is brand new so maybe that’s all it is. Fairly sure you can’t obstruct any thoroughfare, which a bike lane is, when parking. So no, don’t park on them.

We are supposed to be getting no parking signs on my street, my neighbor who rampantly supporting the whole thing said they havent arrived yet because of a big wait time on new ones. Its been 2 monsths since they were approved, so maybe they are still coming.

davo101 3:10 pm 02 Sep 13

BicycleCanberra said :

davo101 said :

When it doesn’t meet Austroad guidelines?

“This Guide is produced by Austroads as a general guide. Its application is discretionary. Road
authorities may vary their practice according to local circumstances and policies.”

Indeed; which is why we get pretend bicycle lanes in Canberra.

The Aranda example is an excellent case of money wasting. The road is quite wide enough (according to Austroads) that it doesn’t need a separate bicycle lane, but they’ve put one in anyway (presumably to meet some sort of quota for new bike lanes). In other cases where we actually need bike lanes they splash a bit of paint on the shoulder and give us a sliver of pavement next to 80 km/h traffic. Or better still, when you get to the dangerous part the lane just stops and you’re on your own.

Lederhosen 2:54 pm 02 Sep 13

The photos in your link that look great, and the sooner we get transport infrastructure like that, the better. That will benefit motorists, parents, kids and anyone who likes liveable cities.

However, I’m not sure that I agree with your criticisms of the short bike lane markings. They do remind motorists that there might just be bikes in the area and they provide some guidance at intersections. In the long term only increased investment is going to make up for the shortfall in infrastructure in Canberra but at least some political leadership in the ACT is interested in improving infrastructure.

carnardly 2:52 pm 02 Sep 13

It’s not a bike lane. Mind you – if nothing else, it’s a reminder to car drivers not to hook turn a cyclist by chucking a left over them.

I think its better than nothing, but its certainly not a bike lane. Would i head check that corner if i hear something come up behind me? you betcha!!!

zorro29 2:37 pm 02 Sep 13

agree. good bike lanes benefit everyone (motorists, pedestrians and cyclists). where they aren’t separate enough, you get pedestrians walking on them and/or motorists swerving into them/opening doors/parking in them.

there are cities with fantastic systems but they (like here) aren’t everywhere in those places. we have some fantastic examples in australia too (and canberra has one of the best systems in australia already). living in sydney now, i miss how fantastic bike riding was in canberra.

but those examples you posted don’t seem safe for cyclists (they made the road too narrow and people are parking in them!)

Aeek 2:33 pm 02 Sep 13

They seem to be painted close the the corners where its illegal for a car to park anyway, and where sometimes I absolutely do not want to ride for my own safety. i.e (not pictured) Aranda, approaching Wangara St, I am often doing 40 something (and I’m a weak rider).

Maybe the intention is to highlight that its a major cycling road? If so, just the bike stencils without the lines might work better.

eily 2:30 pm 02 Sep 13

When it turns into a corner.

Postalgeek 2:18 pm 02 Sep 13

Instead of concrete or a gutter, a possible solution for marking cycle lanes on busy trunk roads is flexible reflective lane dividers with regular gaps such as:

http://balizamiento.com/catalogo/lane-markers/155-delimitador-d-36-continuo.html

or

http://balizamiento.com/catalogo/lane-markers/298-carril-bici-bus.html

Vehicles can still pass over them at low speed in an emergency, but they’ll give any inattentive drifting driver a sharp reminder of where they shouldn’t be.

BicycleCanberra 2:04 pm 02 Sep 13

davo101 said :

When it doesn’t meet Austroad guidelines?

“This Guide is produced by Austroads as a general guide. Its application is discretionary. Road
authorities may vary their practice according to local circumstances and policies.”

BicycleCanberra 2:00 pm 02 Sep 13

If you are doing comparisons it is important to note that these Canberra streets are residential collector streets with speed limits at 50-60km/h and the ones in Vancouver look more like arterial roads. Having said that I agree with you that this is a poor attempt at cycle infrastructure by ACT Roads. Is this a “cycle street” a “bike boulevard” or a cycle connector street? There is enough verge to install cycle tracks on each side of the street,but is expensive. Does this connect to the overall network or provide the idea of a cycle lane without a continuous cycle lane.
Lets hope the review of the design standards (by whom we don’t know) provides some better guidance and the cycle network priority plan also. Then there’s the committee hearing into Vulnerable road users which will hopefully recommend better infrastructure and lower residential speeds which is now the standard in Europe.

Aeek 1:47 pm 02 Sep 13

Solidarity said :

Cycle lanes should definitely be segregated from the roads by a gutter or something. It just makes everyone safer.

and then you get cyclists riding on the road proper, unable to switch to the bike lane because of the obstructions. Rather defeats the purpose.

davo101 1:43 pm 02 Sep 13

When it doesn’t meet Austroad guidelines?

johnboy 1:40 pm 02 Sep 13

Gutters and fences are *much* more expensive than paint on the road but give the minister no more warm fuzzies at all!

Solidarity 1:39 pm 02 Sep 13

Cycle lanes should definitely be segregated from the roads by a gutter or something. It just makes everyone safer.

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