Buffered Bike Lane

I am writing this to answer many of the objections to buffered bike lanes.

Most of these objections are going to seem silly and stupid. That’s because they are both.

These objections are not real objections based upon a person trying to make the world a better place, but rather they are only being asked as a last ditch attempt to toss up smoke to prevent infrastructure.

I spoke of this before, this is due to the religious belief that cycling infrastructure is inherently bad.

Since this is an absurd view, to be more politically savvy, the questions are raised as concerns in the usual soft and dishonest manner we have seen before.

Q: What is it?

A: It’s a bike lane with an additional buffer for safety. This buffer is generally a hash mark or a chevron.

Q: Won’t this make intersections more dangerous? Won’t motorists be confused?

A: No it won’t.

http://bikeportland.org/2011/05/12/pbot-data-buffered-bike-lanes-lead-to-big-safety-benefits-on-holgate-52885

While it’s difficult to find crash data on buffered bike lanes only, they tend not significantly increase injuries. If they did kill a lot of people or confused motorists to the point where there was a problem, they would have been removed.

Q: Won’t this make traffic flow faster as cyclists slow down traffic?

A: In most cases small changes like this do not cause a change in traffic volume or number of cars that get through a given area. They do reduce motorists speeds, however. This makes things safer for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists.

In fact, most buffered bike lanes are not put into place for cyclists, but due to their secondary traffic calming which benefits the entire community and takes nothing away from the motorists.

Q: Won’t this take up valuable parking space which will hurt local business?

A: No. There has never been a business became bankrupt because public parking spaces were removed. A business that depends on their usage, for free, of public resources like parking are always going to be vulnerable to changes in the political climate.

However, businesses in bike friendly areas tend to do as well if not better than businesses with more dead space wasted on storage of private vehicles on public land.

Q: Won’t this take away my “right to take the lane”?

I honestly don’t know.

Most people do not want to ride in traffic because they, correctly, see the danger in it.

There is no legal “right for cyclists to ride on all roads” as they are banned from the freeways.

The main reasons one would want to ride in the road is because:

1. There’s not alternative.

With a buffered bike lane this is no longer valid.

2. It’s seen as “safe”.

With a buffered bike lane this is no longer valid.

3. It’s faster.

This may be so, but if we let motorists speed they’d go faster, too. This is obviously not allowed for safety reasons.

4. It’s a “right”.

A right to do something that is annoying, dangerous, selfish, and stupid actually is not a right.

On the other hand, everyone has the right to a choice of a safe, efficient, and comfortable transporation mode and a buffered bike lane facilitates this.

Q: Buffered bike lanes are experimental. It’s foolish to advocate for something that we have not seen.

A: Promoting the benefits of something based upon engineer’s expert opinions is not foolish. Ignoring the data for success in other places is foolish.

Furthermore, there have been several bike lanes with buffers next to them, and there were no problems with them at all. I don’t think that anyone died in any of them. On the other hand, there are many roads where people do die, and there’s little outcry from the same camp to better engineer these roads.

Q: Is the city open to liability if they build a buffered bike lane?

A: I don’t know; as a non-lawyer, I don’t give legal advice.

But there’s no reason to suspect that their liability would be magically higher for this. In fact, the law states that the final decision on design is made by the designer, the engineer.

At any rate, the city has lawyers who will make sure that liability is not a problem.

Q:Will a buffered bike lane be too expensive?

A: No it won’t. This is the least expensive way to get people cycling. With all the benefits it offers regarding more cyclists, safety, better health, quieter streets and more, the buffered bike lane will pay for itself.

Q: Because a cyclist is a vehicle, won’t a cyclist be imprisoned behind a buffered bike lane, unable to move, for ever due to the fact that vehicles can’t cross double lines?

A: No. This is a long, long discussion as there are many parts of the law to consider.

However, on the buffered bike lane on Park Ave just below University St, in San Diego, there was never a question of cyclists being trapped. They rode to where they needed to. Also, motorists were also able to navigate perfectly well. There were no tickets wrongly issued either.

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