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680Re(2): [carfree_cities] bike to work

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  • Timothy.Cooper@cec.eu.int
    Jun 5, 2000
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      > > Ditto. Postings (and offlist messages) by both you and Wade Eide have
      > > opened my eyes to the dangers of bike lanes. And on many streets,
      > > riding in traffic lanes when there's insufficient space alongside them
      > > (with proper precautions), forcing motorists to slow down and change
      > > lanes or wait until you have space to yield safely, is definitely
      > > safer than getting passed at high speeds while you're inches away from
      > > a parked car or a curb.
      > >
      >
      > What is meant by bike lane in this context? Is it part of the road used
      > by autos that is reserved to bike use?
      >
      > Is there a maximum speed limit above which it is not wise to bike with
      > autos.
      >
      > Martha

      "Bike lanes" in this context refers to cycle paths which run parallel to but separate from the carriageway. Where vehicle speeds are too high for cyclists and motor vehicles to mix safely, segregated cycle paths offer enhanced safety. However, this enhanced safety lasts only while segregation is maintained, and is offset by increased danger when bikes and motor vehicles are thrown together again. If cyclists are removed from the roadway, drivers forget they exist - out of sight, out of mind - and drivers are not looking out for them when they reappear. Thus cycle paths are generally a good idea out of town, where vehicle speeds are high and segregation can be maintained over large distances, but a bad idea in town, where there are too many intersections. At intersections it is generally safer for a cyclist to be in the traffic, where a car would be, than on a segregated cycle facility, where drivers may fail to see him.

      I generally reckon that a 50 kph speed limit is the maximum acceptable on a road used by cyclists. Where speed limits are higher, a segregated cycle path or alternative route is needed. Novice cyclists and children need roads with a speed limit no higher than 30 kph. However, many of us ride on streets with higher vehicle speeds. The higher the vehicle speeds, the greater the danger to cyclists, and the more important it is for cyclists to ride in a way which reduces the risk. Novice cyclists who are afraid of traffic tend to expose themselves to danger, by trying to stay on the road while keeping out of the way of cars. That's not possible. Either get off the road (onto a slower, safer road), or claim your right to be on the road, part of the traffic. It is not wise to ride on a road on which you don't feel safe, whatever the speed limit (or typical vehicle speeds).

      Timothy Cooper
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