Solving Cycling Problems

Question

Richard asked:  I live in a predominately college town. I recently moved and started biking to campus. There are no bike lanes for a portion of the road I have to ride down currently, and I am forced to either ride down the sidewalk which is crowded with pedestrians at frequent bus stops or ride down a 4 lane (two lanes each way) street. I prefer a car lane when at all possible due to hills and blind angles of cars pulling out on sidewalks.

I typically have no problem on the ride to work, but after I am done with the day and riding back I have had someone either almost drive into me, illegally passing me in a intersection and almost colliding with me every since the fall semester started. All of these situations have occurred at one intersection,  both on the sidewalk and while using a car lane.  I want to know if there is anything I can do by contacting the city or law enforcement to reduce the seemingly high odds of an accident occurring.

Answer

The police and local officials will not know about these conditions unless they are reported.  I recommend contacting them and local cycling clubs and other organizations to begin a dialog and cooperative effort to address this and other problems.  You may find that others have similar problems here and in other locations.  See these posts for other such cyclist/law enforcement cooperative efforts that have been successful.

http://flbikelaw.org/2010/01/riderightdrive-right-campaign/

http://flbikelaw.org/2009/10/lake-county-bicycle-summit/

As you have correctly pointed out, there are significant hazards associated with cycling on sidewalks which are frequently not recognized.

I must comment on your use of the term, “car lane”.  The roadways are for the use of all legal vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and duties as other drivers.  In some circumstances, a bicyclist must use a bike lane when present.  When a bike lane is not present, or in the many circumstances which do not require a cyclist to use the bike lane, cyclists must be fully aware of safe and legal cycling practices and use them for their own protection and comfort.

Although it sounds like you are an experienced cyclist, a great resource for safe cycling practices is the Florida Bicycle Association’s Savvy Cycling course.  You may want to consider the class and encourage local cyclists to become instructors to educate others in your area.

Posted in Ask Geo, Cooperative Initiatives Tagged with:
4 comments on “Solving Cycling Problems
  1. Richard says:

    Thank you for the information. I feel I should apologize for using the term ‘car lane’. I was drawing a blank for how to describe a lane on the roadway and that was the only adequate term I could think of at the time. Is there any way to more accurately summarize a lane on a roadway?

    • Keri says:

      Richard, “travel lane” or “general use lane.” The latter is usually used when a bike lane is present to distinguish it from the “preferential use lane” which is what a bike lane actually is supposed to be, sans misguided mandatory use laws laws.

      Are you in Tallahassee? If so, we will have one CyclingSavvy instructor there after the October training.

  2. Geo says:

    Keri, as a matter of practice, I removed his location, but yes, Tallahassee. Good guess.

    If you want the nauseating detail, read on! Note the difference in the definition of “roadway” in the statutes and the FDOT information:

    s. 316.003 – Definitions

    (42) Roadway – That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder. In the event a highway includes two or more separate roadways, the term “roadway” as used herein refers to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively.

    Florida Department of Transportation
    Plans Preparation Manual

    GLOSSARY OF TERMS:

    16. Roadway: The portion of a highway, including shoulders, for vehicular use. A divided highway has two or more roadways.

    20. Traffic Lane/Traveled Way: The designated widths of roadway pavement, exclusive of shoulders and marked bicycle lanes, marked to separate opposing traffic or vehicles traveling in the same direction. Traffic lanes include through travel lanes, auxiliary lanes, turn lanes, weaving, passing, and climbing lanes. They provide space for passenger cars, trucks, buses, recreational vehicles and, in some cases, bicycles.

    21. Travel Lane: The designated widths of roadway pavement marked to carry through traffic and to separate it from opposing traffic or traffic occupying other traffic lanes. Generally, travel lanes equate to the basic number of lanes for a facility.

    FloridaGreenbook
    Definition of Terms

    Traffic Lane / Traveled Way – A designated width of the roadway exclusive of shoulders and bicycle lanes for the movement of vehicles. This includes auxiliary lanes.

    Travel Lane – A designated width of roadway pavement marked to carry through traffic and to separate it from opposing traffic or traffic occupying other traffic lanes. Generally, travel lanes equate to the basic number of lanes for a facility.

    Roadway – The portion of a street or highway, including shoulders, for vehicular use.

    Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices

    178. Roadway—That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel and parking lanes, but exclusive of the sidewalk, berm, or shoulder even though such sidewalk, berm, or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles or other human-powered vehicles. In the event a highway includes two or more separate roadways, the term roadway as used in this Manual shall refer to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively.

    242. Traveled Way—The portion of the roadway for the movement of vehicles, exclusive of the shoulders, berms, sidewalks, and parking lanes.

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