As reported in October, the stretch of N 45th Street in front of the Wallingford Dick’s Drive-In saw the highest number of traffic collisions between cars and bikes in the whole city.
Responding to the issue, SDOT has installed a buffered bike lane in front of the popular burger joint. The lane replaces what previously was empty space on the roadway. The extra-wide lane on this segment of 45th, at the bottom of a fairly steep hill, made the behavior of all road users fairly unpredictable. And, as we know, wide lanes encourage speeding.
In addition to the bike lane, new signs will alert drivers to the presence of the bike lane.
The bike lane, which is only on the south side of the road, lasts one block before turning into what is basically a right-turn lane for Thackary and bus stop. After that, there are two blocks with on-street parking before the curb lane turns into a right-turn lane for southbound I-5 traffic.
I started receiving notes from readers as soon as the initial spray paint markings were put down, and opinions have been all over the board. Some say it encourages people to ride exactly where they shouldn’t while others are happy to have a place a refuge and a more orderly road design.
I have not yet tried it, so I can’t really weight in on how it works in practice (and I won’t get a chance to for a while, as I am headed back to St. Louis to see the family for the next couple weeks). I have a request out to SDOT for more info on their reasoning behind the design and will update when I learn more.
If you have tried it, what are your thoughts?
Below are more photos from my friend Adam Prairie (who recently finished writing and producing a new record with his awesome band The Hoot Hoots, which you should listen to here. Fun note: Your humble editor is a founder of the recording company that put out the record. I was also in the band years ago, before they sold out…)
Downhill bike lanes are generally a bad idea, and sure there’s all kinds of riders and not everyone is assertive enough to take the lane, and I guess that has to be okay…
This section used to be on my commute. I can’t imagine putting myself way over by the curb like that. I’m glad this isn’t a mandatory bike lane state.
I suppose I’m supposed to be grateful, but not all cycling infrastructure is good infrastructure.
If they raised some bulbs or something where they painted the striped bar, this may help with safety. That paint will be gone by spring.
Bulbs or other barriers would actually make the situation worse. What drivers and cyclists sharing the road surface ought to be doing is getting in the right relative position before moving. Cars preparing to turn right should not be forced to the left of bikes continuing straight.
This is complete speculation, but I have a feeling a lot of those collisions are from people entering/exiting Dick’s. I can definitely see cars waiting to turn out of the parking lot blocking the new bike lane.
What the hell is that road sign supposed to mean?
Probably, left-turning (westbound) cars yield to bikes in bike lane?
Hmm. OK, but it appears to be mounted on a light pole that is itself on the left side of the street from where a turning vehicle would approach, so good luck spotting it, especially after dark.
@fritz: The left side of the street is the only side of the street that makes sense. You think a left-turning driver’s going to be looking to their right for signs that tell them to yield to bikes? And considering that pole is right next to one of the Dick’s parking lot curb cuts, it seems like a perfectly reasonable mounting point. Also notice that the sign is angled toward the center of the road, where the turn lane is, and that it’s made of the same highly reflective material that all new road/street signs are made of. It’s pretty much as visible and well-placed as it could be.
Also, if you really couldn’t figure out that that sign means “turning vehicles yield to bikes”, well, I hope you don’t drive.
I was really hoping they would also close those two Dick’s driveways. I feel like funneling cars to only use the entrances off of 1st ave and 2nd ave could make this area a lot safer and more predictable.
though i appreciate the effort as well, this once again seems to be a seattle bicycle infrastructure moment devised by monkeys… swerving the bicyclists out of the main flow of traffic on this downhill section, then forcing them back into traffic seems almost more unsafe that just staying with the flow. the trajectory at the start of this lane seems almost to force cyclists into a head-on collision scenario with dick’s patrons exiting from the upper exit heading west…
in my non-scientific opinion, tons of signage or blinking lights (dick’s parking lot exit-ers included) might be the best use of the money here. which seattle office is ultimately in charge of the design of this sort of bicycle infrastructure improvements? is there any oversight?
Moving the bike traffic in and out of the traffic flow like that looks like a really bad idea. I also don’t see how this solves the problem of conflicts with the drivers going in and out of Dick’s.
I think Mike Archambault has the right solution, but the city is probably reluctant to take the 45th St entrances away from Dick’s.
Why aren’t the bikes riding on 44th or 46th?
That would solve the whole problem.
I would never ride a bike on 45th. That’s just asking for trouble.
Well, if they plan on crossing I-5 46th or 44th aren’t going to work. Some people seek out less trafficked roads and some people seek out the most direct route (which is often the one with more cars on it). I believe both choices should remain available to cyclists.
Well, I do it every day and haven’t ever gotten into trouble.
Especially in this particular area where it is very easy for me to keep up with traffic.
I bike along 45th (usually going the other way, though). To take 46th from, say, Wallingford Ave, to the U-district, you’d have to go up a block, then left on Meridian, right on 46th (again), then 6 blocks later left on 2nd, and right on 47th, then somehow get back to 45th so you can get across the highway.
In addition, many of those streets are not well lit, narrow, with parking on both sides (and people backing out of driveways), and have traffic circles or completely-uncontrolled intersections.
44th is a bit better, but still has plenty of the same intersection issues, and leaves you still have to get back up to 45th to get across the highway.
That is a terrible bike lane. As others have noted, it’s on the wrong side of the street. Bicyclists have trouble keeping up with traffic going UP hills, not DOWN hills. They removed the parking which is good for sight lines exiting Dicks, but from a bicyclists perspective, you are riding in traffic prior to this block, and then weave right for a block and then weave left back into traffic? That’s nuts, better to hold your position in the lane in the first place than risk getting the nose of car jutting out into the bike lane trying to exit Dicks.
Also avoiding a left turner into Dicks, from the center of the lane you have more options, go more left and behind the car, go more right if they appear to stop and turn into Dicks with them.
No matter how you slice it pushing bicycles over to the curb for a block is not good for the rider.
Did they remove parking? I thought there was already no parking here. If I’m wrong, then people rarely used it.
Sorry, my bad, no parking existed on the street in front of Dicks. Still it’s a crumby place to stick a “bike” lane.
I’m with sheikyerbootty. While I don’t ride this area, I am always disappointed to see money earmarked for bicycle improvements squandered. Like in my neighboorhood: bike lanes on 24th Ave NW and 20th Ave NW. Seriously? Why not just ride on 22nd Ave NW? It is a residential street with very little traffic, a lot of intersection circles, and yield signs for cross streets. To me, it seems that putting bike lanes on arterials, when there are good parallel residential streets, is a waste of money. It seems a better use of money to me to focus on developing the residential streets to be used as bike routes. Or saving the money to fix the Ballard Bridge mess.
I think one point people are leaving out here is that this stretch was dangerous for everyone. I don’t know the stats, but I’m pretty sure there are a decent number of car crashes here, too.
I would not be surprised if the people most helped by this bike lane are people in cars. But I’m also hopeful the buffered lane will increase visibility for ppl in the bike lane, but again, I haven’t seen it in action.
How could the lane increase visibility when it puts riders where they’re least visible and most vulnerable to turning traffic?
Maybe riders that already were going to ride this insanely bad lane position are more visible with a lane there… but that doesn’t mean the city should enshrine that as a good way to ride. Like almost all the sharrows on 45th, this bike lane shows cyclists the wrong way to ride and tells them it’s the right way.
Whoa, everyone already covered the reasons this project is bad before I even showed up.
The solution to the Dick’s mess is banning all left turns in and out of Dick’s.
The solution for cyclists is to take the lane, or otherwise to ride 44th or 46th.
If you ever need to find me, you can be sure I’ll never be found in this lane.
Who is it, ultimately, making these (misguided) decisions at SDOT? These screw-ups will continue to happen until the individual/s pulling the trigger on these projects is consulting with real-world users (ie., cyclists, pedestrians, drivers). Anyone know who at SDOT is making these decisions?
Another big problem I see with the Seattle transportation system is the lack of communication to users regarding what these changes mean. I suspect many drivers think that when there is a bike lane, cyclists are, by law, required to ride in it. In my opinion, the city does a terrible job of communicating to drivers what these symbols and markings mean and what the rules/laws are. A good example is “sharrows.” I’ve heard a number of people (drivers) express confusion about how they are supposed to treat sharrows. Same goes for green bike boxes at intersections. There are a lot of ignorant drivers out there. (Don’t get me started!)
Want to have a crash with vehicles entering or leaving the road?
Then this is the PERFECT way to ride your bike!
First, the most minor intrusion into the lane from the driveway and the BIKE crashes into that vehicle not the motorists out in the street.
Want to make you on your bike the HARDEST vehicle in the street to see? Then ride like a rat or a mouse confined to the edge of the road, not out in the road so you can be seen.
Want to generate the most confusion you can about your intended direction and intent to use the road? Then ride far right, just like you intend to stop, get off the road or turn right.
Otherwise if you care about your safety and understand how you look to other drivers then get in line with traffic going your direction. How could you make yourself more visible, predictable and assertive than that? Only when it’s safe, move right and slow to let faster traffic pass.
Why declare all out WAR on responsible driving with the safety and convenience of the rules of the road?
Which BEHAVIOR results the the best mobility and safety for bicyclists? Separating from the flow of traffic and hugging the curb, or getting in line with traffic where you can, and riding as close to the flow of traffic as you can?
The city is building infrastructure for bicyclists that violates the rules of the road without ANY BEHAVIOR STUDY to guide it’s actions. That’s right, NO ONE has ever conducted a study of bicyclists to see which BEHAVIOR is healthy.
I believe that simple fact speaks volumes about their designs. If they knew it was safe they would do the study to back up and promote their designs. If they know it’s unhealthy behavior then they will refuse to study it to protect their politics&pork! Sorry for the offense, but in this case I was motivated to speak the truth I see.
100,000 miles plus w/o a crash and I would NEVER ride like that! That’s the OPPOSITE of what I successfully do for my mobility and safety, modeled upon the safest and most mobile cyclists I’ve found with 20 years of research.
We have several decades of behavior studies looking at whether people want to bike in busy traffic surrounded by cars, and the answer is: Only a handful. As the city has installed bike facilities around town, the number of biking fatalities have stayed relatively constant while the number of people biking has gone through the roof. That means that the fatality rate has plummeted.
Was it the facilities that made people safer or the fact that drivers are more aware of people biking when there are more of them on the roads? I don’t know, but probably a lot of both. GOOD facilities get people biking, and that’s a fact borne out all over the world and in our own city.
Bad facilities need to be fixed. I can’t speak to this one since I haven’t seen it in action, but lots of folks here don’t seem to like it at first blush. I’ll be paying attention and will suggest fixing it if it proves to be dangerous. I am still waiting for SDOT’s reasoning behind the design, which might give us an insight into what problem they were attempting to fix.
Your first sentence summation is a very succinct explication of the problem of the vehicular cycling ideology. Thanks.
Sure, Richard, and thanks for visiting, however there are times and places where the “ideology” of cycling like a vehicle are entirely appropriate, and this stretch of N 45th St – where cyclists are moving downhill at or near the speed limit is one of them.
There are a number of bike crashes here, yes, but not due to evil evil evil nasty vehicular cycling – it’s poor motorist behavior going in and coming out of the burger joint.
“We have several decades of behavior studies looking at whether people want to bike in busy traffic surrounded by cars, and the answer is: Only a handful.”
Well, of course, when you study it that way. Try asking people if they would like to learn how to handle their bikes and traffic better so they can happily and safely get along with everyone while sharing the road.
“Bad Hair’ negatively influences self-esteem, brings out social insecurities, and causes people to concentrate on the negative aspects of themselves.” Study paid for by Proctor & Gamble
We have several decades of studies that show when you advertise cigarettes as cool, smoking increases. When you’re honest about the consequences, smoking decreases.
I’ve yet to see a single program promoting bicycling with honest information, that encourages bicyclists to drive well.
The Effective Cycling program and its derivatives (Vehicular Cycling) is without competition. It was never designed to get more people bicycling. It was designed to get a few people bicycling well so they could defend it. That’s straight from the person who developed it.
And it has never been promoted or funded at any level that could have any competitive influence.
To say this program has failed when it was never meant to get more people bicycling and was never promoted or funded says more about the critics than the program.
trying to prevent accidents with a one block bike lane is like trying to unclog arteries with Dick’s Burgers!
Very interesting points, David!
However, regarding “Which BEHAVIOR results the the best mobility and safety for bicyclists? Separating from the flow of traffic and hugging the curb, or getting in line with traffic where you can, and riding as close to the flow of traffic as you can?” I think each is correct for certain circumstances:
1) If you are *not* moving at the same speed as car traffic, you want to separate as far as possible from that traffic, since speed differences greatly increase chances of collisions.
2) If you *are* moving at the same speed as car traffic, then getting in line with traffic makes sense.
Of course, doesn’t the law say something about bikes having to ride as far to the right as possible/safe/practical?
Yes, and the sharrow supposedly points people to that position (though, clearly, not always). But it is as safe as YOU feel it is safe. If getting to the right means you are no longer in the line of traffic when you would feel safer doing so, then staying in traffic is perfectly legal. Always ride where you feel safest.
@Mondo: The law was written by people that don’t know anything about cycling. It is useless as a guide for lane positioning. Many sharrows and bike lanes in this region are no better.
It makes sense to the right of the main stream of traffic if and only if there is room. It never makes sense to ride in the door zone! If there isn’t room in a lane for a car to pass you safely within it (once you’re left of the door zone), it doesn’t make sense to ride to the right of that lane, so you should ride down the middle to discourage dangerous passes (experience says this works). If you can’t ride close to the normal speed of traffic on a road, and you can’t ride in such a way that you can safely be passed, then it’s generally best to avoid the road except for short stretches.
There are also considerations with cross-traffic and oncoming left-turns that complicate the matter further. Where to ride depends on volume of uncontrolled turns and visibility considerations. Usually, if visibility is compromised or there are lots of uncontrolled turns going on it’s best to keep it simple and stay in-line with general traffic. It takes time, study, and internalization of the real dangers in traffic to develop safe riding practices. The best bike facilities make this much easier; the worst stick you in bad situations you can’t avoid.
I think riding while assuming that you can be seen, no matter where you are on the roadway, is a dumb idea. It’s almost as bad as assuming that obeying traffic laws makes you safer.
doug in seattle
You’re saying that following the rules of the road while bicycling is dangerous?
I assume that motorists will see me best if I am in-line and following the rules.
I’m willing to be less visible, temporarily in complex city traffic, to let faster traffic pass.
I choose the most heavily trafficked and fastest traffic I can find in Seattle. I’m often the only bicyclist around. Is 100,000 miles without a crash good enough? Because I research bicyclists and their results, I know others with over 250,000 miles riding major streets with no crashes. Is that good enough?
No, I’m saying that assuming you’re safer because you’re following the rules is dumb. And riding around worrying about whether people can see you is not helpful. What makes us safer on our bikes is paying attention to others on the road, no matter how we’re riding.
I don’t take the lane so people can see me – I take the lane so I can see them, and also to have more apace to react when things get hairy.
SDOT is converting 44th and 43rd between Stone Way and Latona to a greenway, a bike and pedestrain roadway. While not as fast as speeding down 45th, it would seem a safe way to bypass Dick’s and the mess which is 45th traffic. Perhaps they should restrict bikes on 45th and require them to ride on the greenway?
What if the biker’s destination is on 45th? Or what if they remember the area where that one place was, but not the cross street? Or what if they are a fast vehicular-style cyclist who prefers riding with traffic?
Banning bikes is not the answer to bike safety, but I think extra signage letting people know that the greenway exists would be good. If someone is only biking on 45th because they don’t know 44th is a safer street (or that it goes through, has safe crossings of busy streets, etc), then that will be a problem. Of course, the greenway isn’t there yet, so we’ll have to see what kind of signs go up.
The problem isn’t bikes. The problem is traffic turning in and out of Dick’s, especially left-turns. And it’s not just a problem for cyclists, it’s a problem for pedestrians. Anyone that walks by there regularly knows it. It’s really not a great place to drive, for that matter.
Banning bikes on 45th wouldn’t solve the problem. Banning left turns into and out of Dick’s would solve the problem.
Banning left turns there might work, but would be unfairly singling out Dick’s for punishment when they haven’t done anything wrong.
@Mondo: Banning left turns from Dick’s isn’t about punishing Dick’s. It’s about what’s safe for everyone. The safety problem is caused by left turns in and out of the parking lot. It’s a complicated maneuver on a busy length of street with a lot of turns going on, made more complicated by an ill-advised bike lane.
The current situation unfairly punishes, primarily, pedestrians using the south sidewalk (they have it much worse than cyclists). Why are they singled out for “punishment”? If a business can’t survive without inflicting a dangerous traffic situation on the neighborhood (unlikely in any case, especially that of Dick’s) it shouldn’t be there.
I’ve only been through this region a few times on my bike, but agree that the high volume of turning traffic at multiple locations causes much of the problem. Seems like if you want to make it safe along here and you are going to do something for only one block you’d just replace the center turn lane with a one block island.
a band aid on a deep cut will eventually bleed out. then you die.
I could almost see this being helpful if the westernmost driveway were eliminated. I agree with previous comments, I would not get over to the curb to use the bike lane on this road. I think sometimes people don’t understand how fast even a novice biker can go with even a slight downhill, and I feel unsafe making lane changes at faster speeds.
I think that the only safe answer for bicyclists is to have an EXTREME amount of paranoia while cycling. I routinely enter the words “bicyclist killed” into the Seattle Times search field to give me incentive to ride defensively at all times. It pains me to see how dangerous cycling can be. My true ally is a deserted sidewalk, which I learned from a city website is legal to ride on. I have a $395.00 blinking 1500 lumen NiteRider light on my helmet which goes a long way to increasing my safety – along with my helmet mirror which I can’t imagine riding without. I often have people slowing down for me just because they think that I must be a cop, which I am ambivalent about. My bike light makes all reflective street signs within one block appear as if they have been struck by a live power line and are in the process of melting which I find continually amusing – especially at night. My advice to all would be to get off the bike and walk it on the sidewalk whenever in doubt. I’d rather abandon the bike and run away than be run over. My blinking light is a modern day response to all the texting while driving. Too bad if it is too bright for you. That’s what it’s come to. Be safe not sorry. Good luck, fellow riders.
Just don’t blind me on the Burke Gilman, please.
Oh, I don’t. I make a point to look to the right for oncoming bikes or pedestrians. I also kick the wattage down with two presses on the button down to 1/3 power. I also point out road obstacles to riders behind me and appreciate the same courtesy. The only way to ride.
You are safer off the sidewalk than on it even with those lights. Being on the sidewalk you are in the periphery of road drivers. Even with those lights, they’ll turn right in front or into you. If you are out in traffic you are more in line with where they are looking.
And yes lights like this make a huge difference in when you are seen on the road.
Donzi x 10!
I’m with you. Stay paranoid and defensive.
I think the reflective signs blinking for a block around me is one of the best signs to all that there is a biker around, even with my comparatively puny 600 lumens. The deserted sidewalk is a true ally, especially on climbs and on dicey downtown streets.
Physics tells us that the light bouncing off reflectors goes right back to where it’s coming from, so just because you can see all that excessive blinking doesn’t mean everyone else can.
As scientist points out, with modern retroreflective signs, that flashing is mostly visible only to you, and maybe folks traveling very near you and in the same direction. Never rely on reflective surfaces, whether on signs or on clothes, to keep you visible and safe. If you want someone to see you, you need to shine a light directly at them.
For testing light/reflector, here’s a simple little test you can do that many bicyclists have found very illuminating.
Put your bright windbreaker with reflective piping about 20 feet in front of you. In the dark, place a light on your nose. The piping will be much brighter than the bright fabric. Now move the light to the side until the fabric is as bright as the reflective piping. Then, compare that distance to the distance of your car’s headlights to the driver’s nose (then a truck). Also think of the bicyclist to the far right and then right in front of the driver.
You do want to know how your reflective material looks, right? Give it a test and let me know what you find!
If you have any expectation that your helmet light will illumate reflectors anything like a motorized vehicle’s lights, you just might be in for a big surprise!
Also, I just published an article on lights and bicycle driving. It’s here:
Yes, I fully understand reflectivity, thank you. The flashing reflective signs multiply the effect of a strong headlight to the front. The flashing reflective signs often help alert a pedestrian ahead that a cyclist is approaching, as well as bouncing back to cars overtaking.
Oh great, you’re one of those who thinks its OK to blind other cyclists because it makes YOU safer.
You are not being safe when you have blinking light on top of your helmet, you become a safety hazard then. I had to learn my lessons the hard way as a youngster, but I never believed in blinding other road users.
I’ve got my blinking headlight on my handlebars. I think I’m with you on the blinking light on the helmet. I thought I wanted one, but I’ve been checking out bikers with a white blinker on the helmet, and it looks confusing. I think drivers identify better with a handlebar mounted white blinker. I do run a red blinky on the back of the helmet.
No, I think it’s safer to blind other drivers. Cyclists are just innocent victims of my lights and when I’m on the trail I tone them way way down.
And this belief is based on years of riding and driving and looking to see when I could “first see” a bicyclist and trying to analyze why I saw them. And trying to analyze when other drivers see me, their reaction, and whether it improved my safety or not.
First is: You must be brighter than the ambient light. That means more visible than street lights, other cars, neon store signs, flashing strobes on gasoline stations etc.
Second: Your lights should instantly say “Bicyclist”, not car. That’s because we travel slower and take longer to get through intersections. I want people to judge my speed accordingly.
This is where both a handlebar mounted light and a helmet light come into play. The only vehicles on the road with two single lights one mounted above the other is a bicyclist.
As for flash vs non flash, in total darkness, both flashing is too distracting for all of us. I can’t see the road, drivers are blind. So I use both in steady state.
In rain/fog/low visiblity, & darkness, I use a highly visible fast flash helmet lights. Steady state on the bike, so I can see where I’m going. In daylight, I use slow flash everywhere.
Added to that I use a highway reflective vest, Cat 3 (55mph rated roads) that allows headlamps on cars to see me, whether or not my lights are working.
And mostly it works. Although last night a bus misjudged my speed and after passing me cut in way too soon and way too close. That’s where an airhorn comes in. No need to chase him down, just a long loud blast to let the driver know they blew it.
You are not making yourself or anyone else safe by blinding other road users. It is essential to have a light that can be seen, and a light that lights up the road in front of you. When you blind another road user, motorist or cyclist, you are INTENTIONALLY creating a moment when they CANNOT SEE YOU (that’s the definition of the word blind), they can not see where you are and you are hoping they are capable enough to not panic too much. It’s not only crazy, it’s downright mean. I’d call it selfish, but it’s not good for you either, it makes you less safe and less liked.
Dick’s has two driveways, why don’t they make one an entrance and one an exit? Maybe even some dividers in the median?
I don’t see this bike lane protecting cyclists as it is.
I rode past this on some errands today. It feels way over to the left. I can’t imagine anyone is going to use it, especially considering that it is a block long! God, what a waste of money.
Did the city assume that all the bike/car collisions in this area are between cyclists and drivers moving in the same direction? I hope not, because that would be terrifically stupid of them.
Right, I mean.
I don’t think that spending too much money on this is the problem (looks pretty cheap, which can be a problem when you’re trying to solve a big problem)
Exactly, Tom. doug, we should at least wait to see if the data shows a reduction in collisions before making such gross assumptions.
Here’s what I think happened:
The city did a crash study. They found crashes at this location. Then they tried to “engineer” a solution for those crashes.
Here’s what they did not do:
Study the bicyclists’ behavior and see which bicyclists were crashing: those riding with the traffic or those riding far right in the position most likely to crash with vehicles entering or leaving Dick’s driveway.
If its the bicyclists riding out with the traffic that are crashing while those riding to the far right are safer, then this bike lane might be the solution.
But…if the bicyclists out with the traffic are not crashing while those far right are…then this bike lane is backwards. The solution would be to encourage bicyclists to ride like those avoiding crashes and to discourage them from riding like those experiencing crashes. But… looking at those crashing and trying to engineer a solution around their crash-prone behavior represents a very serious blind-spot in understanding safety by ignoring the importance of behavior. This facility in that case just encourages dangerous behavior while discouraging safe behavior.
I’ve already asked the city to study this, years ago, backed up by a survey (posted on my website BikeDexter.com years ago, although I’ve since taken the survey down) of bicyclists who wanted it.
Why the stubborn refusal to do a simple study? Is it the Proctor & Gamble effect? “Bad Hair’ negatively influences self-esteem, brings out social insecurities, and causes people to concentrate on the negative aspects of themselves.” Study paid for by Proctor & Gamble
Also, if few bicyclists are riding out in the street, then the bike lane may show an improvement as it calls attention to the majority poor behavior. But that improvement does not mean that far greater safety could be achieved by behavior improvements. And consider the effect of encouraging poor behavior here…it will just encourage more of it elsewhere, requiring still more “engineering” that never produces results that simple effective behaviors will.
I love this comment thread! I plan on responding to the VC vs Facilities debate in a sec, ’cause I LOVE that conversation but first, the topic at hand, this funny looking bike lane and its crazy street sign from Mars.
I have not seen this bike lane in action yet either. I am pretty skeptical of downhill bike lanes if they are separated in a way that makes entering and exiting them at speed a hazard on its own and this one sure looks like it does that.
It seems like some SDOTters had their eyes on this danger spot, (perhaps drawn there by this influential blog and its erudite and vociferous readers?) and decided to “pull out the big guns” with a buffered bike lane! lotsa paint! its buffered! but only in this kinda wacky, hyper-focused manner. If you can accept curb lanes at all, and if you can stomach downhill curb lanes, than this one still seems silly as it focuses not just on this one block, but on this one side of the street on this one block as though a treatment of the area of the road closest to the burger joint would bandage up the wound, as someone said earlier.
Plus, these signs that I think are supposed to tell motorists to yeild to bikes in bike lanes and bike boxes and such? Wicked confusing and from Mars! No good signs. Hiring someone to stand on the sidewalk and yell instructions at road users as they ride by would be better communication. Sheesh. I just looked at that picture of the sign again. Pew, stinky.
I am in complete agreement that the problem here is the behavior the parking lot entrances encourage from drivers and there are three solutions that I, a totally unqualified road safety planner prescribe.
One: Limit the Dick’s lot entrances to one way each. One goes in, one goes out.
Two: Limit or eliminate left turns in either or both directions using islands or barriers.
Three: Force Dicks to carry tasty veggie burgers and then give them to me for free, for being so smart. Also, to other cyclists as reparations for their dangerous parking lot and because of bikes are the best.
Vote Me for class president.
Whoa, that last comment was long! and I’m coming back for the second bite!
The Vehicular Cycling thing…
I am in full agreement with all Vehicular Cyclists who say that cycling or driving bikes in a vehicular manner is the safest way to ride with traffic. I’m a vehicular cyclist myself as well as a bike teacher and when I teach riding, I teach vehicular cycling as one of the most important parts of the toolkit for cyclists who are capable of riding with traffic. I also agree that Forrester (author of “Effective Cycling” and founder of Vehicular Cycling) did not intend VC as a way to get more people biking. Thing is, I so want to get more people biking! For more reasons than there will ever be time to list I want to get more people biking! So do probably most of the readers of this blog and the entire galactic movement of cycling advocates and activists. In order to encourage new cyclists, I am very interested in facilities improvements and road treatments and Copenhagenizing and chair lifts and bike-to-work days and cycle-chics and all the encouraging work we can do. It all has a place. As does the practical bike and traffic handling skills taught by VC. Heck, intended or not, VC is also its own kind of advocacy for many new cyclists. Learning to communicate with traffic when you are driving your bike is so empowering for those of us who are capable of it! Plus, until cars go away, (could happen!) there will never be dedicated cycle routes connecting every destination in the world, so traffic handling skills are necessary if people want to ride safely for transportation in cities or outside of them.
What I love about VC folks criticizing bike lanes is that there are many many many many many many many ways to build a bad bike lane and a bad bike lane hurts people. Cyclists who hate bike lanes on principle are probably the best at catching the worst flaws of the bad ones. So I say, even though I myself do not support an absolute VC dominated bike movement, “Crank on, cranky cyclists! Tell the city when the work they are ostensibly doing to help us be safe is only making it worse out there!” Just try to keep an open mind about the very concept of bike facilities. They may not be for you but, if they are designed and built to the highest standards of safety and awesomeness, they may work for many other bicyclists.
Don’t vote for me for class president. Vote for Kurt Hummel.
We actually have some decent bike lanes and path around here. I can think of several cases where a bike lane or path is the difference between my being able to make a trip on bike and not being able to (I-90, Harbor Island Bridge, Bothell-Everett Highway). There are bike lanes and paths that probably make my trips more pleasant (maybe even safer?), and may make bike trips possible for some others (climbs on Fremont Avenue, Harvard Avenue, NE 68th St. in Kirkland; the University Bridge; parts of the Burke-Gilman trail). Some planned paths will be really great (520 bridge) and some others will attract new cyclists and shouldn’t be too awful (Broadway cycletrack). Many that exist are pretty unobjectionable.
It’s worth calling out the bad ones, and this is one of the worst. We should all be lighting up SDOT’s blog about this.
Even if he’s conceding the race, I’m still voting for Davey as a write-in!
Anyway, it was silly of me to get into a vehicular cycling debate on a travel day, though maybe it was because I was grumpy and at the airport that prompted my retort. I agree with all that Davey says about the debate. It’s a very good summary of the pros on each side and the reasons that drive me to argue for both vehicular cycling education and safer facilities (and against bad facilities, of course). Thanks, Davey!
Davey makes two very good, very very important points here. He is absolutely right on both:
1. Cyclists must learn and practice vehicular cycling and
infrastructure creates more cyclists.
2. All of us here, ESPECIALLY us hard core, long time, vehicular cyclists MUST be the ones to point out bad bike lanes and most importantly the REASONS they are bad. The new cyclists, the motorists, and the city can’t do it. Even when we (me especially) just want to scream and give up, we have to calmly discuss the REASONS.
From the school of thought that would like to accommodate everyone from 5 to 105 with a complete network of safe bike infrastructure – including both arterial routes and quiet greenways – what strikes me about this is just how peculiar it is. One of the key components of safe infrastructure, according to what I read about bike planning, is consistency and predictability. This sure doesn’t follow that rule! A one-block stretch of separated lane on a busy arterial is not going to encourage any grandmas to take their 5-year-olds out for a ride – and from the comments here, is also not going to persuade any take-the-lane cyclists to move to the right. I’ll be curious to hear SDOT’s perspective when you get back from vacation, Tom!
I’ll be reporting from abroad! But you all have to be my eyes and ears on the road. Take photos of newsworthy bike stuff and send them to me!
Just had this thought: What time of day are the majority of the collisions in front of Dick’s happening? Are they spread out evenly across the day and night?
I’m wondering how many of the at-fault drivers in these incidents are impaired. I know Dick’s is a popular late-evening destination for people who’ve recently been consuming alcohol. Just thinkin’ maybe this could be a factor? If so, this becomes more an issue for SPD than SDOT.
Or it heightens the need to remove variables and difficult decisions from the driving experience (I like the idea of closing the 45th exits and only using side street exits idea suggested above!) That’s not to say an impaired driver won’t injure people in any situation, but let’s not make it any harder than it needs to be.
I was thinking recently about what roads would look like if they were designed under the assumption that a huge number of cars are driven by impaired drivers at any time (which is reality). They would look so different. Seems like a great design standard to go on…
Brilliant idea Tom. Design all streets as if all drivers were impaired and or distracted at all times.
Whoa! Long comment thread. This seems like a piece of bicycle infrastructure that was implemented by someone who never rides a bike and didn’t bother to talk to anyone who does. Bike lanes are great, but as others have said having a bike lane for a single block in the downhill direction is a terrible idea. If riders foolishly decide to use this it will only mean having to swerve out of traffic as impatient drivers pass dangerously so they can hurry up and wait at the traffic light one block away. In the meantime almost as soon as someone riding a bike has merged over into this horrible bike line they need to merge back into the traffic that has been speeding past. I haven’t ridden through this area in the past few months, but have been through here a number of times prior to that. Riding downhill on 45th here with traffic feels fairly safe. It’s the uphill sections on the other side of 45th with no bike lane and parked cars along the side that are nerve-wracking.
This isn’t rocket science. There is a significant increase in accidents immediately outside of Dicks. Has anyone ever for the records not driven away from Dicks with a cheeseburger in their mouth? Maybe some signs that could be read by Dicks patrons that read “Put the Cheeseburger down” would help.
While it’s obvious that this was designed by someone who does not and will not ever ride a bicycle, what’s more important is that the basic thinking behind it indisputably was to GET BICYCLES OUT OF THE WAY. Maybe they wanted us out of the way because somehow they thought it would make US safer, maybe they wanted us out the of the way to make motorists happier… But it’s clear that the thinking was: problem here — solution: get bikes out of the way. That this lane is a complete failure is undeniable, but it is the kind of thinking that says we are the problem that disturbs me more.
Pingback: Detour discovery « Family Ride
Pingback: Bike Lane at Dick’s | Wallyhood
I agree with BJ and Mark,
I am curious if anyoen from DOT, Cascade, City f Seattle spoke with Dicks management staff. Just a thought. They have been around a long time and are a positive fixture in the community.. and true, some of us are now vegan or whatever.. the fact remains that Dicks is a legitimate business with a long positive tradition in Seattle. Their business is hurt when there are accidents, polica cars, fearful customers and major drama.
I consider myself a fairly experienced bicyclist. When I first saw this “bike lane” from my car recently, I was shocked. To put the lane closer to the driveways to- and-from Dick’s seems to me much more dangerous than any of the many options that were there before.
In so many areas of the city, the more recent “bike lanes” seem like terrible ideas to me. Who comes up with that? It certainly doesn’t seem that the people creating these solutions are bicyclists themselves or have tried the solutions before installing them. terrible, terrible, terrible