Tuesday, October 17, 2006

bike lanes on pontiac trail

It appears that the city council has approved new bike lanes on Pontiac Trail from Barton Drive to the Ann Arbor railroad, as we have received reports that the initial markings have already been layed. A bike lane currently extends north of Barton Drive and this section falls just short of connecting the existing lane to Broadway. The lane will also nearly connect cyclists to the wooden decked path that provides non-motorized access along Barton Drive going west.

Responding to a concerned citizen's report that the lane striping was mismarked resulting in a too narrow bike lane, the city's transportation program manager, Eli Cooper writes,

Given a 6 inch wide bike line stripes, we wind up assigning one full
foot of the thirty-four foot width to bicycle lane lines. Therefore, if
the citizen's measurement was only to the inside edge of the marking it
should have only shown 4' 9''. In any event as a result of the input,
we had field staff double check the preliminary markings and make sure
we had full width bicycle lanes in this corridor. I understand some
minor adjustments were made as part of our inspection process, partly as
a result of the citizens' concern and input. Please thank him or her for
bringing this issue to our attention.


It appears that the city is making an effort to meet the AASHTO standards for cycling lanes. We applaud the keen eye and effort that raised this issue and are glad to see a swift response by the city. We further hope that the city stays on top of these details as the bike lane network continues to grow.

In related news, researchers in Texas have determined that marked cycling lanes improve safety. They point out that on roads with marked cycling lanes, cyclists are more likely to stop at stop signs and less likely to ride on sidewalks. Without marked lanes, cyclists were also more likely to ride "dangerously close" to the curb. "'Bike lanes reinforce the concept that bicyclists are supposed to behave like other vehicles, and make life safer for everyone involved as a result,' Hallett said."

On the other hand, they argue that the marked lanes are safer because motorists don't yield as much space when passing cyclists.
Without a marked bike lane, [motorists] veered away from bicyclists, crossing into the next motorist lane nearly nine out of 10 times.
With a striped bike lane, six of 10 motorists swerved, but those who swerved only encroached about 40 percent as far.

The article does not address how researchers justify the the association of improved safety with cars yielding less space when passing cyclists in the under-sized bike lanes that the researchers also advocate. Fortunately, Ann Arbor seems more interested in providing cyclists with adequate road space.

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