Bike Commute Diaries: One Step Forward

26 Nov

One day you’re flying high seeing bold green lanes installed on a major east-west bike route. The next you discover a bike lane on a high-speed north-south boulevard is being quietly rubbed out. You ride the green lane and you’re bullied by a bus into the coned-off area before the paint is dry. Where the paint is dry, there’s a car stopped and waiting in the green lane for no obvious reason and you have to merge back with the buses.

One step forward, how many steps back? It’s hard not to get discouraged sometimes.

San Fernando Green Lane

About the Bike Commute Diaries: Launched in May 2012 for National Bike Month, this series explores the unexpected and surprising things I’ve learned about bicycling for transportation.


Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Commute Diaries


6 responses to “Bike Commute Diaries: One Step Forward

  1. Michael Harley

    November 26, 2013 at 8:13 am

    The problem with painted bike lanes is that it’s still only paint. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take painted bike lanes over nothing but protected would be better.

    • ladyfleur

      November 26, 2013 at 8:30 am

      For protected lanes to work well you have to change the intersection signals to prevent right or left hooks which is more expensive. And I’m not sure how you get out of the lane to make a left turn from a protected lane on the right. In Amsterdam they have special turn areas across the intersection. I haven’t seen those here in the US yet. Have you?

      • Michael Harley

        November 26, 2013 at 9:00 am

        I live and bike in Nashville and we don’t have any protected lanes. We’re doing good to have bike lanes… Mostly just “share the road” and sharrows on normal roads.

      • Richard Masoner

        November 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

        Re left turns: In Amsterdam they do box turns (and have special signals phases just for cyclists for that, and some places have jug handle turns I think), here you can do box turns too, or just leave the lane to make your turn as you’re legally entitled to do per cvc 21208.

      • ladyfleur

        November 26, 2013 at 10:53 am

        Richard, in a fully protected (i.e. curb scenario) it’s hard to leave the lane, so only option is box turns. I’ve used the set-up in Amsterdam and it worked well because they design for it. I just hope they do it right when they do it here in the US.

        Even without curbs, I find box turns tough when the bike traffic is anything but light. It’s hard to slow down and make the 90 degree turn when there’s someone behind you. And in some cases, like turning left from 4th street in San Jose on San Fernando, the bike lane is not near the curb. My husband behind me was like WTH?! when I stopped “in the middle of the road” to turn left.

  2. Tian

    November 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I’m grateful for all the green paint. It sends a clear message that bicyclists are welcome, whatever the car people think of that! Also, a block down from where you took that picture there is a zone where the bicyclists are protected from the cars by a curb. I’d say San Jose is getting a lot more bike friendly. 🙂


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