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I wrote recently about bike lanes that are also, simultaneously, parking areas. I’ve also written about the problem when parking is the default use of a lane. Both of these problems are apparent in today’s “Bike lane? or not?” section of street where the lane is far too skinny to contain both biking and parking, but conflicting signage remains.

Does this look like a bike lane to you?

Does this look like a bike lane to you?

If the goal is to have a bike lane along this block of Howes, then the parking needs to be removed. If the parking is more important (which is quite likely given that this section of street provides parking not only for the Larimer County Courthouse just across the street, but also for St. Joseph’s school, Mary’s Closet, and other programs run by the church) then there should be sharrows here, rather than signage that indicates a bike lane.

Another option would be to remove the center turn lane on this street. There is not a high enough traffic volume on this street that it would be a significant problem to not have a left turn lane.

The fact that there is only one white stripe, indicating where one traffic lane ends, makes it seem as if everything to the right is for parking. Which makes motorists more comfortable with taking up the full width of the area rather than trying to park to the far right to leave rooms for an unstriped bike lane.

The fact that there is only one white stripe of paint to the left of these vehicles makes it seem as if everything to the right is for parking. Which makes motorists more comfortable with taking up the full width of the lane rather than trying to park to the far right to leave room for the unstriped bike lane.

As updating and maintenance is performed on streets such as this one, signage and striping should be re-evaluated to make sure that bicyclists are not being encouraged to ride in the door zone or on the painted white line. Ambiguous areas such as this one reinforce the belief that the needs of the motorist supercede the safety needs of the bicyclist. When both are “allowed” the motorist always wins out, the bicyclist is left feeling like a second class citizen, and conflicts are destined to happen.