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There are several places in town where a street is labeled as having a bike lane, but that bike lane also seems to be something else (often a parking lane). Ambiguity seems to be a key element, and whenever there’s ambiguity, motorists and bicyclists are likely going to see the same location through two very different sets of eyes, which is the perfect set up for generating conflict.

I hope to do a series of these posts, but I’m going to start with one of my pet peeve “not really a bike lane” spots from Cherry street.

The intersection of Cherry and Mason is an accident waiting to happen. You have tourists picking up bikes at the transit center just a block south and pedaling over either to the Museum of Discovery or to the bike trail. You have a pedestrian cross walk that motorists are very good about stopping at if they’re headed west, but they often refuse to stop at if they’re headed east. (And if you have the audacity to try to cross in front of them, they may well try to nick your heels as they race around you the moment they think their vehicle will fit.) And on top of all that, you’ve got a train curving it’s way just outside the intersection just to keep things spicy.

What a perfect place to put an ambiguous bike lane.

I first noticed the ambiguity in January of 2013. This is Cherry Street, looking west. Daz Bog, the bike trail, and the Museum of Discovery are to the right.

I first noticed the ambiguity in January of 2013. This is Cherry Street, looking west. Daz Bog, the bike trail, and the Museum of Discovery are to the right.

The “bike lane” sign to the right seems to indicate that the white stripe is the boundary of the bike lane. I would assume it’s meant to indicate the left boundary of the lane, which means that bikes are expected to squish directly into the door zone of the cars that are parked on Cherry.

September 2013

September 2013

The wider the vehicle, the smaller the bike lane becomes. Given that this is just yards away from a Daz Bog coffee shop, there’s a fairly high turnover rate for vehicles that park here. Which means people will be getting into and out of their vehicles fairly frequently, providing just that many more opportunities for a cyclist to get doored.

Lest you think that perhaps these vehicles are parking illegally in the bike lane, let this next photo but that thought to rest.

November 2014

November 2014

Though there’s no cars in this last photo, there has been some new infrastructure added. Note the addition of a handicapped parking space, very clearly labeled, within the exact same area where the “bike lane” has been marked. So which is this? A bike lane? Or a parking lane? Every motorist will look at that white stripe and know for a fact that it indicates where they should park. And every bicyclist will look at that white line, and the bike sign to the right, and assume that’s where they’re supposed to ride.

Clearly the City holds a belief that two objects can indeed occupy the same space at the same time.

I invite you to let me know about your favorite not-really-a-bike-lane spots around town and I might put them into a future “Bike lane? or not?” post. You can either send me your photos, or just let me know the location and I’ll pedal on over.