I am a cyclist with over 25 years of riding on the road. I have been fortunate to have avoided contact with a vehicle; albeit, not without some close calls. A key element apart from luck has been the ability to see trouble developing and the flexibility to adjust to circumstances.
A protected bike lane runs between parked vehicles on the left and the curb, sidewalk, or shoulder on the right. Input from citizens on experimental lanes such as that on Queens Way was recently solicited.
My objective is to reach a larger audience. The basic problem with protected bike lanes similar to that on Queens Way is the limited options for bike riders to anticipate and avoid problems. There are several aspects that planners may not have considered. Sightlines for both drivers and cyclists are restricted. Passengers may be less aware of approaching cyclists prior to opening doors. Drivers are more accustomed to using mirrors or looking back to note approaching traffic. With bike lanes on the left side, or even absent bike lanes, cyclists are better posed to avoid vehicles entering from cross streets or driveways, as well as better able to observe oncoming vehicles that may be turning into streets or driveways. Cyclists often ride with others in a pace line where the abilities of a following rider to see ahead and adjust to changing conditions is further impaired in protected lanes. I might add that fighting the common headwind riding south in Squamish exacerbates the problem as riders seek a more aerodynamic position.
There is also a psychological “tunnel” effect that cyclists like me find disconcerting. I suspect drivers as well may appreciate the greater risks of an accident with a cyclist riding in a protected lane.
- Jack Hughes