The “Keep Fort Collins Great” (KFCG) sales tax provided $7.25 million in 2013 to repave many of our streets. Repaving requires re-striping and that is allowing our Streets Department to bring many bike lanes up to standard, especially at intersections.
Bike lanes should be striped at intersections where right turning cars should use the bike lane as a turn lane. Bicycles should merge left into the travel lane to avoid conflicts with those vehicles.
Bringing bike “lanes up to standard,” means correcting the notion that bikes should keep to the right no matter what. First and second generation bike lanes were designed to keep bikes out of the road and as far to the right as possible. This resulted in a misunderstanding that bikes don’t belong in car lanes and that cars don’t belong in the bike lane when they often do (when turning right, for example).
These early bike lanes created built in conflicts between cars and bikes that we still live with. KFCG has allowed us to begin to eliminate those conflicts as on Remington Street where bike lane striping often runs the length of each block to the next intersection. This puts a cyclist, who stays in the bike lane to the right of right turning cars at every intersection. New bike lane striping turns to dashed lines before the intersection. This is a reminder to both cyclists and motorists that a right turning car should merge into the bike lane and a cyclist continuing straight should merge left into the travel lane.
Dashed lines that delineate bike lanes at intersections offer a reminder to all road users that making a right turn across a bike lane is illegal and dangerous. It also reminds cyclists that it is illegal and dangerous to pass a car on the right, contrary to popular belief.
These conflicts raise another question on streets where we see “share the road” signs. What does that mean, anyway? We have something like twenty-seven “share the road” signs in Fort Collins on College Avenue between Laurel and Cherry Streets, on East Prospect Ave., along Riverside Ave. and on Horsetooth Road where it crosses College Ave. To me “share the road” means that I should occupy the lane and share the road single file with SUVs, delivery trucks and all other traffic. But I am sure that to some motorists it means, “move to the right so I can squeeze by.” Fact is, these lanes are only eleven to twelve feet wide and are not wide enough to share side-by-side.
Bike Delaware has addressed the “share the road” question by asking the Delaware Dept. of Transportation to quit using this particular sign and to substitute, instead, a simple cautionary sign depicting a bicycle or by substituting a symbol of a bike with the words “may use full lane.” Both of these signs are allowed and both are unambiguous, unlike the “share the road sign.” Maybe our streets department should rethink our use of “share the road” signs in favor of “may use full lane” signs.
For a photo essay on Fort Collins bike lane conflicts visit: http://tinyurl.com/FoCoBikeLanes