Act of aggression

A site dedicated to cycling rants about Brisbane ...and a board game

Why on-road bike lanes don't work

The most obvious reason why on-road bike lanes don't work here in sunny Brisbane is that, for some odd reason, our local lawmakers diverge from Australia's agreed standardised road rules and allow cars to park in them. 

It's impossible to ride over parked cars.  Believe me, I've spent an unhealthy amount of time thinking about how I could do it.

But the real problem with on-road bike lanes everywhere is that the thin little white line dividing the allocated bike lane road space from the allocated everything-else road space doesn't magically prevent everything-else from driving over it.  Let me give an example.

Bicyclists riding along Sandgate Road are directed by lawful signage to turn off a nice wide 2 metre shoulder and divert through Nundah Village: an uphill local street which swaps between bike lane markings (bikes must ride in the bike lane unless imptracticable to do so), a bicycle awareness zone (bikes can ride anywhere on the road), a bike lane with parked cars (bikes must magically ride over the top of parked cars unless impracticalbe to do so), or nothing at all (you're on your own mate!).  The local street swaps between these various supposedly cycle friendly treatments about every 15 metres or so.  Then back again. 

At the end of this local road, after traversing a dangerous roundabout and two sets of lights that the automobiles (which are not so diverted) get to miss out on, the local road turns into an on-ramp joining back to the road the bicyclist was on in the first place.

This on-ramp has a bike lane on it, although at the moment it is covered in dirt and gravel from cement trucks and other construction vehicles (there's a huge new residential development being built on the aforesaid local road).

Twice in the last week I've almost gone under a heavy vehicle whilst riding in this bike lane (this morning it was a cement truck, last week it was a council bus). 

The problem as I see it is this. The vehicles travelling alongside the bike lane, on the other side of the littel white dividing line, are focussing on the traffic they are about to merge with.  They have already dismissed the fellow on the bicycle from their thoughts: after all he's on the other side of that little white line safe in the bike lane, right?  

The bike lane isn't incredibly wide, and vehicles whose drivers are looking for a gp to their left invariably drift a little to the right, as they inevitably travel towards the point of merge but there's no gap in traffic opening up for them.

Last week, when I realised the council bus had got about 20 inches from my shoulder and was still getting closer, the driver luckily slowed down allowing me to squeeze in front of it and to safety (there was ultimately no gap for the driver to merge). Now aware of the situation, I hung back this morning and avoided going under the rear wheels of the cement truck.

It would have been nice if the drivers - supposedly professionals in their field in both situations- had remembered me once I had disappeared from their field of vision, but it would be better still if the infrastructure didn't work on the asusmption that heavy vehicles and bicycles can safely use the same surface of road because little white lines have magical impermeability.

For the rest of the week I'll just 'take the lane' and ignore thebike lane.  This will invariably result in some wanker up my arse hitting his horn, but at least if I go under his wheels it'll be obvious that he meant it.