Monday, July 4, 2011

Hillsborugh Avenue Bike Lane Suffers Shrinkage Problem

I bike on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa all the time because there is a decent bike lane from Central Avenue to the Veterans Highway, about a five-mile stretch. But here's a small segment of the bike lane on eastbound Hillsborough Avenue right before Florida Avenue that shrinks in width from about four feet to one foot.

Check it out -- and the car that pops out of a side parking lot. I saw the car and was preparing to stop even before he jumped into the lane.


Donny said...

That car's driver is lucky you're nice. I probably would have hit them. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Passing traffic on the right is not a good idea – even if they are stopped. It's too bad the new mandatory bike lane-use law tempts cyclists into making exactly that decision. Thank goodness there are none of these accursed 'facilities' where I bike. Vive le owning the lane (when you need to).

Plochman said...

What is the rule for this Alan. "Anonymous" infered that its wrong to pass stopped cars so I would likie to know what is correct. Is it ok to pass stopped cars or should we stop at the end of the longest line as if we were a car and move up when the cars move up. Watching the video, I say the car driver is an a hole BUT if you were supposed to be in line and not moving forward, then this would be a mute point. Please clearify what the law states in this case. Me personally, I would have probably done what you did and just chalk it up to another close call.

Donny said...

"Anonymous" is taking a hard-line "vehicular cycling" stance -- the belief that bicycles are cars and should behave exactly the same as them (just slower) and that bicycle lanes and other things which set cyclists apart (even if it is to improve their safety, etc.) are bad. I understand the vehicular cycling mentality, but in this case I disagree with the application.

Absent a law stating otherwise (there isn't one as far as I can tell), bicycles are allowed to pass on the right in the same circumstances as cars, which are described here: -- basically, as long as you can get by them without going off the pavement, you're legally fine.

For more information, check out this article:

As for safety, if you are alert and traffic is stopped, you are probably fine passing on the right (I do it all the time and have only been knicked once, about 5 years ago -- no damage or injury). Just be careful of cars that try to use the bike lane as a turn lane.

Anonymous said...

Hi, 'anon' again.
Donny is correct; it is definitely legal for the cyclist to pass stopped traffic on the right hand side while in a cycle lane. The motorist that pulled out in front of Alan was in the wrong by failing to yield right of way. Motorists are supposed to treat a bike lane like a discrete lane of traffic, just as they would a full sized one that accommodates motor traffic. My personal experience is that some segment of motorists fails to make this distinction and treats bike lanes as a curb extension and nothing more. I have had enough close calls by way of near-right-hooks that I hesitate to use bike lanes, particularly near intersections. The offending motorists had no ill will, they simply weren't aware that someone was using the lane. You have to negotiate and interact with motorists more when taking this approach (taking the lane at intersections), but at least you have the assurance that you are not in a vulnerable position for an unexpected right hook.
We must all ride with safety, legality and courtesy as our objectives! Some balance these variables differently according to their experience and ability. Every road and every rider is different. That's ok. Best to all!

PS – Just this morning, Mighk published a very lucid article that addresses some of these issues with candor and humility. If Alan wishes, perhaps readers of Bicycle Stories will benefit from this perspective.