Sunday, May 3, 2015

Staying Alive On Alta Drive West of Rampart Blvd.

Ah yes, bicycle lanes.

Mainstream government folks who want to improve bicycling love bicycle lanes.

The vehicular bicyclists do not not favor them, arguing many are poorly designed, marginalize bicyclists and place them in positions on the roads that could get them struck by motorists.

I bike all kinds of bicycles and my view on infrastructure is also based on the buffet approach. In the appropriate places and contexts, a paved trail, a protected bike lane, a plain old bike lane and the taking of the lane all have their deployments -- IF they are designed correctly and placed in the right setting.

Which brings me to a two-mile stretch of Alta Drive in Las Vegas west of Rampart Blvd.

This is a suburban stretch of roadway in upscale Summerlin where Alta is FIVE lanes -- two in each direction and one center turn lane.

Yet, with all this right-of-way, the bicycle lanes are very narrow along this two-mile stretch. I would consider taking the lane because the bike lanes are so narrow but the cars routinely move at 50 mph on this stretch and I don't believe it's safe for me to be in a traffic lane when cars are moving so fast.

I haven't measured the bike lane's width, but I question whether they are at least four feet wide, which I understand is the minimum width for a "bike lane."

As a result of this narrow bike lane, I get buzzed by motorists all the time travelling in the right lane who fail to move over.

So, in response to being buzzed I now simply hold a stick of three feet from my left handlebar grip and create my own space on the road so that motorists don't buzz me or come close to striking me.

As a result of my three foot stick, my experience is that  motorists now drive around me and move over and no longer buzz me and violate the three-foot buffer law.

As you can see, the cars now give me the space I need to not be hit.

Road cyclists might not think this is a big deal because their handlebars are more narrow than the straight handlebar on my Surly Pugsley that I use to ride this stretch. I find cars routinely pass the left edge of my Pugsley fattie handlebar by less than three feet.

I don't understand why there are so many traffic lanes on this stretch of Alta because the number of cars I see regularly on this road hardly justifies five lanes.

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