Saturday, November 22, 2014

We are all so proud of Santa Cruz County's first green bike lane (a death trap painted green is still a death trap)

In the late nineties, I used to make this bicycle commute east on Soquel towards Aptos Village.

On the approach of Soquel Village, I used to move out of the bike lane into the general traffic lane at this intersection. Bicycle speeds down the hill easily approached speeds of "rush hour" motoring traffic. Recently the bike lane has been painted green. With solid lines at the intersection instead of dashed lines.

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The reason I moved out of the bike  lane into the general traffic lane was to avoid getting doored by motorists opening their doors into the bike lane.  Soquel Village is a commercial area with a high turnover of parked cars.  A coffee shop, The Ugly Mug, is on the corner of Soquel and Porter. I'd estimate that if I hadn't moved over to the left, I would have been hit by an opening car door on this block a few times a month.

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This video illustrates how painting a door zone bike lane green doesn't make it less deadly.

The newscasters describe getting killed by an opening car door as some sort of bizarre freaky thing, but it was really quite predictable.  The easiest way to avoid getting hit by a car door is to not ride in a door zone bike lane.  Ride at least 5-6 feet from parked cars.

These photos were taken on a Sunday morning instead of a weekday morning. Here's the door zone bike lane painted with magic green paint at the next intersection.

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Perhaps half of California's motorists do not understand that the law requires them to merge into the bicycle lane on approaching a right turn instead of turning across it (CVC 27171).  But I wonder if painting a bike lane green with a a solid white line instead of a dashed white line discourages motorists from obeying the law.

Added 9 January 2015:
Apparently Steve Piercy is the mastermind behind the green lanes and door zone bike lane on Soquel (

"The bike lanes are intended to make it clear to all road users where bicyclists are expected to ride when riding straight ahead. The placement of the bike lanes help make bicyclists more visible to drivers, helping drivers anticipate where bicyclists will ride."

Instead of adding sharrows on the street away from the parked cars, a door zone bike lane is added because cyclists are expected to prioritize the perceived convenience of motorists over their own safety like the good second class citizens they are.

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