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Category Archives: Bike Lane FAIL

Bike Lane FAIL: Painful Squeeze in Mountain View

Another busy intersection, another re-design, another vanishing bike lane. Caltrain wanted to keep cars from getting caught on the tracks when the signal turns red. The county engineers wanted to push more cars through the intersection. Too bad no one considered what happens to people riding in the bike lane.

Rengstorff at Caltrain

The county’s plan shoehorned in a second left turn lane, which meant shoving the right lane further to the right, squeezing out the bike lane and forcing bikes and cars into an unexpected merge. Caltrain may be happy and the drivers turning left may be happy, but the right lane is now a painful squeeze for everyone. Is it too much to ask the traffic engineers to consider bike safety along with rail safety and vehicle throughput?

When the plans for this crossing and the crossing at Moffett were presented to the city council transportation committee, I spoke at the meeting and complained. The city engineer basically said it was the county’s design and there was little the city could do. I knew the changes would be bad, but they’re worse than I expected.

Location: Rengstorff Avenue at the Caltrain tracks/Central Expressway, Mountain View, California, USA.

 
19 Comments

Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Rack FAIL: Stinky Situation in Mountain View

You can tell at a quick glance how much a business values its customers that arrive by bike. When there’s a sturdy bike rack next to the main door it says, “Welcome, we love you!” When the bike rack is far from the door, falling apart or hidden away it says, “You’re not important customers.” And when the bike rack tucked in an back alley or next to smelly garbage dumpsters the message is clear, “Our valued customers don’t ride bikes.”

Dumpster Bike Rack

To that I say, “Your attitude stinks, just like your garbage.” Time for me to find a new noodle shop.

Location: Luu Noodle at San Antonio Shopping Center, Mountain View, California, USA

 
12 Comments

Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Lane SUCCESS! A Safer Route to Middle School

Boy, am I jealous of the kids who go to JL Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto. When I was their age I was stuck on the school bus with annoying boys who called me giraffe (I was tall) or gorilla (my arms were hairy) depending on their mood. There was no safe way for me to ride my bicycle the 1.5 short miles to school.

Palo Alto recently repaved Cowper Street, a key route to JLS Middle School, and marked it with super-sized sharrows and an virtual bike lane through the intersections. The markings make it very clear that bikes own the lane and don’t need to weave in and out of cars parked along the curb.

Cowper Super Slot Sharrows

The new bike markings are just the latest in a well-organized effort to get more kids biking and walking to school in Palo Alto, turning around the sharp decline that started 30 years ago. In 2000, only 17% of JLS students biked to school. By 2010, the rate was up to 45%, roughly the same rate as in 1985.

And the success is not limited to JLS Middle School. Overall, over half of the students at Palo Alto’s three middle schools bike or walk to school. Way to go kids! And way to go City of Palo Alto!

Location: Cowper Street near East Meadow Drive in Palo Alto, California, USA

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Lane FAIL: The Case of the Vanishing Bike Lane

The young woman pedaled slowly across town, the sun warming her back and offsetting the morning chill of a California winter day. She stops at the signal and waits in the bike lane, counting the seconds until she can cross the dreaded San Antonio Road. Little does she know the danger awaiting her on the other side.

Crossing San Antonio Road

The signal changes to green and she pushes hard on the pedals to cross the intersection as quickly as possible. First she’s riding alongside a vintage Chevy, then a sedan. As she reaches the center line she discovers the lane ahead has room for either her, or the pickup that’s now beside her. What will she do?

Normally I’d be excited by this newly painted bike lane on my former commute route. But when a bike lane vanishes without warning and forces people to merge in an intersection, it’s a bike lane FAIL.

Location: W Middlefield Road at San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, California, USA

 
18 Comments

Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Lane FAIL: Bike Lanes That Stink in San Jose

There’s something rotten about the bike lanes in San Jose’s Hensley district. Every Monday morning the hard-won, lovely wide bike lanes are taken over by garbage bins. City of San Jose, please clean up your act! The comfort and safety of people riding bikes should rate higher than what you send off to the dump.

Stream of Traffic Wide

Location: N 3rd Street near E Empire Street, San Jose, California, USA.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Lane FAIL: Old School ‘Rithmetic in Menlo Park

Johnny and Jenny need a 5 foot bike lane to ride their bikes to school. Sam needs 7 feet to park his small car plus a 5 foot buffer to unload his son for school drop-off. Melissa needs a 5 foot lane to ride her bike to work. Teacher Jessica needs 7 feet to park her SUV during school hours. Wilbur needs 10 feet to park his RV on the street all day, every day. And car traffic needs 12 foot travel lanes in each direction.

If Laurel Street in Menlo Park is 42 feet wide, how do you divide the roadway so everyone gets what they need? Or should some people’s needs get higher priority than others?

Bike Commute Kids

The northbound bike lane on Laurel Street is filled with kids and parents on their way to school every morning.

There’s a neighborhood meeting on Thursday, October 3 in Menlo Park where they’ll discuss prohibiting parking all day in the morning-only bike lane near Nativity School, a proposal that’s expected to be unpopular with the school’s parents and teachers. If you think safe bike travel is more important than parking, please speak up at this event or contact Jesse Quirion at (650) 330‐6744 or jtquirion at menlopark.org.

Location: Laurel Street at Oak Grove, Menlo Park, California, USA.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Rack FAIL: The Ankle Biter Torture Rack

I saved the best for last. This is the torturous bike rack that inspired the whole series. I had seen the Jaws of Death all over town and never used it properly. I had seen the Throat Choke and never tried it out. But this Ankle Biter was so perplexing I was compelled to figure it out. It wasn’t obvious to me, or painless for Zella.

Ankle Biter

The shopping center clearly made an attempt to serve bicyclists by putting in so many racks in a little covered area with landscaping. Too bad they’re way in the back of the parking lot next to the garbage dumpsters.

Location: Menlo Station Shopping Center, Menlo Park, California, USA

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 6, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Rack FAIL: The Throat Choke Torture Rack

The Jaws of Death isn’t the only old-school torture rack in my ‘hood. At the beautifully bucolic Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, next to the delightfully shady picnic area and between the espalier apple orchard and the sapling hut the kids love to play inside, there it is: the Throat Choke Torture Rack. It looks sinister, doesn’t it?

Throat Choke

The Gamble Garden in the only place I’ve seen this particular model, although Richard of Cyclelicious has seen them in action in the Santa Cruz area and found it alive and well for sale on the internet. Cities, if you’re tempted to buy this model, don’t. It doesn’t fit large tube bikes and terrorizes ones that have the misfortune of fitting.

Like the Jaws of Death, we never locked up to the Throat Choke as intended. It seemed too cruel to subject beloved bikes to such cruel treatment. Once again, Zella takes one for the team and submits to the torture.

How would you compare this rack to the Jaws of Death? Which torture would you prefer for your bike?

Location: Elizabeth Gamble Garden Picnic Area, Palo Alto, California, USA.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Rack FAIL: The Jaws of Death Torture Rack

I’m all for creative ingenuity and building a better mouse trap. I probably wouldn’t appreciate living in Silicon Valley otherwise. And bike theft is rapidly increasing in the area. But when I see attempts to make bike racks more secure that are more like instruments of bike torture, I scratch my head: Who designed these things?

Behold the Jaws of Death. I see these racks all over town, outside shopping centers, movie theaters, strip malls and government buildings built or remodeled in the 1970-1980s. The bike’s frame and wheels are secured in its jaws while an open-ended cage blocks thieves from cutting your ordinary school locker padlock.

Jaws of Death Whole Bike Wide

As many times as I’ve seen these racks, I’ve never attempted to use them as intended. Why subject my bike to the torture of jamming metal rods in its spokes? My cable and U-locks don’t work with the little lock cage either.

Then the other day I talked to an old-time bike commuter who said he likes them. So I grabbed my old mountain bike, bought a padlock and took the old-school racks for a spin. They worked much better than expected.

Although it seems secure, I’m not sure I’ll regularly subject my nicer bikes to this torturous rack. Would you?

Location: Bloomingdale’s at Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, California, USA.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Lane SUCCESS! Hedding Street in San José

Breathing room. That’s what you get when a city gives you more than a skinny strip for riding your bike. And when the city paints it a bold green that make its purpose clear, the city gets new riders in return. Like Sarah, who rode with me on the newly minted Hedding Street bike lanes. With the wide lane, it was easy to chat.

Sarah and her girlfriend recently bought new bikes to ride on the rapidly expanding network of buffered bike lanes near their home in San José’s Japantown. Before the lanes she never considered bicycling. In fact, she hadn’t ridden a bike in 15 years. “The fast cars were too intimidating,” she said. Now when her girlfriend rides to work on Hedding Street and the Guadalupe River Trail, Sarah goes along for the ride. “We rock climb together. Now we can ride bikes together too,” she explained. Bravo, San José!

Sarah Thumbs Up

The Hedding Street green lanes run from the Guadalupe River Trail east to 17th Street (near Hwy 101). The lanes provide a critical east-west route that complements existing north-south bike lanes in central San José.

Location: Hedding Street between Guadalupe River Trail and 17th Street, San José, California, USA.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 
 
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