Category Archives: Bike Lane FAIL

Bike Rack FAIL: Bad Rack Redux at Hobee’s

First I complained about the rickety, useless bike rack at Hobee’s in Mountain View. Then I was (mostly) pleased to see they had installed a new rack. On Sunday, we discovered an ill-placed, immovable garbage can that blocks the walkway when bikes are parked. A complete FAIL that makes bikes look like the problem.

Hobees Rack 1
There’s barely room between the bikes and the garbage can for walkers, and no room for the family with a child in a wheelchair that walked up just as we finished locking the bikes. We slid the bikes over to let them pass.

The good news is that when I reported it to the manager, she came out and looked carefully at the situation and agreed it was a problem. Anyone willing to guess what their solution will be? Will they move the garbage can, move the bike rack or removed the rack completely?

Location: Hobbee’s on Central Expressway at Rengstorff Avenue, Mountain View, California, USA.


Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL


Law Enforcement FAIL: Red Light, Green Light

An incident this weekend reminded me of this letter I drafted last year but never sent. I really wish I had.

Dear City of Palo Alto,

I am angry that a Palo Alto police officer did not cite the driver who ran a red light and nearly hit me on my bike. I appreciate that the officer lectured her, but that’s not enough. We need law enforcement to crack down on careless drivers that threaten others, especially vulnerable people who are walking or bicycling.

I was on West Bayshore waiting to cross Oregon Expressway in the left traffic lane. When the signal turned green, I starting crossing. I saw that a driver approaching from my left was rolling through slowly instead of stopping, so I put a foot down and yelled: “What are you doing!! You have a red light!” and pointed at the signal.

She was halfway into the intersection and less than five feet from me when she stopped. As I rolled away, I saw a police car behind her and thought: “For once they’re here to see it.” I smiled when I saw his lights come on.


From the bottom of the bike bridge I saw that the cop had pulled her over. She gave him something, probably her license and registration. He talked to her. I waited and watched for almost 10 minutes. He didn’t write a citation or warning, and she drove away. I shook my head and pedaled to work.

What’s your experience with your local law enforcement as a bicycle rider? Have they been helpful in protecting you from aggressive or careless drivers? Or do they seem to have more sympathy for the drivers?

Location: Oregon Expressway at West Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, California. Streetview from my vantage point.


Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL, Issues & Infrastructure


Crosswalk FAIL: Skyport Drive at Guadalupe Fwy

How many buttons do you have to push to cross under this freeway? How many minutes does the crossing take? This dull video goes on and on, just like crossing this road. It’s no surprise that everyone jaywalks here.

The crosswalk connects workers like me in nearby office towers to an entrance to the Guadalupe River Trail. Fortunately, there aren’t many scofflaw pedestrians. Since there aren’t any trail signs, few even know it’s there.

Location: Skyport Drive at the Guadalupe Freeway, San Jose.

Update: I contact the City of San Jose’s Bike and Pedestrian group within their Department of Transportation. They agreed that the crosswalk signal wasn’t timed well. Unfortunately, the State of California’s DOT regulates this particular intersection so they urged me to contact them. I’ll do it after they open tomorrow.


Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL


Bike Lane FAIL: Warning! Construction Signs Ahead

Sigh. What to you call signs warning of danger that ARE the danger? From what I’ve seen lately it’s standard operating procedure all over town, despite the guidelines from the US Federal Highway Administration. I could write something clever or get fired up for a rant, but I just don’t have the energy today. Sigh.

Do construction crews ever consider putting signs off the roadway instead of in the middle of the bike lane?


Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL


Bike Path FAIL? Chicanes on the Stevens Creek Trail

Sometimes a longed for bike improvement comes with something unexpected. For years, bicyclists had to hop a curb to enter or exit the Steven Creek Trail at Evelyn Avenue in Mountain View. When the city finally installed a nice wide curb cut, they also installed chicane fences and a directive to “walk your bike.” Among the local bicycle advocates, some cried foul, others defended it, and some like me are left pondering on the fence.


What do you think? Are widely spaced chicane fences appropriate where a bike trail meets a 35 mph road?

Location: Steven’s Creek Trail at W Evelyn Avenue, Mountain View, California, USA.


Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL


Bike Lane FAIL: Sharrows on the Edge in Los Altos

Sometimes a good plan becomes a FAIL when it hits the street. The Los Altos Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) clearly advised city staff that sharrows should be centered 5 feet from the curb in a narrow lane like this stretch of 1st Street. Somehow the sharrows got shoved to the gutter, just like the cyclists will be.

Location: 1st Street between Main and State Streets, Los Altos, California, USA.

City staff, listen to your BPACs! Sharrows should instruct bicyclists where to safely position themselves in standard travel lanes, not encourage them to hug the curb and invite cars to unsafely pass them.


Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL


Bike Rack SUCCESS! Hobee’s in Mountain View

We tried something special at Hobees last weekend. It wasn’t on the menu, it was in the parking lot: a new bike rack. It was installed in an awkward location, so we couldn’t use it properly without blocking the sidewalk. And we had to move a bench to make room for our two bikes. But I’m not looking this gift horse in the mouth.

The rickety rack it replaced was so bad that it was featured in my first ever Bike Rack FAIL last year. On that trip, I politely asked the restaurant manager if there were plans to replace the rack since it was falling apart. Her smile fell into a look somewhere between irritation and resignation. She said she had asked the shopping center owner for a new rack before, but she’d ask again. She offered little hope and I had none.

But here was a new rack, most likely installed due to requests like mine. I don’t enjoy asking, but having a sturdy rack to lock up our prized bikes was worth the awkward conversation with the manager.

Have you ever requested a rack before? What was the manager’s reaction? Did it work?

Location: Hobee’s Mountain View, Central Expressway at Rengstoff Avenue, Mountain View, California, USA.


Bike Lane FAIL: Door Prize in Mountain View

Remember those funky arcade games where you slid in tokens to win prizes by rolling a ball up a ramp or squirting a water pistol into a clown’s mouth? My favorite was Whac-A-Mole where you had to guess which hole the little rodent would pop out of and quickly hit it with a mallet. Guessing which door in a line of parked cars will pop open and quickly dodging it so you don’t get hit? That’s not nearly as much fun.

Location: Rengstoff Avenue near Montecito Avenue, Mountain View, California, USA.

Transportation planners, don’t build bike lanes like this! Narrow bike lanes next to cars are traps for new riders and savvy cyclists who ride outside the bike lane to stay out of the door zone make motorists really angry.


Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL


Bike Lane SUCCESS! Newly Grateful in San José

Last week, after I posted the photo of the dangerous rain grate on Bike Lane FAIL, I tweeted to the folks in charge: “@SJ_Bikeshare The rain grate on SB Coleman at Airport Blvd is very dangerous old style. Would you please replace it?″. I expected a response, but I wasn’t holding my breath.

Lo and behold, I got a tweet in return yesterday: “Hey @ladyfleur, guess what…. New bike friendly drainage grate!”. After work I rode down to check it out myself. Works great. Thank you, Jesse Quiron, John Brazil and the San Jose DOT for the blazing fast response fixing this road hazard!


Location: Coleman Avenue at Airport Blvd, San Jose, California, USA. Special thanks to the folks at the City of San José Department of Transportation Bicycle and Pedestrian Program for resolving this problem so quickly.


Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL


Bike Lane FAIL: Grateful to Not Be Dead in San José

There’s a reason things go out of fashion. Often they just don’t work, and in some cases they’re downright painful. This dangerous style of rain grate thankfully went of of fashion in most cities in the late 1970s along with bell bottoms, tie-dye and scraggly long hair. Too bad this bike trap is still seen on the streets of San Jose.


Location: Coleman Avenue at Airport Blvd, San Jose, California, USA. Special thanks to Mark Sauerwald for alerting me to this bike lane’s dangerous rain grate.


Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL

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