The way I see it, painted cycle lanes makes cyclists feel secure, but does not create much awareness by motorists. They are mainly used on roads with a lot of traffic. Because they are painted they have sometimes hazardous layouts crisscrossing mainlanes (to turn right). The blue ones can be very slippery when wet. I really don't trust them when it is wet.
Having a curb between the road and the cycle lanes, or elevating the cycle lanes on the level of the sidewalks is much saver for cyclists, because motorists can literally not cross over them. It also forces the planners to do a good job when designing junctions. For elevated cycle lanes though, paint can help rasing the awareness of pedestrians who often got in the habit of crossing anything without looking.
What TfL needs is having their planners cycle to work, and to generally rethink their approach to pedestrians and cyclists. The fact that most pedestrian traffic light are often showing red even if no traffic is routed through them and the fact that many junctions with traffic lights for cars (even big ones) do not have pedestrian traffic lights, reeducates everyone not to care about the lights and just walk into the traffic. This is almost as much a hazard to everyone as cars (on smaller roads.with speed bumps anyway), as pedestrians can cross without warning. If this happens this obviously creates the risk of a cyclist (cycling on the far outside of the road to avoid cars) either swerving into traffic or taking a pedestrian out.
This. Like the stories of having ancient bridge designers stand under their bridges, the people designing cycling facilities should be made to use them in order to improve their safety and usability.
I think for a lot of planners having a week where they are given a cycle orienteering challenge around a set of random points in a city would be a huge benefit. Give each of them a cycle dashcam and call it a data-gathering exercise.
Take a look at e.g. https://www.innertubemap.com/ , a third-party compiled resource of off-street cycle routes in Edinburgh. What strikes you as wrong with it? The fact that it's a set of disjoint small graphs and not a proper mesh, perhaps?
More use can also be made of name-and-shame: http://wcc.crankfoot.xyz/facility-of-the-month/
> It also forces the planners to do a good job when designing junctions.
Living in Dublin, I have the opposite perspective on this.
I much prefer roads with painted lanes (or better, no cycle lanes), as having cyclists on the road necessarily makes motorists more aware of their existence (particularly when you have a lot of cyclists, so this effect increases with usage). I agree that painted lanes give more of a false sense of security to cyclists than anything (motorists will still ignore you if they can), but with segregated lanes they always ignore you.
This seems fine until you realise that well-planned segregated lanes are much more difficult to achieve (and where I live, an absolutel rarity—we have some of the most dangerously haphazard segregated lanes), and even very well-planned segregated lanes are still quite limiting in terms of cyclist movement. They lead to cycle congestion, cyclists become more of a danger to eachother, and you will always have entry/exit points which are far far more dangerous than if the cyclists had been on the road and visible all along.
On a more political level, they also reinforce the idea that roads belong to cars, and that cyclists, by using them, are invading them and should not be there.
My hope would be that segregating traffic would simplify what I need to pay attention to and I can focus more on pedestrians and other cyclists. The road sharing idea is a nice one. And TfL tried it in places, but realistically speaking it does not work out in a busy place which does not have a culture of watching out for each other.
I do agree though, that cycle lanes on street level separated by a curb from the street can be a pain. I wonder sometimes of they are made intentionally narrow and winding to slow down cyclists or if they are badly planned. Of course there are places where there is not a lot of space to give to a cycling lane. But often there is a lot of space, and it is not used.
In continental Europe cycle lanes are often on the same level as the pedestrian side walk. But I have never cycled in a large city where this is the case (except in Amsterdam for a few days). I wonder if that is a better solution or if it endangers pedestrians more.
Copenhagen tends strongly towards segregated lanes: you have to be extremely familiar with the city layout to be able to pre-empt where to enter & exit, and local cyclists come across quite aggressive if you're not constantly perfectly aware of where you're supposed to be going (and going fast enough for them). The lanes are claustrophic and hurried.
Turning at junctions works quite well (cyclists cross with traffic and loop backwards to wait to turn, rather than crossing lanes), but only with very large junctions; this doesn't scale downwards.
In the Netherlands on the other hand, road-sharing is very much the norm. The sheer number of cyclists means bad behaviour just does't seem to be an option for motorists: safety in numbers.
I think this is the real answer. I've seen "fundamentalist" behaviour from fellow cyclists, and it bothers me, but I think it's reactionary when the relationship with other road-users is strained. With growing numbers of cyclists, and shared road-space, I think this wanes. This has been my experience in Dublin anyway: nowhere near the numbers of Amsterdam, etc, but still, the numbers have significantly increased in recent years and the relationship has noticably improved (anecdotally).
I don't have to worry for my life walking on a pavement that in the next moment a cyclist may decide to go on the pavement because there is a red light on the road at full speed, or almost knock me over, going across a zebra crossing when the light is green for pedestrians. Cyclists in London seem to think they can go regardless and no rule applies to them.
It wouldn't be too surprising in such a circumstance that they don't particularly feel safer with bike lanes.
I don't think this is a numbers issue.
All I'm saying is that having more cyclists brings about marked improvement for cyclists.
For your particular example (cyclists jumping onto the pavement), this is often down to bad planning. Signals and road layouts are designed exclusively for motorists in most cities, with the question of whether it's efficient to use (not just safe) for cyclists very unlikely to even be mentioned during planning. How fast you can get from A to B in a car is a question enormouse resources are poured into, with complex models developed. The same process is rarely applied to cyclists. If cyclists could get from A to B relatively efficiently without meeting unnecessary barries along their journey, you'd find a smaller minority would be feeling the need to hop on pavements and run reds* through crowds of pedestrians.
* Though on the subject of running reds in general, there's quite a few studies advocating things like the Idaho Stop and the Parisien laws on red lights. In my experience, pedestrian outrage at this behaviour is usually exaggerated and comes down to nothing more than anger at rule-breaking for the sake of it. Accidents whereby pedestrians are injured due to cyclists running reds don't factor highly in statistics.
I was once almost hit by a car who didn't look coming from a side street in Amsterdam, the surge of cyclists behind me angrily shaking fists and yelling curses at the driver was quite something.
I think this raises an interesting point. There are cyclists and then there are cyclists. You have those people out with the kids or bumbling along on a Boris bike; and then you have power cyclists in all of the gear on a carbon framed bike averaging faster than most cars in London. While some cycle lanes are perfectly appropriate for the former, few are appropriate for the latter.
If I want to cycle fairly briskly - say 15MPH - that can't be done on cycle lanes that share a pavement. It can be done on the road.
Grade separation or hard barrier, full stop.
What we need are protected intersections; the rest of the road can be painted or segregated, I don't really care.
It really doesn't have to be much, just bollards in the middle of intersections forcing cars to make a wide right turn would be enough.
One thing that segregated lanes help immensely with is double-parking in painted bike lanes, and bus routes that weave in and out of bike lanes to make their stops.
Ideally we'd have both segregated lanes and protected intersections.
Have you really found this to be a problem? Everywhere I've lived and cycled, buses are the most predictable vehicles on the road. When they approach from behind, they leave plenty of space. They rarely go very fast. They stop often enough that you'd never get stuck behind them. Unlike a lot of other "professionally driven" vehicles, they know where they're going and don't make last-second turns. They signal their turns. Any cyclist unaware enough to be endangered by a city bus is also threatened by every other vehicle on the street.
living in a midsize US east coast city, this does not match my experience at all. city bus drivers have the same mentality as truck drivers on the interstate: I'm bigger than you so you better get out of my way. it's a common occurrence to see a city bus pull all the way over to the right for a stop, then cut across four lanes of traffic to turn left at the next light.
They _should_ be predictable, but that does not seem to be the case in my anecdotedal experience.
And regardless, why put the onus of responsibility on the bus driver when a segregated lane would solve the issue entirely?
depends on your locality. the experience i have is that because of the stops, the bus travel speed matches that of a bike. so when you are close to a bus you are passing the bus every time it stops only to be passed by the bus on the way to the next stop.
you then always have to watch out to not get in the way of passengers, or in the busses blind spots.
a totally seperate path gives me the peace of mind that i only have to worry about pedestrians and not try to avoid getting into the way of bigger vehicles.
Painting 1m wide bike lanes is just because cities don't want to take away from cars.
Painting 1m wide bike lanes is trying to eat the cake and have it. There is no free lunch.
In Berlin most bike lanes are very narrow  while in Copenhagen most bike lanes are wide enough to feel safe and have two bikes next to each other. No one cares about paint.
 ... and winding, and blocked all the time by delivery trucks, parking cars and construction sites, and taking 90 degree turns around obstacles, and full of overgrown bushes ...
Of course, a hard separation of a bike lane from the other lanes increases safety; but that cannot be expected to exist everywhere, or in most streets even.
There's a marked lane on my commute that I now ride much more carefully than the roads I use, because pedestrians are more likely to step out, and cars open doors without looking, because the lane seems to give them a false sense of safety. But with time they can learn that it should be the opposite.
I'm mostly grateful for clearly marked lanes when there's an incident and I can simply point out that yes, I do actually have a right to be riding there and they should have been looking where they're going.
I personally feel much safer in a cycle lane, even if only a painted one, simply because I don't have to worry as much about getting side-swiped by a bus. Seeing the end of a painted cycle lane is a good indication that the road ahead requires more complex navigation and will often cause me to slow down and be more cautious.
An before you down vote me - undertaking and getting hit causes 90% (aprox) of the fatal casualties in London.
Cyclists (in a bike lane or not) undertaking heavier vehicles certainly are involved in a lot of serious accidents. However it's a very twisted view of reality to say that this causes accidents. The proximate cause is the heavy vehicles turning left or pulling to the left without regard for the cyclist in their blind spot.
I go really slow near pedestrians / densely populated areas, and I try to minimize danger (think a child getting out of a building suddenly). Before it gets inconvenient or dangerous, I dismount.
I know this can mean a fine, and I am aware that this can put some pedestrians at risk of bruising (again, I am careful, respectful and slow when I go on the sidewalk). But between that and risking death-by-car, well, the choice is simple.
Edit: also, where I live (northeastern US) the roads have craters like Beirut in the 80s. Cars have problems on them, so cyclists ride on the sidewalk rather than swerve all over the road to find a path that won’t shred your rims / tires.
... endangering pedestrians.
In truth, you only see this in large urban core areas, but in most places, even the suburbs, people don't walk anywhere - mainly because in many cases, there's nothing nearby to walk to.
That isn't to say nobody walks, but such people are few and far between. Usually, when you see someone on the sidewalk, it's either a skateboarder, a bicyclist, or someone in a powered mobility chair.
This does, of course, vary based on the population and geographical makeup of the area (and weather), but usually, again, the only time you see more than a few people walking on the sidewalk, it's within an urban core area.
Also - speaking on the weather topic - here in Phoenix, Arizona, we don't typically have many walkers on sidewalks in the downtown area, in the summertime, because the heat is extremely brutal (even with shade). At one time, it was also a year-round thing, because there wasn't much to do downtown (and shops closed early), but things have changed in recent years (mainly due to the install of light rail).
But it’s a false equivalency to compare the two: a bike vs pedestrian accident usually ends in bumps and scrapes with the cyclist getting the worse end of the bargain. A car vs bike accident can easily leave you permanently disabled or worse (with a very high frequency of hit-and-runs).
Absolutely. Should probably drive your car on it for that reason.
when I ride on the sidewalk, it is in a small town or suburban setting where there is virtually no one on the sidewalk (if it even exists) and fast SUVs and crossovers in the street. in this situation, I usually just pedal a couple times and then coast twenty feet until the bike won't stay up. if I see a pedestrian I get off and stop until they pass me. I really don't think this should be illegal.
I find that hard to believe. A bike can easily move at a walking speed among the pedestrians, while a car would never drive at a bike speed unless forced to.
This is a losing strategy for people who actually ride bikes, the correct one is to lower speed limits.
I do not think that this is going to cut it. On a good day I easily do 30kph on a good road (that's why I prefer the painted lanes, btw., they tend to give you access to paved roads). With wind, or exhaustion, or any number of reasons, that speed can drop downwards to 20kph. Now I am definitely not the most well-trained person on the streets, but I am among the faster cyclists. So there are many that can only go about 15kph or even slower.
So what speed limit would you actually pick? 20 would slow me down on my bike (I presume you do not belong to that minority that believes traffic rules do not apply to bikes), 30 would leave lots of slower cyclists behind.
In an ideal world, city roads with two lanes would be converted as follows: Speed limit of 60 on the broader left lane, with a minimum speed of 40 or a strict "no bikes" policy. A 2m cycle priority lane on the right, cars may use it but at most 30kph and have to leave it when overtaking. Lanes separated by engravings in the pavement that make noise. Maybe even by some kerbs. Parking on that right lane, in particular deliveries, should be a serious offence.
This way, in the case of serious congestion, cars can also take the right lane (I do not see any reason to demand a free road for any party in traffic), but will naturally use the left lane in better conditions.
This should be seconded by clear paths and traffic lights to turn left from that right lane and to turn right from that left lane.
Personally, I don't see much reason for speed limits to apply to bikes, or at least, for a speed limit intended for cars to apply to bikes. The two classes of vehicles have different concerns.
No posted limit. What is safe and reasonable it is left to the road user's discretion. If you want people to slow then clog up the road with all sort of "traffic calming" measures.
The Netherlands is as good as it because they insisted on the fundamental right to security, safety and convenience of all the people to use public space.
Accepting a narrow, little painted lane where you cannot dawdle and chat two-abreast and have to stop at a novel intersection design every few hundred meters is not progress. It's a step away from a reasonable cycling environment.
Cycling organizations in the USA are dominated by well-organized lobbyists from the bicycle retail industry and their hangers-on.