Why are new Highway 305 bike lanes squeezed at intersections?

The in basket: Karl Hadley e-mails to say that on Highway 305, newly widened, “bicyclists enjoy a nice shoulder for safe travel, until they reach intersections where curbing is installed right up to the car traffic lane, making it necessary for the bicyclists to either jeopardize their safety by entering the car traffic lane, or negotiate pedestrians by using the curb ramp to ride up on the sidewalk.
“This happens on both sides of the road at the intersection for Central Market and 305, and at the turn off to Poulsbo Village, where a right-turn lane appears without any bicycle-designated path, he wrote.”
The out basket: Michele Britton, a state highway engineer in Tumwater, fielded this one.
“The design areas you are referring to are designed as multi-use shoulders and meet design standards.
“The philosophy behind the design is explained below:
“The thought process behind bicycle lanes dedicated to bicycles only is that they are to be treated just like vehicle lanes and that a vehicle in the adjacent lane is not supposed to turn in front of the occupant (the same as if we had two travel lanes, the left lane would not turn right onto a side street from the left lane). 
(But) the lanes you refer to are not dedicated bicycle lanes.
“The case for multi-use shoulders is different. Drivers in vehicle lanes are not as accustomed to looking for vehicles or bicycles proceeding along a shoulder and are more likely to turn in front of them. The sidewalk placement helps deter these conflicts. By placing the sidewalk partially into the shoulder, it forces bicycles out closer to the lane to partially merge in with other crossing traffic, increasing visibility and awareness, thus lessening the possibility of those vehicles turning in front of the bicycles,” she said.
“Reducing the shoulder width at intersections also reduces pedestrian exposure in crosswalks and discourages motorists from using the shoulder to bypass the through traffic.”

2 thoughts on “Why are new Highway 305 bike lanes squeezed at intersections?

  1. Good reasoning for the disappearing bike lane at the intersections. As a biker, you don’t want to open yourself up to possible “right-hook” situations. By merging into the traffic lane you prevent this very thing.

    It makes sense, however it takes a bit of practice to safely merge into the travel lane, specially when cars are whizzing by at high speed.

    Something you can do is to begin your merge ahead of the intersection, this makes cars slow down so that you can safely merge and pass the intersection, then get safely back into the bike lane.

    Good luck !

  2. WooHoo! I started reading this, thinking the answer would be some pie-in-the-sky thing from DOT, but this makes sense!
    Regular dedicated bike lanes seem, to the bicyclist, to give him the right-of-way over the two-ton (or 20-ton) vehicle, which often cannot see him!
    This configuration will force him to merge with traffic briefly in order to remain safer.

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