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New Shoal Creek Report #1

I'm going to try to bike home on Shoal Creek (at least from Anderson to 41st) once a month or so to track the results of the debacle. I plan on executing a polite but firm passing manuever out of the "shared lane" whenever passing a parked car, since there is insufficient space to safely pass a parked car in the space provided (even if you know ahead of time that the vehicle is empty). This passing manuever is likely to generate conflict with through motorists ("conflict" in this sense not meaning emotional or physical but simply that the through motorist behind me will have to slow down and wait for me to pass - although on many occasions on the pre-striped street, the motorist did in fact get angry enough to honk or swerve).

I made my first trip (post-stripe) yesterday (Monday).

The striping is done, but the islands are just getting started - post holes have been cut, and some markings made, but that's it.

First impressions:

  • When no cars are parked, this lane is really wide. Wider than the usable shoulder on Loop 360.
  • Cars are going to try to use this as a lane, at least the way it's striped now. When you're turning onto Shoal Creek, it's not altogether clear where you should go.
  • Few parking conflicts so far; most of the vehicles that were parked Monday night were parked on the northbound side. I passed four or five parked vehicles on my stretch, and only once did my passing manuever cause a conflict with a through motorist (and this one was polite).
  • When a small car is parked near the curb, there is enough room to pass in the lane, if I could be 100% positive that the car was unoccupied. However, with larger vehicles (SUVs/trucks) this is not true. Also, one of the two cars was parked far enough away from the curb (you get up to 18 inches legally) that it might as well have been a fire engine.

Verdict so far: Not enough data. Far more vehicles were parked northbound; I don't know why southbound was so comparatively empty yesterday. (Perhaps this side was striped last?).

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Bicycling in Austin , I Told You So , The Shoal Creek Debacle , When Neighborhoods Go Bad

Comments

A few responses and observations of my own.

- My wife, a Class B cyclist, said that she felt more secure in the lane and that she worried less when cars were overtaking her.

- The wide lanes are nice now. It will be interesting to see how they function once the curb extensions have been installed.

- I have encountered only one conflict, so far. I approached a parked SUV from behind at the same time that a runner approached from the front. Because the runner ran up to the bumper before stepping around, he did not see me and I did not see him until I was already passing the rear bumper. I had to swerve out into the travel lane to avoid a collision, allowing him use of the lane.

- I have not observed any drivers that had problem understanding where they should drive. It is pretty clear that cars belong between the yellow stripes in the middle of the road and the bright white stripe marking the bike/ped/parking lane. The curb extensions should make this even clearer.

- I have seen only a few drivers who drifted across the white line.

- The narrower travel lane for cars appears to be calming traffic. We will see if this continues over time.

Jeb

Jeb,

To clarify your first comment: was your wife comparing to the unstriped conditions we've had for about 4 years now, or to the old bike lanes with parking in them (which were 6 or 7 feet wide)?

The old bike lanes were still the widest in the city (i.e. I don't think anybody complained about their width) - they just had cars parked in them every so often.

I believe to the unstriped conditions. I can't even remember what it was like 4+ years ago with the previous stripes.

Jeb