Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

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Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby Steve_F » Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:44 pm

Hi everyone. Long time lurker, first time poster here.

I recently had a near miss at a roundabout near my house. The single laned road has a bike lane that ends just before a roundabout. I was planning to turn left at the roundabout.

Normally I'd get myself into the middle of the lane to prevent people trying to squeeze past me in the roundabout, but on this day there was a stream of traffic behind me and I was unable to do so. As I reached the roundabout a car squeezed in next to me and took the corner with me. I realized it was going to happen and was ready for it, but it wasn't a good move by the motorist. I briefly thought about chasing down the motorist, but I just thought aloud "good move", threw my arms in the air and let them go.

In thinking about it afterwards, I realized that the motorist actually had no idea that I was turning. I do generally indicate my intention to turn, but on that turn I didn't (I don't like to do it when there are cars behind me and I haven't claimed the lane, as I find it can give them an invitation to turn the corner with me -like what happened). Had I actually been going straight through, I am not sure what would have happened (I did see the turn indicator on the car, so I might have been quick enough to realize I had to turn).

Anyway, I later also thought about what could have said to the motorist if I had chased them down. What road rule would I be able to say that they broke (apart from just being inconsiderate)? I was thinking failing to (zip) merge correctly, but then it hit me. This particular bike lane ends with a tapered broken line - the motorist could argue that as my lane ends and I have to cross a "lane end" or "give way" line, I must give to all traffic in the other lane (i.e. all cars).

Here is the intersection:
http://www.nearmap.com/?ll=-35.048497,138.583817&z=20&t=h&nmd=20120201
or
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Glenalvon+Drive,+Flagstaff+Hill,+South+Australia,+Australia&hl=en&ll=-35.048566,138.584102&spn=0.001357,0.002411&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=42.85226,79.013672&oq=glenalvon+dri&hnear=Glenalvon+Dr,+Flagstaff+Hill+South+Australia+5159,+Australia&t=h&z=19
I was travelling east along Black road (left to right) and turning north onto Glenalvon. You can see other bike lanes in this intersection also end with a tapered line.

So does this tapered line actually mean bicycles should give way to all cars when these lanes end? I think technically yes, it does. Surely a zip merge is safer for everyone.

I also wandered if these are not marked correctly. I found other end bike lines in this council area that are similarly marked, but also found many in other areas where the lane just ends, therefore the zip merge rules should apply. (Next time I'm out I'll pay closer attention to this).

Indeed, I found this document from the SA government on lane marking:
http://www.dpti.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/40257/DOCS_AND_FILES-2244015-v2-Pavement_Marking_Manual_December_2010.pdf
The end bike lane examples in this (particular page C-17 and the roundabout example on page C-30) the lanes just end with no taper line.

I'm interested if other people have come across this. Should I complain to the council? Any thoughts or comments welcome.

Thanks
Steve
Last edited by Steve_F on Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by BNA » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:13 pm

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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby Oxford » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:13 pm

haven't looked yet, but based on what you are saying, yes your lane ends, you give way. so what most of us would do is get out of the lane safely early and take the main lane as you are entitled to do. big arm out to the right make it clear. then make the left turn.
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby zero » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:28 pm

I found it on googlemaps - nearmaps requires signups.

Anyway, the legal effect of the dotted lines requires you to give way when merging. So yes, the road designer intended to make you stop and maximise the speed differential between you and traffic coming over your shoulder in a narrowing section of roadway, on the offside of the vehicle where vehicles will tend to begin to aim at the apex :roll:

I would change lanes 50m before it if there was significant traffic. That means beginning to make the merge decision at or before the bus stop, and locating a gap, and using my arm to make it clear I was leaving the bicycle lane - and not chopping near the front of a motorist at all. I wouldn't make the merge or stop at the end where its thinning already.

Most of the bicycle lane is usable, as it doesn't look like the parking is regularly full, and there are long sections of no parking.
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby Steve_F » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:13 pm

Sorry about the nearmap reference. I forgot about the signup (you can view without signup, you just have to agree to terms). Here is a google map of the intersection.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Glenalvon+Drive,+Flagstaff+Hill,+South+Australia,+Australia&hl=en&ll=-35.048566,138.584102&spn=0.001357,0.002411&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=42.85226,79.013672&oq=glenalvon+dri&hnear=Glenalvon+Dr,+Flagstaff+Hill+South+Australia+5159,+Australia&t=h&z=19

I don't usually have an issue here and find I can move into the car lane without an issue. But this particular day it didn't work for me, perhaps going earlier would help.

But my point is more the safety side of ending bike lanes with tapered lines which in effect mean we shouldn't zip merge with traffic. I am interested if it is common or if the council is not marking these correctly. The document on line marking suggests that it shouldn't be done that way.
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby zero » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:34 pm

No - what it is doing is putting the legal onus on the cyclist to make the merge safely.

You can zip merge all you like, if you move directly into the path of a car and cause an accident, you'll be the one that is legally responsible. ie the design of the infrastructure makes most likely accidents the cyclists fault. its basically a design that maximises the speed differentials and makes it harder to ride a bicycle on the road than necessary.

The last 50m of the bicycle lane should have a dotted line. There should be 2 or 3 merge arrows painted, and the last 5m-10m of the cyclelane should be a painted island, ie soft if a bicycle goes onto it, but essentially making the point for all concerned that the cyclelane is over and cycles are to be merged into the traffic flow. Painted narrowing of the entrance to clearly single vehicle width would also help with that.

IMO the roundabout design should be illegal anyway, because it lacks formal pedestrian crossings. In absence of formal pedestrian crossings, pedestrians are subject to extreme delays to cross legally (and pedestrian accidents often increase).
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby il padrone » Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:12 pm

Steve_F wrote: don't usually have an issue here and find I can move into the car lane without an issue. But this particular day it didn't work for me, perhaps going earlier would help.

Sticking your arm out straight and bold well before you make your move is what will make it work for you, in my experience. Letting them know you are moving into the lane will often lead to some-one choosing to slow and let you in (as long as you can keep up a good clip, not climbing a big hll at 14kmh).
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby Oxford » Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:21 pm

actually the better design would have the bike lane taking over the road and forcing the cars to slow and merge. :mrgreen:
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby Steve_F » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:31 pm

Thanks everyone for the responses. I do agree that I could have prevented the incident by moving into the main lane earlier and with more intent. I will certainly take that advice on board.

But my main concern is regarding the particular markings at the end of this lane. Is it common that bike lanes end this way? Like I said I've seen a few around in my local area like that, but I'm not sure I've seen it elsewhere all that much. Though I have to admit I haven't looked much as I've only just really noticed this.

I'm also interested to know if the council have marked these correctly. The road marking manual I linked to in my first post suggests that the lane should just end with no taper line (it doesn't actually say that as far as I can see, but all the examples I see show no taper line). I'm not really sure if this document is just guidelines or something they must follow.

It does seem that the way it is currently marked, had I collided with the car in the situation I described, I could well be considered at fault. If the bike lane didn't end with the taper, would that still be the case (assuming I reached the end of the bike lane before the car)?

I do appreciate that being in the right means little if you are seriously injured in a crash and defensive riding is the way to avoid that. But I often see people ride through these sorts of roundabouts assuming cars will let them in (and they usually do), and it worries me to know that if there was an accident the aggressive driver who couldn't wait 2 seconds could be found not at fault just because of some inconsistent and perhaps incorrect line markings.

I sometimes wonder if the people who design cycling infrastructure that is supposed to improve our safety even think about this from a cyclists point of view.
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby il padrone » Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:42 pm

Steve_F wrote:I sometimes wonder if the people who design cycling infrastructure that is supposed to improve our safety even think about this from a cyclists point of view.


No.
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby trailgumby » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:05 pm

il padrone wrote:
Steve_F wrote:I sometimes wonder if the people who design cycling infrastructure that is supposed to improve our safety even think about this from a cyclists point of view.


No.

Indeed, definitely No.

Can anyone remeber what year the NSW RTA closed its bicycle unit?
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby wombatK » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:20 pm

Oxford wrote:haven't looked yet, but based on what you are saying, yes your lane ends, you give way. so what most of us would do is get out of the lane safely early and take the main lane as you are entitled to do. big arm out to the right make it clear. then make the left turn.

One possible interpretation is that it's a give way line...
Australian Road Rules 2008 wrote:give way line means a broken line that is marked across all or part of a
road and is not part of a marked foot crossing.

It is a bit of a stretch to make this definition fit.

And what is confusing is that there is a Bike Lane sign a couple of meters before the broken line starts; that's where you'd expect to see a Bike Lane End sign (i.e. the word End at the bottom of it). If you read
the definition of a Bicycle Lane in Rule 153(4), the intersection defines the end of a bicycle lane anyway.

Another interpretation is that the dotted line is quite like those seen where traffic lanes merge. Rule 149 specifies
149 Giving way when lines of traffic merge into a single line of traffic

A driver in a line of traffic that is merging with one or more
lines of traffic travelling in the same direction as the driver
must give way to a vehicle in another line of traffic if any
part of the vehicle is ahead of the driver’s vehicle

Bicycles are vehicles, and cyclists are drivers for this rule (and most others).
It might be that cyclists in the bike lane are a line of traffic, entitled to expect any following vehicles to give way
if any part of the bicycle is in front of a car in the adjacent lane.
And it could be that the purpose of the bike lane sign is to give drivers (including cyclists) a reminder that this
is a bike lane - not just a shoulder with painted awareness signs. Moreover, a bike lane end sign would probably
extinguish any right rely on the merge rule.

Perhaps you could write the local council and ask them for the correct interpretation. My observations when
riding around Sydney where similar markings occur is that most motorists do not treat them like a lane merge
- so I always take the traffic lane well before then.

Cheers
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby il padrone » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:26 pm

I think the technical deal with lane merges is that where the lane line simply stops and the lanes come together it is a lane merge - vehicle in front has priority.

Where the lane (usually on the left) ends with a dotted line closing it off, the lane ends and vehicles in that lane must give way.
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby citywomble » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:01 am

Yup.

Bike Lane ending open - this is a merge and the vehicle (car or bike) that passes the end of line first has (legal) right of way. This may help in determining fault in an accident but it wont make it hurt less.

Bike lane tapering to the kerb - this ends the cyclist's lane requiring a signal to change lanes and giving way to vehicles in the other lane when doing so. In an accident it will hurt the same AND the cyclist will be at fault.

Is it right? - NO. Can it be done better? - Yes.

First realise that the carriageway narrows to deflect larger vehicles (cars not bikes) to make it slower to enter the roundabout which helps with vehicles which have right of way on the roundabout - this benefits cyclists on the roundabout as the vehicles that might cut in front are slower.

The cyclist could have a bike lane which runs into a separated lane (with kerbing) as the road narrows, but this means that the cyclist will be inferior to left turning vehicles and will need hook turns to go right.

The best solution is for the lane to become dotted far enough back (to allow cyclists to merge earlier) and a bloody big bicycle symbol, in the middle of the lane at the give way line to the roundabout, to tell all drivers "expect bikes here" they are allowed!

Even better, added to the above, is for the bike lane to continue onto a shared path around the roundabout for those 'inexperienced, older or young' cyclists that want to avoid the roundabout to use the slow pedestrian options to negotiate the roundabout on the paths.

Put these two together and you have choices (for the cyclist) and 'driver education' that enables just about any type of cyclist to negotiate safely.
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby wombatK » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:04 am

il padrone wrote:I think the technical deal with lane merges is that where the lane line simply stops and the lanes come together it is a lane merge - vehicle in front has priority.

Where the lane (usually on the left) ends with a dotted line closing it off, the lane ends and vehicles in that lane must give way.

Most traffic merge lanes are like this. The leftmost lane does not have a lane line that simply stops - there is a broken line along the merge. But the vehicle in front has priority, and motorists understand that. So, except for motorist's ignorance, why should it be interpreted any differently for a bicycle lane merge ?
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby il padrone » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:37 am

Must be a bit different in NSW. Arond Vic I see plenty of lane merges like this, with no tapering lane.

It's all covered in Rule 148
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby Oxford » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:43 am

wombatK wrote:
il padrone wrote:I think the technical deal with lane merges is that where the lane line simply stops and the lanes come together it is a lane merge - vehicle in front has priority.

Where the lane (usually on the left) ends with a dotted line closing it off, the lane ends and vehicles in that lane must give way.

Most traffic merge lanes are like this. The leftmost lane does not have a lane line that simply stops - there is a broken line along the merge. But the vehicle in front has priority, and motorists understand that. So, except for motorist's ignorance, why should it be interpreted any differently for a bicycle lane merge ?

if there is a broken line along the merge, that is a give way line and zip merging does not apply. give way rules do, though good manners and sense has people hopefully being considerate. as IP pointed out, its in the rules, sadly many of these rules are new to most drivers who got their licenses a decade or more ago and they are blissfully ignorant unfortunately to the detriment of those around them.
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby Aushiker » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:12 am

citywomble wrote:The cyclist could have a bike lane which runs into a separated lane (with kerbing) as the road narrows, but this means that the cyclist will be inferior to left turning vehicles and will need hook turns to go right.


Is this the sort of thing you are referring to? The traffic calming here can actually give the cyclist a fighting chance :)

This is the intersection of South Terrace and Wray Avenue in Fremantle.

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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby Marx » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:05 pm

For me, I merge, just like I would if I was a car & my lane ended in a dotted line.

As for giving way, the approach to a roundabout does force motor traffic to slow regardless, & if they are bearing down on your from behind as you – merge – then they should provide you the space to enter the main lane of traffic, just because you are a bicycle & cannot accelerate to 60kms/hr just before a roundabout.
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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby il padrone » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:01 pm

citywomble wrote:First realise that the carriageway narrows to deflect larger vehicles (cars not bikes) to make it slower to enter the roundabout which helps with vehicles which have right of way on the roundabout - this benefits cyclists on the roundabout as the vehicles that might cut in front are slower.

The cyclist could have a bike lane which runs into a separated lane (with kerbing) as the road narrows, but this means that the cyclist will be inferior to left turning vehicles and will need hook turns to go right.

The best solution is for the lane to become dotted far enough back (to allow cyclists to merge earlier) and a bloody big bicycle symbol, in the middle of the lane at the give way line to the roundabout, to tell all drivers "expect bikes here" they are allowed!

There's this approach (from More Bike Lanes Please via BNV Forums) in at least one part of Melbourne's inner suburbs - Pigdon St, Carlton.

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Re: Bicycle lanes that end with tapered line

Postby Steve_F » Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:03 pm

Thanks for the responses everyone. I does seem that this tapering line is not at all common so I think I will question the council over it. Especially since the road marking guidelines published by the state government (which I assume they are supposed to follow) does not seem to imply it should be there.

Marx wrote:For me, I merge, just like I would if I was a car & my lane ended in a dotted line.

As for giving way, the approach to a roundabout does force motor traffic to slow regardless, & if they are bearing down on your from behind as you – merge – then they should provide you the space to enter the main lane of traffic, just because you are a bicycle & cannot accelerate to 60kms/hr just before a roundabout.


That's normally what I do and I generally don't have an issue. I don't often ride in heavy traffic (I work at home so I am not a commuter), so I don't generally need to be all that aggressive in claiming the lane. This particular incident was a Sunday morning, but I just happened to hit the intersection with a group of cars and couldn't find a gap to move into. Whilst "they should" provide me with the space, this particular person didn't. But as soon as I realized she was going to squeeze her way in I took extra care. It does bother me that the marking at this intersection differ to most and could actually move the blame of an accident onto the cyclist.

P.S. I do like the marking in the picture above. It does make it move obvious to motorist that cyclist are merging. I don't know that we can expect that level of detail everywhere though.
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