Day 277: New bike lane on Poplar Level Road

7 10 2010

There’s a new bike lane in town. Poplar Level Road was recently resurfaced — a nice, smooth desperately-needed blacktopped surface. A drastic improvement from the past couple year’s worth of large potholes, bumps and cracks. Here’s a photo before the bike lane was added:

Poplar Level Road (before bike lane)

This week, a bike lane was added in both directions. (Local blog, Broken Sidewalk, provides more information). I drive Poplar Level twice a day on my way to and from work. I think the posted speed limit is 45 mph, but most people seem to drive closer to 55. And very few actually follow the 25 mph limit in the two school zones. For that reason, I don’t really plan to ride my bike on Poplar Level, but I’m glad the city added bike lanes. Tonight on the way home from work, I noticed several cars weaving over into the bike lane. On the few occasions I’ve ridden my bike to Joe Creason Park located off Poplar Level, I make a point to ride through nearby neighborhoods just so I can avoid riding on Poplar Level. Most of the time, traffic doesn’t really make me nervous. Poplar Level and Bardstown Road are two areas that do make me a bit nervous, so I tend to avoid them whenever possible. I snapped a few quick photos today of the new bike lanes:

Bike lane on Poplar Level Road.

In this shot you can see the center stripe moved over to accomodate space for the bike lane.

When I first started cycling, I used to feel much more comfortable where there was a bike lane. Now, however, if I’m riding on a two-lane street, I feel much more comfortable taking the right-hand lane and making myself more visible to drivers. It’s not that I dislike bike lanes. But now that I’ve been cycling for a year or so, I’ve noticed something interesting. Many times when a car drives up behind a cyclist in a bike lane, the driver often squeezes very close to the cyclist, crowding them closer to the curb. I suppose the driver thinks, “they’re in the bike lane, they’ve got plenty of room for me to drive around them.” When a car comes up behind a cyclist who takes the majority of the lane (as we are allowed to do), cars slow down and oftentimes give the cyclist a wider area as they pass them (usually by changing into the other lane).

As I was taught in a bike safety course I took last year, when a cyclist takes the lane and rides near the center of the right-hand lane, it makes them more visible to car drivers who are used to watching that part of the lane for other vehicles or motorcycles. They don’t always know to watch out for cyclists traveling near the curb (which makes the cyclist hard to spot).

Another thing I’ve noticed when I ride in a bike lane (particularly in the Old Louisville area): in residential areas the bike lane is sometimes still well within the door zone of parked cars, which can be a problem. If I take the lane when I’m riding, I don’t usually have that problem.

I’m sure that we’ll never all agree on whether bike lanes are good or not so good. And the snarky comment I hear most from drivers is the oh-so-original “ride in the bike lane.” Don’t get me started on the stupid “stay on the sidewalk!” comments. That’s a post for another day, I think. Too bad drivers here don’t realize it’s actually illegal to ride on the sidewalk if you’re over age 11. Not to mention more dangerous than riding on the street (poorer visibility and restricted movement just to name a few reasons). This Web site and this one offer several good tips on avoiding accidents.

Do you prefer bike lanes? Do you take the traffic lane when you ride? What are your thoughts?

Today’s food journal: Weigh-in day at Weight Watchers today. I was down 2.6 pounds (8.2 pounds total so far). Next week I hope to make it to my first 10-pound loss.

Breakfast:
— Whole wheat english muffin = 2 points
— 1 tbsp peanut butter = 2 points
— 1 banana = 2 points

Lunch:
— Spinach salad = 0 points
— 1 apple = 1 point
— Veggie chicken patty = 3 points
— Light Lime salad dressing = 2 points
— Vitamin Water Zero = 0 points

Snack:
— SF jello = 0 points

Dinner:
— 2 black bean soft tacos with guacamole, salsa = 9 points
— Small glass LF chocolate milk = 3 points

Snack:
— Skinny Cow ice cream bar = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

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Thanks for visiting.

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4 responses

7 10 2010
Dave Morse

Wow, you broke the story that the lanes are really, truly in. Good eye!

7 10 2010
Alice - cyclingproject365

Thanks David. I hope to see lots of people using the bike lanes and drivers becoming more aware.

20 10 2010
Day 290: Local cycling advocate ticketed for taking the lane « Cyclingproject365

[…] I ride this street from downtown to the U of L area quite often. When I feel it’s safe, I use the bike lane. However, after a couple close calls with car doors (on this street in addition to others), I prefer to take the lane when it’s safe for me to do so. Particularly since cars have another lane in which to pass me. I talked about this recently here. […]

9 11 2010
Day 310: The $770,000 painted medians on Poplar Level Road « Cyclingproject365

[…] don’t mean to be snarky — I am glad the city put in the bike lane, but because it’s so narrow I wouldn’t feel safe using it. Since I drive this route […]

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