Camelback Road Diet and Buffered Bike Lane

Here are some city documents:

The Diet

The diet part of the plan seems like a slam dunk… Normally any road diet is opposed becasue of fears that the lane removal will increase automobile congestion. In this particular case, that isn’t possible because of the unusual circumatance that this 1-mile stretch of 3 through lanes in each direction, is bounded on both ends by 2 through lanes. I.e. both north of Bethany Home Road, and south of Camelback Road is already only two lanes.

The Buffered Bike Lane

The “problem” then became what to do with “extra” space? A generously wide bike lane, including gutter is only 6′ wide, and the diet meant that 12′ of space had to be filled (in both directions). The answer came in the form of placing a 6′ buffer between the bike lane and the rightmost traffic lane. A.k.a a Buffered Bike Lane, see e.g.

I am somewhat skeptical of placing space between cyclists and overtaking vehicles. While this is presented as an un-alloyed good thing by many facilities advocates, it clearly has safety drawbacks which usually go unmentioned. here is a more balanced view, as presented in the Feb 2010 (the latest) Draft AASHTO Guide, p.78 (my emphasis):

Striped buffers may be used to provide increased separation between a bike lane and another adjacent lane that may present conflicts, such as a parking lane with high‐turnover or a higher speed travel lane. The benefits of additional lateral separation should be weighed against the disadvantages; a buffer between the bike lane and the adjacent motor vehicle travel lanes places cyclists further from the normal sight lines of motorists, who are primarily looking for vehicles in the normal travel lanes, and buffers between the travel lane and bike lane reduce the natural “sweeping” effect of passing motor vehicles, potentially requiring more frequent maintenance.

 That all being said, I objected to the original design which called for the outer buffer stripe to gradually arc into the intersection. This seemed to me to be a recipe for extra right-hooks. City staff readily agreed to my and Gene’s suggestion to end the buffer ahead of each intersection, and then a bit of dashed line; which is incidentally, as shown in the NACTO guide as recommended. (so thanks to Kerry Wilcoxon, and Joe Perez).

This should make the buffer “not bad” at intersections, yet doesn’t do anything for the many driveways. In other words, it should be no worse than a standard bike lane at intersections, but I fear it will raise risks at driveways relative to bike lane. So anyway, I’m reserving my judgement on the whole buffered bike lane thing. The hope is that it will encourage/entice cyclists off the sidewalks, where most collisions occur. However that doesn’t help those of us who are already legally using the roadway, and in fact may well be putting us in more danger.

The re-striping

The striping project apparently happened on schedule 4AM Saturday morning 1/7/2012, there are some pics on P4’s Facebook page (f.b. login required to view). TBAG has listed a ride to visit the new work on 1/8/2010.


One thought on “Camelback Road Diet and Buffered Bike Lane”

  1. How about some alternating chicanes? It would take up some of that extra road space and also calm traffic, so it would be twice as good as a buffered bike lane.

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