Friday, October 1, 2010

I Do Not Like to Undertake Cars in the Zombie Bike Lane

Bike Lane That Dies, Moves Forward, and Comes Back to Life

At first I had warm feeling toward this sign. Oh, hi! Yield to bikes, great, thanks traffic signage boffins for thinking of me! Then I stopped, stuck my foot on the curb, took this picture, and considered it more carefully. There wasn't any traffic on this stretch of road yet, so I had it all to myself. Time and space to think.

Who's the sign for? 
Drivers merging into the right turn lane across the dashed zombie bike lane.
What's it telling them to do? 
Yield to bikes.
Which bikes? 
The ones in the bike lane to their right.
Be more specific: bikes in front of them, next to them, or behind them?
Presumably the ones in front of them don't have to be yielded to in this sense.
What about the bikes next to them in the zombie bike lane?
Common practice as well as the law would already indicate that you can't just run over someone already occupying the lane directly next to you. 
I'll agree with that. So is it suggesting that drivers yield to the bikes coming up behind them on the right?
Yes, I think that must be it.
Wait: drivers are supposed to be yielding to undertaking bikes in the zombie bike lane?
The sign expects them to clear their rear right blind spot of bikes before they merge?
I think so.
That still doesn't really seem to cover the whole intent of the sign though, does it?
Otherwise we wouldn't really need a sign since what we've said thus far would be required anyway.
It seems to be telling cars to yield the zombie bike lane to undertaking bikes who might be affected by their merge from start to finish.
If the car driver could merge into the lane cleanly under normal circumstances, in this case, according to the sign, they are still supposed to yield it to a an undertaking bicyclist who wants it instead???
Bull crap! How are they supposed to do that?
Very carefully? And not very naturally? By slowing and craning their necks around to the right, I guess. Or by recalling to the front of their mind that bike which they overtook 30 seconds ealier and which will now undertake them.
I'm getting uncomfortable here. And what is the significance of the zombie bike lane then?
What do you mean?
Is it bike lane?
No. As I understand it, the bike lane marking indicates a lane which cars under normal forward motion do not enter or cross.
So, it must indicate that it's OK for cars to cross it?
Yes, it must.
How does that differ from a bare naked stretch of pavement then?
Well, based on the sign, and its transitional nature in between actual bike lanes, it must indicate a kind of gray area: cars OK to cross, be aware that bikes may be flying through here.
It's just going to piss drivers off isn't it.
Asking them to do something that's not very sensible, within a gray area on the pavement.
While they are busy, with lots of things on their minds, late for work.
Of course.
Anxious to check their You-Face status on iTube and Tweeker.
Some of them.
Uh huh.
Stressed out about the meeting with the boss and their unrewarding work.
Many of them.
In Phoenix? Most assuredly.
Out of work.
Yes about 10% of them who don't want to be.
Trying to light their last cigarette for three hours before they pull into the non-smoking zone.
OK, I get it. Typical drivers. A care-worn lot.
So, the sign is dictating to this care-worn lot to yield to (undertaking) bikes (in the zombie bike lane gray zone)? Really?
I would much rather just share the road and follow the traffic laws equally. And invite the care-worn lot out into the fresh air for some more bike riding. After talking with you, I feel that accursed signage is not helping any of us.
On that point we see eye to eye, my good man.
Yes, we do. Shall we adjourn to the Agora now?
Yes, we shall. Once there, I'll argue you into a corner of logical inevitability so that the only thing you can do this weekend and not collapse into self-contradictory absurdity is--
I know. Same as always. Get up. Go ride.


  1. I have sort of the same situation down my street.
    I like the signs for if anything, they remind car people that there are actually bikes that use the lane.
    The yielding part is ambiguous for the right lane is for street parking and right turns so it's not uncommon for cars to drive ahead then turn off to park or turn.
    I think car people see bikes, think slow, and have trouble judging speed: should I slow down or speed up? I can make it!
    Bike people see the sign and see they have the right of way: car back! hey, hey, HEY HEY! WFT?!
    Make the lines solid all the way I say, so that cars think more than twice before executing lane changes.
    Oh and I just noticed, your bike lane petroglyphs face the opposite direction of ones over here.

  2. Also since the signs don't specify that the message is for cars only (CARS YIELD TO BIKES) I woke up in the middle of the night wondering what the sign means to cyclists themselves who may be merging right across the bike lane here, due to parked cars in the bike lane or other reasons. Since "BIKES: YIELD TO BIKES" is a fairly complex imperative sentence, I like it, but fear that I may be stuck in a self-referential dilemma that delays decisive and predictable action in that situation.


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