Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New bike lanes on Wakefield Chapel Road - Part II

Today we had a chance to check out the new bike lanes on Wakefield Chapel Road. As you can see from the map on the right, the extent of the bike lanes is a little less than 1/2 the length of the road. On the south, from Braddock Rd to Queen Elizabeth Blvd there is limited right of way and the same is true from Pulley Ct to Little River Turnpike/Route 236 in the north.

We were mostly interested to see if the striped lanes placed cyclists in the door zone. On the southern end of the bike lane section the parking lane and bike lane both seem substandard. We didn't have a tape measure, but pacing off the distances it seemed like the parking lane was only 6 feet from the edge of the gutter pan and the bike lane was 4 feet. As we summarize in the newly published Guide to Reviewing Public Road Design and Bicycling Accommodations for Virginia Bicycling Advocates, "Bike lane width adjacent to narrow parking lane: 6-7 feet." The extra width gives cyclists room to maneuver. I believe the AASHTO guidance for parking lanes is for 7-8 feet in residential areas.

As you can see from the first photo with the white pickup truck, there is very little room for parking and the bike lane, and a cyclist riding in the bike lane would clearly be in the door zone. The photo was taken looking south. The truck's right wheel is in the gutter plan and the truck just barely fits within the parking space. An open door would extend nearly across the full width of the bike lane. In this case a cyclist should either ride on the far outside edge of the bike lane or take the lane to avoid being put into a dangerous position.

The second photo, with the van, is particularly interesting. The van is parked far to the right, and yet the bike lane striping couldn't be done with it parked there. The inside bike lane strip stops at the bottom of the photo and continues just past the van. We assume the van was there when the striping was done.

The north section without bike lanes consists of a four lane section with a median. Cyclists can easily ride in the outer lane, taking the lane and motorists can pass in the inner lane.

The worst place is between the end of the bike lanes at Pulley Ct and the start of the four lane section. There's a small rise in the road where it's narrow and cyclists will be going slow with no choice but to take the lane. The last photo is looking north at the end of the bike lane with the small hill in the distance. Even at midday there was a lot of traffic. This would be a good location for shared lane markings.

The striping needs to be tweaked. Unfortunately it's not uncommon for problems like this to occur, especially when a community is getting experience placing bike lanes. The worst problem is the very narrow parking lane and bike lane in the southern section. It might be wise to remove the bike lanes altogether and replace them with shared lane markings, showing cyclists where they should place themselves when riding next to parked cars. This will likely be a topic of discussion at the next FABB meeting on Wed., August 18 at 7:30pm at Patrick Henry Library in Vienna.

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I am glad I found this explination of the Wakefield Chapel baike lane. As a bike rider in the area, I am confused about the benifit of this project. It appears to be the bike lane to no where, as it does not link anything. As a tax payer, I really question the wisdom of this project.

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