bicycle lane ends merging into traffic lane

A matter of Perspective

Bad infrastructure is easy to see when you are looking for it, but looking at the same road from different lanes can provide a radically different perspective. But we’ll start with the problem where bad infrastructure also requires bad driving.

Here a merge is already causing conflict, but the driver without any traffic to their right and space to pass safely instead chooses to make a close pass. From the bicycle lane users are being thrown under the oncoming traffic with the hope that the drivers in the traffic lane will give way as they are required to, but without any disadvantage to the driver in making this manoeuvre and a faction of a second saved in travel time they have played the game and maximised their result.

Looking from the bicycle lane the taper merge is abundantly clear, complete with a lane end sign.

bicycle lane ends merging into traffic lane

The poorly built and maintained bicycle lane is 750mm wide (below the 1200mm absolute minimum) to the kerb lip where the gaps present a hazard to cyclists. This sits against a similarly undersized lane of 2.9m which then both merge to a single lane of 3.3m width. The Australian guides require a minimum of 3.7m for lanes where a cyclist and other vehicle can share and further require “The figures in the table presume that surface conditions are to be of the highest standard” which the roadway here most certainly isn’t with its patched and broken surfaces and the sunken man hole covers which require cycling around.

But how does it look from the vehicle lane?

view down the road from a drivers perspective

Care of google street view with its truck drivers perspective, motor vehicles see a lane getting wider with no clear indication that they are merging. The edge lines appear straight and there is no warning sign ahead of a merge as would be typical if traffic lanes were merging:

standard Australian "Form 1 Lane" sign

Which would typically have road markings and an additional copy of the warning sign ahead of the merge giving drivers time to prepare. The standards for these merge tapers erroneously scale their length proportional to the width of the lane dropped, so the 33m of taper present at this location meets the requirements on paper but fails to leave enough distance for a vehicle to fully respond, and mixing it with the intersection markings leaves the confusing mess.

With the excellent visibility and a gap with sufficient time to respond the driver chose to take the aggressive and dangerous action. Being city traffic it was possible to catch them shortly after and their response was “you swerved out in front of me”, still they failed to recognise the merge and even after pointing it out they were unapologetic. But the 20 seconds they then spent shouting while I was in their way, completely erased any minor advance they achieved with their actions.

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