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Do you have an opinion on the "Bikes May Take Full Lane" signs on Wells, under the tracks in the loop?

My initial impulse when I first started riding Wells was that they are great. It made me feel confident in taking the full lane.

But it occurs to me that such signs could have the negative consequence of making drivers (or cyclists) assume that cyclists may -not- take the lane absent a sign allowing them to do so.

Thoughts?

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I'm generally in early enough (7am-ish) that the traffic isn't too bad. I feel fine taking the lane. I do wish the signs were displayed a bit more prominently (brighter? lit?). I wonder sometimes if drivers might miss them.

The problem is many drivers already work under the incorrect assumption that a cyclist may not take the lane when required to do so for safety, so I don't really see the sign making things worse.  

That said, I also feel like these signs do not have much of a real impact on the problem drivers.  This type of sign is up in a few places on Jackson St. in Oak Park and Forest Park, and I routinely still have drivers yell at me to get out of the street (mostly in Forest Park), even when I'm riding with my kid.  IMHO, actual bike lanes (protected or painted)--and to a certain extent sharrows--seem to be the only things that make any type of actual impact on driver behavior.    

Because of the supports for the elevated tracks the signs help let everybody know that the bike will take the lane rather than try to hug close to the support or try to weave in and out from behind the supports. Both of those options can be dangerous. Accordingly, the signs are a good idea. I also like it because it essentially warns drivers that the speed on the road is likely to be below the posted limit. I make this comment solely for roads where there are supports for the elevated trains- Wells, Wabash, Lake, Van Buren.

Good point.

When biking on Wells, if you are behind a car, do you move up to the front of the line at a red light? I do not. If the car is already in front of me, I let it stay in front of me.

David Barish said:

I also like it because it essentially warns drivers that the speed on the road is likely to be below the posted limit.

I honestly always move up if it is safe to do so (I proceed slowly.) Not because I want to get ahead of cars, but rather because I feel most visible sitting at the front while the light is red and cars aren't moving. Cars have no choice but to pass me while they're moving as slow as I am once we start. They seem to pass me more safely if we're not already at speed to get through an intersection. 

Alex Z said:

Good point.

When biking on Wells, if you are behind a car, do you move up to the front of the line at a red light? I do not. If the car is already in front of me, I let it stay in front of me.

David Barish said:

I also like it because it essentially warns drivers that the speed on the road is likely to be below the posted limit.

I don't have a hard&fast rule for when to ride to the front or when to just take my place in line. I do both, depending on the intersection... but it's always a last minute judgement call. I'll have to better evaluate my riding and see if I can find a pattern.



Alex Z said:

When biking on Wells, if you are behind a car, do you move up to the front of the line at a red light? I do not. If the car is already in front of me, I let it stay in front of me.

Like you, I stay in the traffic flow instead of moving to the front of the line.

I agree it's a situational thing.  If there are a lot of cars in line and you see right turn signals or it's intersecting a big street where right turns are likely there's no reason to trap yourself if the light turns while you're working your way up plus even if you did make it to the front you'll be blocking traffic.  If someone's way over to the right and you can't get around them it's not worth it, either.  I see a lot of can't/won't/don't stop people weave through stopped cars at intersections and am just waiting for the awful day one of them gets hit by a car moving up to make a left or right turn.

Drewbacca said:

I don't have a hard&fast rule for when to ride to the front or when to just take my place in line. I do both, depending on the intersection... but it's always a last minute judgement call. I'll have to better evaluate my riding and see if I can find a pattern.

Ah! 

Yes this is kind of my attitude. If it's a tight squeeze or I see lotsa turn signals I don't do it.

I also carefully watch the light: once it turns green, I don't pass any more cars on the right, jic one starts veering right with no signal. It's like real life red light green light. Basically.

Tricolor said:

I agree it's a situational thing.  If there are a lot of cars in line and you see right turn signals or it's intersecting a big street where right turns are likely there's no reason to trap yourself if the light turns while you're working your way up plus even if you did make it to the front you'll be blocking traffic.  If someone's way over to the right and you can't get around them it's not worth it, either.  I see a lot of can't/won't/don't stop people weave through stopped cars at intersections and am just waiting for the awful day one of them gets hit by a car moving up to make a left or right turn.

Drewbacca said:

I don't have a hard&fast rule for when to ride to the front or when to just take my place in line. I do both, depending on the intersection... but it's always a last minute judgement call. I'll have to better evaluate my riding and see if I can find a pattern.

I always try to pull into as visible position as possible when stopping at lights. Whether that means in the lane in line with cars, ahead and to the right, in the spot where the painted bike box would (should) go, or in between a right-turning car and the going-straight car, that's all situational. 

Anyway, those signs: I would love to see them in more places. I am always struck while riding down there that if drivers see them in more places, more often, they will begin to understand the law better. Maybe that's wishful thinking.

I agree.

When I ride on this part of Wells, it's usually at night well after rush hour, when traffic volumes tend to be light. Since the installation of the signs, I've noticed a significant improvement in driver behavior when riding at that hour. Most of the drivers I encounter there are cabbies, and they almost always give me room now - not so much before the signs.

David Barish said:

Because of the supports for the elevated tracks the signs help let everybody know that the bike will take the lane rather than try to hug close to the support or try to weave in and out from behind the supports. Both of those options can be dangerous. Accordingly, the signs are a good idea. I also like it because it essentially warns drivers that the speed on the road is likely to be below the posted limit. I make this comment solely for roads where there are supports for the elevated trains- Wells, Wabash, Lake, Van Buren.

Wells St under the tracks used to be part of my morning commute and I always took the entire right lane through that section after having one or two very scary experiences of being passed inches away. As soon as the signs went up, in combination with the giant, middle-of-the-street sharrows, I felt more empowered to be doing what I had been doing anyway. I think the symbol-and-sign combo are great.

I rarely ride that stretch now that the Dearborn bike lane is a better southbound route for me, though. CDOT should add the signs on Kinzie on the section east of where the protected lane ends. I think I've suggested signs and maybe green paint to make bicyclists more visible there on Kinzie, since it was found to be too narrow for a protected lane.

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