We don’t normally do opinion pieces at Bungalower, but we had some interesting interactions this weekend with our social media followers that beg to be addressed in a straight-on fashion.
This past Friday I happened to be pedaling through Audubon Park after leaving the “Tom and Dan” recording studios in Baldwin Park. I thought I’d take a run at the recently installed protected bike lanes along Corrine Drive to see what the rider experience was like and was surprised to find so many obstacles along the way.
It’s no secret that Orlando drivers have a deadly relationship with pedestrians and cyclists, with the City Beautiful regularly placing at the top for pedestrian fatality rates in the country – which is why Mayor Dyer’s team has been investing so much in cycling infrastructure programs over the past few years. But it seems like there’s still a lot of work to do.
A friendly post to social media sharing a photograph of a car parked in a bike lane in Audubon Park with a reminder that it’s not a “cool” thing to do quickly revealed that not only do not all people agree on the overall usefulness of bike lanes, a large percentage of those commenting couldn’t even tell us what a bike lane was supposed to look like.
Comments started flooding in sharing that the layout was confusing, that the curb wasn’t clearly yellow, or that there was nowhere else to park nearby so the driver had a right to park there. So we did a quick survey.
Over 2,000 people saw the Instagram Story survey while it was shared Saturday evening through Sunday. According to those who chose to participate in the survey, 53% shared that they could not tell the lane in the photograph was a designated bike lane.
We were asked a few follow-up questions including the following so we thought we’d share some answers too.
- How am I supposed to know if this is a bike path or not? Well, you’ll get a few clues that let you know your car shouldn’t be parked there. One is that the lane is green and in this case, green does not mean go. The curb is also painted yellow, which means you can’t park there. And lanes will also have cyclist symbols painted on top of the lane in white bold lines. That means it’s for bikes. This one even has a fence along certain segments to separate drivers from riders.
- Why are the lines dashed? Painted bike lanes stay solid along the majority of their route to mark that they’re just to be used for bikes. The dashed segments are used at intersections and bus stops to indicate shared spaces with motorists who need to pass through, almost like they’re permeable membranes.
- Are all bike lanes painted green? Not all bike lanes in Orlando are painted green, but it is a fairly normal thing around the country to mark lanes with a different color, to help drivers recognize it as a part of the road that’s different than the travel lanes they should be using. The city of Orlando started adding more green designated lanes back in 2017 as a way to increase the visibility of cyclists and discourage illegal parking.
The incident raises more questions about the overall safety and effectiveness of bike lanes in Orlando if such a large number of residents can’t recognize what a bike lane even looks like. Do you feel safer using a bike lane when it’s only separated from passing traffic by a painted line, knowing that now? Because that’s something I’m asking myself now before I put my safety in the hands of local drivers. Especially if one of those hands is holding a cell phone or a vape pen.
Do yourself a favor, Orlando. Stick to your lane, use your blinker, and please don’t park in bike lanes – whether you believe in them or not. Maybe the only way to ultimately reduce pedestrian fatalities is to demand regular driver’s tests every few years, so people can tell what a bike lane looks like.