What is the purpose of a bicycle lane?

Andy Cline has some thoughtful questions in his article Please Be Careful. Here’s some excepts:

Please be careful what you ask for; please re-think asking for more bicycle lanes.

Four inches of paint cannot think for you. Four inches of paint is an illusion of safety, not real safety.

Driving your bicycle as as normal part of traffic is already safe.

What is the purpose of a bicycle lane? As far as I am aware there are two:

1) To keep you from using the road that is rightfully yours. Car drivers use the road by privilege after receiving permission from the state (driver’s license and license plate for the car). Bicyclists use the road by right. No permission is necessary. And no bicycle registration fees are necessary because our bicycles do no harm to the road. Our bicycles also do not kill 35+ thousand people per year. Lanes are an effective way to keep you shunted to the side so that car drivers can ignore you.

2) To encourage more people to ride bicycles. Notice the interesting contradiction between these two reasons. Some bicycle advocates want more lanes because they want more people to ride bicycles. Some novices like bicycle lanes because they have yet to learn how to effectively and safely drive their bicycles in traffic. A big problem arises, however, when lanes are painted that are actually more dangerous than the road — door-zone lanes for example.

The full article has a link to an interesting video Why You Should Avoid the Door Zone.

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