Arguing for Speed Limits in Bike Lanes

Posted on September 27, 2013

In my appeal for my "riding outside the bike lane" trial I advocate for a 15 mph speed limit in bike lanes.

As I stated in my testimony, I often elect to ride outside the bike lane because I find it to be generally unsafe due to obstructions. Please see the enclosed DVD for clips from a single ride of mine up 1st Ave. Also as stated in my testimony my general cruising speed, as an experienced biker, is about 25 miles per hour. You can clearly see the speed in my DVD. 25 miles per hour is simply too fast for the 1st Ave bike lane but it is still a legal speed for a bicycle to be traveling. I stated that I was traveling about 25 miles an hour when the officer noticed me outside the bike lane. He does not contest this fact in our combined testimony.

Here is my argument:

  • Bicycles are to be in bike lanes unless there is reason for them to be unsafe when in the bike lane.
  • 25 miles per hour is too fast to be safely riding in a narrow, protected bike lane such as the lane found on 1st Ave.
  • I was traveling 25 miles per hour when I was ticketed.
  • Therefore it was unsafe for me to be in the bike lane at that time and I was justified to be riding in traffic.

This is generally my take on bike lane safety. Bike lanes are great for protecting bikers who otherwise would be unsafe integrated into traffic (inexperienced bikers who otherwise would not bike in the street, bikers traveling significantly slower than traffic, etc.) There are bikers, however, whose legal activities (such as their speed) make it unsafe for them to be in most bike lanes.

In Minneapolis the East River Road has a 10 mph speed limit on the bike path. Bikers going faster than that ride in the road. This works well and is unambiguous. 15 mph seems right to me for a bike lane in New York City. Please give this some thought.

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