On February 27th the city of San Jose held a public meeting to share plans for improvements to 3rd st, 4th St and Almaden through the downtown core of San Jose. I regularly commute through part of the portion of 3rd street which was being presented, so I attended the meeting, as did some of the board members of SVBC. The areas being discussed on 3rd and 4th streets were from Julian St to Reed St. The current configuration of these roads is one way, with three travel lanes and parallel parking on both sides of the street. The proposal is to reduce the number of vehicular travel lanes from 3 to 2, and to add a bike lane on EACH side of the street, between the parked cars and the travel lanes. In some areas, where width allows, there are buffer zones between the bike lanes and the travel lanes, and where turns are allowed, there are weaving zones to allow motorists to cross the bike lanes to get to dedicated right turn only or left turn only lanes. Unfortunately the city has not posted their draft plans in a place accessible to the public, which will limit the value of any public opinion that they manage to collect on the proposals.
I am not convinced that the bike lanes on the left side of the road are an effective use of the limited width road. Most cyclists, through both the way their bikes are set up and through habit, are used to riding on the right side of the road. If I am on the left, my mirror is useless, and I have to be concerned about traffic on my right, as well as dooring hazards on the left. Opposite side of the road bike lanes are rare enough that I doubt that there exists any studies as to their safety. I also wonder how many lesser experienced cyclists would take advanatage of them. At the same time, when I am riding in traditional right hand bike lanes, I often see cyclists riding in the door zone, which makes me cringe because I know that doorings are one of the more common types of crash causing injury to cyclists.
My thought is that if we were to take the same road width, and remove the parallel parking from the right hand side of the road, and replace the parallel parking on the left side of the road with diagonal parking, the result would be approximately the same number of parking spaces. We could then put a bike lane, with or without a traffic buffer zone on the right hand side of the road - eliminating the door zone for cyclists. I proposed this configuration to the city engineer who was at the Feb 27 meeting (Jesse Quiron) and received a reply which basically said that they liked the proposed configuration because he is not concerned about doorings (saying that San Jose has a low incidence of this type of accident), and that cyclists, given a choice between a buffer zone on the parking side or the travel side of a bike lane, prefer to have the buffer on the travel side of the lane.
I was wondering what the opinion of SVBC members was as to bike lanes placed adjacent to parallel parking, and bike lanes on the left hand side of a one way street - am I crazy to be so frightened by this type of infrastructure?