Bike Lane or Traffic Lane? You Make the Call!

When riding to work, I travel one block on Sheetz Street. There is a short bike lane there, and I’m having trouble deciding if I should use it. I’ll try to describe the layout and the issues.

Sheetz Street, West Lafayette

State Street from the west is the path of SR26, and is 2 lanes in each direction. The eastbound lanes both turn right onto Sheetz, and then left onto Wood Street one block later. While State has no marked bike lane, Sheetz does for that one block. The problem is I also want to turn left onto Wood Street, but drivers in the right traffic lane have a choice of left turn or straight travel on Sheetz. I end up merging back into the traffic lane before the left turn so I’m not hit by a straight traveling motorist. (If I were hit, it would be my fault for changing/crossing lanes without yielding.) This maneuver sometimes requires me to stop and wait for an opening in traffic.

Reasons Why I Should Use the Bike Lane

  • Eastbound traffic turning south on Sheetz street can’t see around the corner, so they may not see me in the traffic lane
  • At 7:50am, the drivers are close to being late for work, and it is polite of me to use the provided bike lane to allow them faster travel
  • I’m basically a polite guy, and I don’t want to inconvenience anyone

Reasons Why I Should Use the Traffic Lane

  • The merge back into the traffic lane can be dangerous, and I’d be better off traveling in a straight line.
  • The numerous driveways, garage entry/exit ramps, and alleys provide many places for inattentive drivers to run me down. (Which would be their fault, but it would still hurt!)
  • ‘Taking the lane’ – while annoying to some drivers – is much safer for me
  • Because I can!

What do you think?

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