Well yeah, but we use this specific configuration with the shared centre lane only on the lowest tier of rural roads where traffic is limited and the speed limit is 60 km/h (roughly 40 mph), and some select urban streets where they act as a traffic calming measure¹. Most arterial and collector roads have segregated cycleways, both within and without city limits. That is the basis of our road system. Cyclists and motorists mostly share only local roads/streets (30 km/h (20 mph) speed limit within city limits, 60 km/h without). The exceptions are roads where limited space means cyclists have dedicated cycle lanes which motorists may not use for overtaking, but in those cases motorized traffic won't share lanes with oncoming traffic either.
This specific set up is not uncommon, but certainly not meant as a solution for high traffic roads. It is one small trick to use in a system that mostly keeps cyclists and pedestrians on dedicated ways segregated by greenery or kerbs parallel to arterial or collector roads. Taking it out of that context seems risky.
(The trick with the single shared lane and wide 'gutters' meant for passing oncoming traffic are common in the 60 km/h local road variety in the Netherlands, but mostly they lack a cycle lane, and cyclists share the single lane between the dashed lanes².)
1: Example https://email@example.com,5.8052424,3a,75y,271...
2: Example: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,5.4629652,3a,75y,15....
They actually say that in the video. In Germany they are mostly used in urban settings in streets with speedlimits below 30 km/h I believe. They definitely work if this is a low volume street, however the speed limits need to be enforced (a general problem in many countries IMO).
This might not have been as clear outside of the North American context.
In many states speed limits on such roads are 55-75mph. The thing in the article isn't a replacement for those at all.
This configuration looks like an alternative to one-lane, two-way roads in the US (typically no lines, 25mph speed limit; usually only for short parts of longer rural roads; often found near dirt/gravel roads).
One lane roads in the US have room for cars to pull off on the berm to let ongoing traffic pass. This seems similar. A bike wouldn't want to cruise along the red bits of a rural road like the one in the article, becuase they'd repeatedly hit debris. However, the dotted line provide guides to cars to allow them to avoid hitting bikes as they pass, and stretches of a few dozen yards in the red zone would usually be fine.
They aren't that wide and there's not a lot of traffic, the safe thing to do is in fact to stay toward the center and yield to the sides when opposing traffic is coming. This isn't that different.
I would never ride on one of these in the US. I can already imagine the Amazon delivery van or work truck parked in the bicycle section, forcing me into the center. I can also imagine the impatient drivers accelerating way beyond the speed limit to try to pass me while I'm riding in the center. I was a bike commuter in NYC for years, and am a regular recreational cyclist in the Bay Area and LA. So I have pretty significant experience riding in the US, and all of that experience is telling me that this is a bad idea for US cities.
A large part of this, from what I've observed living in Canada and the Netherlands, is the different perspectives borne out of each culture.
In the Netherlands, everyone grows up having been a bicycle commuter. It's how every child gets to school. So everyone has been a bicycle commuter for at least some period of their lives and can sympathize with other bicycle commuter.
In Canada, it's less common for children to ride bicycles to school. Busses are far more common or parents dropping off their kids at the kiss-n-ride. When kids do ride bicycles, it's for sport.
So if a Canadian driver sees a person riding a bicycle, he or she does not see that person as an equal; someone who is also using the road to commute. They tend to see the bicycle commuter as someone who is intruding on their space, using the road (which is for commuting) for sport. And there is some small proportion of self-appointed citizen police who will decide to "teach them a lesson", much like you have with drivers who go about break-checking. It does not take many of those experiences to instill a sense of terror for those who try to commute by bicycle.
Additionally, in the Netherlands people who drive to work still frequently ride their bicycles to run errands. Need a carton of volle melk from the Albert Heijn or Jumbo? Just hop on your bicycle and ride 5 minutes. In the Netherlands there are very few food deserts  and small, well-stocked grocery stores are close at hand for every neighbourhood. That's often impractical in Canada, where we have shifted to large RC Superstores and Walmart "Supercentres", often located distant to residential neighbourhoods, often located along stroads which are inhospitable to anyone but car drivers.
In the Netherlands, it's much easier to think, "well, that could be me tomorrow", when driving past a bicycle commuter. In Canada, car drivers see the bicycle commuter as an invader or alien species, "the cyclist", whom is different and perhaps even unwelcome. In Canada, I feel lucky if the car drivers just tolerate my presence on the road; In the Netherlands I felt seen as an equal.
 : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert
New Zealand, however, was a different story. The roads are huge, US-style, and a significant number of cyclists think that the road is for them and them only which, given the design, is not even entirely invalid as such. You get aggressive drivers everywhere (including NL), but the incidence in NZ was far more often than anywhere else. I think the mandatory helmet laws aren't helping either: it instils the impression that you're doing something inherently dangerous on a space not intended for you.
Actually the most careful (car) drivers I've seen was in Indonesia, where roads are for scooters first and cars second.
Oddly, the use of helmets may alter the perceptions of drivers opposite to what you suggest. There have been a couple studies showing that drivers, when seeing a bicycle commuter wearing a helmet, give that bicycle rider *less* room upon passing, compared to a bicycle rider who is not wearing a helmet.
There's a good summary of the observed effect which also provides links to the published research:
I think both can be true:
1. "cyclists are better protected, so less need to be careful"
2. "cyclists are engaging in something dangerous and unusual because they need to wear a helmet".
I looked at this a few years ago, and I found most studies on the topic inconclusive, some studies with contradicting results, etc. so in general I'm a bit hesitant citing studies on the topic.
When a bike is a random occasion, you don’t drive expecting one on every corner. Even if you hate it. This can create an interesting type of blindness to it (your brain just doesn’t register it).
Even if nothing changed in terms of people’’ feelings, this would be beneficial as well (which I presume, is much more common than people wanting to punish them).
It's like their brain just shuts off estimating speed and distance as soon as they see a bicycle, it's very interesting.
I've lived all over the US and I've mostly seen this on the east coast (NY, CT, MA). Totally insane to me that police don't ticket the hell out of delivery vehicles for parking in the middle of active roadways (not just bike lanes).
Drivers in this area are terrible in general, not just delivery drivers. Everyone likes to claim that their local drivers are bad, but as someone with a lot of broad experience, East Coast drivers are truly some of the worst.
I never feel safe on shared streets unless there's a physical barrier between cars and other road users. It only takes half a second of distraction for a driver to ruin your day, or worse.
This makes the roads a lot safer for cyclists.
When this law was introduced years ago the Dutch also made fun of it: https://youtu.be/ivY06w83fKU
This is an opinion piece from 2013 but is still accurate because enforcement has not changed since:
More recent examples:
They have just in the past month updated the policy, but there have been several instances of this in the past 12 months.
In Toronto, a driver took their eyes off the road, reached for a water bottle on the floor, hopped the curb, hit and killed a pedestrian, and was found not guilty.
In Canada, drivers are not generally held responsible for driving that is normally incompetent. So the defence would of wanted to establish that such incompetence had occurred. It had to be a mistake that anyone could make.
It's a a pretty big problem, but no one seems to care...
For most crashes and/or road traffic accidents, no "fault" is usually determined, FAFAIK.
The funny detail is that cyclists can choose to prosecute the car driver if they want the car driver to take on 100% liability, and in that case fault will be determined. But if a judge then finds the cyclist at fault, the car driver's liability decreases to 0% and the cyclist gets nothing.
This might be true. On the other hand, I know that especially in fatal accidents, forensic analysis is sometimes able to tell whether the driver was speeding or was exhibiting other kinds of illegal/reckless behavior, in which case prosecution for 3rd degree murder (dood door schuld) is usually pursued.
The worst part is that cars get super confused / angry when bicyclists use the car lane instead of the "perfectly good" bike lane.
It's a pretty narrow road through redwood forest and since cars avoid it, cyclists treat it as a bike route.
Confusion about how these roads work is actually good. It may seem paradoxical at first, but easy to understand roads with ample signage actually breed high speeds, congestion, complacency, and dead pedestrians. Many dangerous intersections have found that removing signage and leaving it up to drivers drastically reduces speeds and improves safety.
Mentally taxing roads slow cars down, make people take alternate routes, and force people to look for pedestrians. You can't juggle your Starbucks and your iPhone when you're navigating unfamiliar roads - AND THAT IS GOOD.
The purpose of a city is not to breed cars, nor is it to allow lazy car drivers a chance to justify their miserable commute.
I mean what, if the drive to work sucks people might just find work closer to home, or lobby for public transportation. Who wants that?
I don’t think roads need to be mentally taxing as that just causes fatigue to already tired workers commuting. What you can do is offer visual and sensory cues so that the speed limit feels natural. For example, narrowing lanes, gradient changes, road material changes.
But again, all of my experience riding in the US tells me that this style of road is a terrible idea without two prerequisites:
1. significant increase in difficulty of obtaining a license
2. enforcement of penalties when drivers murder cyclists and pedestrians
The number of times that people have dangerously cut through a bike lane, done high speed close passes, swerved and accelerated into incoming traffic to do a dangerous pass while going 20mph over the speed limit, randomly pulling over to park directly in front of me in a no parking zone in the bike lane, etc, that I have seen in the US, makes me dread this kind of road.
Skimming the other posts here, people are drawing American conclusions on how drivers would behave. And can you blame them? Drivers have gotten away with slaps on the wrists for killing cyclists and pedestrians for too long in America. 
These edge lane roads only work if drivers believe that cyclists also belong on the road. But that isn't the case in America.
Unless the States start punishing distracted driving, and enforce stricter licensing requirements, we'll continue to rely on urban planners to protect other road users with infrastructure against idiocy.
 - https://www.vice.com/en/article/9bzdpv/you-can-kill-anyone-y...
As an American, it could be that I've experienced and heard of active hostility to bicyclists. It seems like a uniquely stupid American thing. I'm sorry if this is also the case in Europe.
Yeah but it's not (it shouldn't be) important for every road. And that's the point. We want roads that drivers prefer for "enjoyment" (I have never enjoyed driving a vehicle) and roads that optimize for bicycle rider and pedestrian enjoyment. The drivers can stay on the driver roads and bicycle riders and pedestrians can stay on the bicycle and pedestrian roads.
It is important for every road, but sometimes it makes sense to prioritize other traffic types (which is why the OP is reasonable in some circumstances).
> I have never enjoyed driving a vehicle
You are not a modal American in this regard.
I grant you that it certainly is a criterion for optimization, but I would call it important only for race tracks, not public roads.
Somewhere on the pareto frontier. You can do a good job for most of them.
> but I would call it important only for race tracks, not public roads.
Utility theory doesn't stop working off a race track.
Because I like it when people enjoy things. Do you not?
> and in particular why drivers only?
Where did I imply "drivers only"?
You only mention enjoyment of drivers in an article about shared roadways. Omitting cyclist is a statement I would argue.
If you do it naturally people can figure it out: make the road very narrow but technically wide enough for two cars and people will hug the center naturally.
The strange part about this road is that there were so many lines by the edge of the road, that's legitimately pretty confusing. I'm not sure if it's confusing in an unsafe way, but it's definitely uncomfortable.
I'd love to know if someone has a link to someone knowledgeable comparing "all these lines for edge lanes" to "just don't draw anything".
It is darkly amusing to see a lot of motorists being upset by finally seeing this arrangement in a format they can understand - dashed and solid painted lines.
try going to a community meeting and suggesting that a "share the road" sign be replaced with a "cyclists may use full lane" sign and see how much pushback you get.
In my experience—at least in Seattle which is more bike friendly than baseline in the US but certainly not on par with Portland—drivers are far more likely to yield to cyclists with these markings than where a bike lane is present. In contrast, I’ve had drivers try to run me off the road, screaming mad, when I had the gall to perfectly legally ride in the main road where a bike lane was present. Even when there was plenty of space for them to pass.
2: Several of my cyclist friends disagree with me on this, but I find the particular bike lane exceedingly dangerous. I frequently avoided it when it was on my daily commute route, after numerous frightening close calls. Riding along with the aggressive drivers really did feel safer.
My towns main street has sharrows directly in the "door zone" between the street parking and the traffic.
And of course all the normal criticisms of sharrows hold. Mainly that they're much more visible to cyclists than to cars, creating a false sense of security where cyclists feel entitled to a lane while drivers disagree.
It almost feels like it works better unmarked.
Most commonly you find them down very old, narrow, country lanes, where there simply isn’t space for true segregation. But equally, there’s usually no need to use these roads a cyclist, as there are normally more direct dedicated cycle routes. You frequently only use them because your specifically looking for a scenic route, or something a little unusual to cycle down.
In other parts of the world, they will also have their place in space constraint locations, or in large networks of small country lanes, where providing segregated infrastructure simply isn’t possible or viable due to lack of space, or extremely low volumes of traffic.
I personally think the UK could benefit substantially from these types of roads, if country lanes where converted. The lanes are barely big enough for bi-directional motor traffic, and occasionally not even that wide. Providing edge lane roads would encourage motor traffic to remain in the centre of the road, where they’re substantially less likely to collide with cycle or pedestrian traffic, which may be hidden around one of the many blind corners.
It's not better than a properly separated bike path, but it is better than a painted bicycle gutter that motorists are comfortable driving 50mph inches from.
Except given American drivers insistence on their own primacy and infallibility on the road, I can’t envision an edge lane working.
The main road closest to my house was recently (3 years ago) re-striped from two lanes each direction to 1 lane + bike lane. Car frequently ignore the bike markings and simply use the bike lane for aggressive passing of vehicles going the speed limit. I damn near got run down from behind by a bro-dozer making one of these aggressive moves in the bike lane.
Too many American drivers are self-entitled wankers, and suburban roads are too wide and too fast, for this to work. (Of course, wide road, no reason for this model, but I suspect American drivers simply wouldn’t tolerate this design)
Unless I've fundamentally misunderstood the concept.
But, when comparing paint with paint, this will slow drivers down more than the standard divided two car lane two way road they are accustomed to, due to the single center motorized lane that you pointed out.
As a commenter from the Netherlands pointed out somewhere else on this post, this paint only approach is supposed to just be one cost effective tool for very low throughout roads, the lower end of a panoply of system-level methods to design separation between ped, cycle, and car velocities, part of a system that first prioritizes proper cycleways over paint-only methods.
Unfortunately in North America we really have to crawl before we can walk on this one.
But, like you, I have questions about how this configuration would work (in the US, in my case). I can see it working well in towns and suburban roads in some European nations - I’m thinking Scotland here - where default speeds are lower, roads are already shared with parking (so single-tracking is a known procedure), and drivers generally aren’t assholes.
In the US, most suburban streets are posted at 25-40mph, and actual speeds tend to be higher yet, which seems WAY too fast for edge lane roads or any other mixed use roadway. Heck, in my area, we have dedicated (but not protected) bike lanes and on some roads, they’re downright scary because the traffic 3’ away is going 50mph.
the important bit is segregating traffic by inertia and mass. i'd personally love to see all the car/truck thoroughfares (roads) put underground, with people getting explicit priority on the above-ground, mixed-use streets.
One of these roads is two blocks away from me. I’m going to go have a look at it later today, but the road it’s on is very similar to the road I live on: two direction street, residential parking on both sides, not four car widths’ wide, so people are already “taking turns” and used to it.
I bet it works exactly like the street I live on, only using more paint.
I think it's a little naive to imagine it would work in north america. drivers here need more than a gentle reminder to not run other users off the road.
Upper middle class folks are much less likely to kill you regardless of what sort of road they're on (I can pretty much predict the probability of bad interactions simply based on looking at what folks are driving). And in the absence of any effective law enforcement with regards to traffic laws improving your priors is fundamental.
(Heck in the WA state 10% of fatal crashes are due drivers who don't even have a license at all
- apologies for the cert warning on the above)
And the other thing to look for is narrow streets (big feature of my neighborhood here) which keeps vehicle speeds down.
And don't bike after 10 PM at night (that's what buses and Uber is for) - too many impaired drivers after that point.
And keep in mind that separated infrastructure does little or nothing at intersections and driveways. There's a notorious separated lane across I-5 from me where lots of my friends have had bad interactions (including injuries) at parking garage driveways (a particularly nasty case is associated with the garage for a medical practice - we theorize that folks are coming out after unhappy doc visits distracted by the prospect of looming financial ruin - another US-specific feature ;-)
I take the lane there (which is scary as it makes drivers cranky, but again given the demographics they're not homicidal (at least so far)) but it beats getting squashed by someone speeding out of the garage.
I think the way forward in the US lies in achieving automated (and therefore safe and cheap) public-ish transport so we can give an alternative to the folks that can't drive safely and get them from behind the wheel. Short of that infrastructure (if built correctly) can be helpful but like bike helmets gets way more attention than warranted.
Even after decades of use, they still confuse the road users. Cyclists that think of them as bicycle lanes (wrong), and most motorists that think of them as just a part of their normal car lane (right).
My heuristic has always been 'if you can create it with a bucket of paint and a brush it is not a bicycle path'.
E-bikes are going to change the dynamic, but you’re taking a huge risk on the roads around here for the time being.
Depending on the country and the governing agency, this roadway type can have different names. Examples include: 2-minus-1 roads (New Zealand, Denmark), Edge Lane Road (Denmark, US), Advisory Shoulders (U.S. Federal Highway Administration), Schutzstreifen (Germany), Suggestiestrook (Netherlands), and Advisory Bike Lanes (US).
There also really needs to be more aggressive standards for participation in transportation planning. I see way too many “ideas guys” playing engineer. I’m looking at you, landscape architects!
...or distracted or impaired motorists drifting out of the center and taking out motorists?
teenagers using both lanes to race each other...
the list goes on and on...
Perhaps not so well.
This seems like a great way to produce head on collisions.