I ran into a post over at blog.cyclosity.com regarding UPS trucks that apparently continue to park in bike lanes. The whole idea of bike lane obstructions is probably something that most commuters are familiar with.
One of the most important rules of being safe while riding in traffic is to be consistent and predictable. You are at much higher risk if getting tangled up with a car a you move out of the bike lane than you are while riding in the bike lane – or even out of the bike lane and in traffic. This is one of the common mistakes made by newer commuters. You will see folks that will take every opportunity to get as far right next to the curb as possible – say, in a stretch of road where there are not as many parked cars. Unfortunately, this forces them to move out into traffic when they come up to a parked car.
Here in Sacramento, I don’t run into UPS trucks so much. However, there are two things that are a constant issue with bike lanes – especially this time of year. The first is garbage cans that are put out for trash pickup. With the parking scarcity that exists for many midtown residents, there is no curbside space available. Therefore, garbage cans inevitably end up at the next closest location – right smack in the bike lane.
The other, more persistent issue is caused by Sacramento’s curbside yard waste recycling program. While reportedly being phased out in favor of a containerized solution, you can still get the “street scraper” service. For those outside of the Sacramento area, the service uses tractors with large clam-shell scoops on them. The idea is that residents can literally create a pile of yard waste right in the road and the tractors will come by one a week to pick them up. While this may seem like complete madness to some, it actually has some reasonable thought behind it. Sacramento is filled with deciduous trees, resulting in large piles of leaves appearing in the streets naturally in fall.
Right or wrong, however, the constant presence of garbage cans and yard waste in the bike lanes can often render the otherwise excellent (and getting excellent-er) network of bike lanes in Sacramento less than desirable.