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Author Topic: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?  (Read 28560 times)

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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #50 on: August 13, 2012, 05:44:28 PM »

http://abetter54.com/54.html

Here is the latest design. Unlike your UK case their purpose is to mollify locals who want a better road but that road has volumes of 1-6000vpd and has experienced little traffic growth.
The states just dont have the money(5-10 million a mile) to spend on those.
This Missouri case is a perfect example It carries about 3500vpd and was once planned as 4 lane divided
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #51 on: August 16, 2012, 02:06:52 PM »

Suicide lane does not equal Two-way left turn lane

I don't believe anyone in this thread said it did. I used the phrase "suicide left-turn lane" because that's what most people I know call that type of lane, but if you look back, I mentioned it specifically in response to the comment from PHLBOS, who noted that many three-lane roads have the center lane set up as a shared left-turn lane.

I think your point might be seen as "not all suicide lanes are left-turn lanes, but all center left-turn lanes shared by opposing traffic are a type of suicide lane."
A true suicide lane is termed that because traffic tends to be going very fast, and in many cases speeding up, when using a suicide lane.

In a 2-way left turn lane, traffic is slowing down or stopped, minimizing the potential for fatals in such a lane.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #52 on: August 16, 2012, 06:16:33 PM »

http://abetter54.com/54.html

Here is the latest design. Unlike your UK case their purpose is to mollify locals who want a better road but that road has volumes of 1-6000vpd and has experienced little traffic growth.
The states just dont have the money(5-10 million a mile) to spend on those.
This Missouri case is a perfect example It carries about 3500vpd and was once planned as 4 lane divided

Speaking of Missouri, I saw on MoDOT's website this page on Alternating Four-Lane Roads.
http://www.modot.org/Shared4-Lane/Shared4Lane.htm
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #53 on: February 05, 2014, 01:13:07 PM »

resurrecting this thread to show a suicide lane still in active use as of several days ago.  photo taken in Peru by a motorcycle adventurer named John Downs - I don't think he'd be too objecting to me using his photo here.


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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #54 on: February 05, 2014, 03:40:33 PM »

A true suicide lane is termed that because traffic tends to be going very fast, and in many cases speeding up, when using a suicide lane.

In a 2-way left turn lane, traffic is slowing down or stopped, minimizing the potential for fatals in such a lane.
What's it called when a 2-lane (1 each way) road allows unrestricted passing in both directions? I would imagine that is much more dangerous. Yet, I see it all the time. Portions of NJ 47 come to mind off the top of my head.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #55 on: February 05, 2014, 03:48:44 PM »

A true suicide lane is termed that because traffic tends to be going very fast, and in many cases speeding up, when using a suicide lane.

In a 2-way left turn lane, traffic is slowing down or stopped, minimizing the potential for fatals in such a lane.
What's it called when a 2-lane (1 each way) road allows unrestricted passing in both directions? I would imagine that is much more dangerous. Yet, I see it all the time. Portions of NJ 47 come to mind off the top of my head.

Just a two-lane road.  What made the "suicide" lane dangerous was the fact that both sides could use it with no restrictions what-so-ever.  Thus, the potential for head-on collisions was high.  It's not quite as near as high on a typical two-lane road.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #56 on: February 05, 2014, 04:05:08 PM »

Were people not educated about the idea of yielding to people already in the lane?  Seems to me the dynamics are like a two lane road, except you only deal with other passing traffic, not every single car going the other way.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #57 on: February 05, 2014, 04:18:34 PM »

A true suicide lane is termed that because traffic tends to be going very fast, and in many cases speeding up, when using a suicide lane.

In a 2-way left turn lane, traffic is slowing down or stopped, minimizing the potential for fatals in such a lane.
What's it called when a 2-lane (1 each way) road allows unrestricted passing in both directions? I would imagine that is much more dangerous. Yet, I see it all the time. Portions of NJ 47 come to mind off the top of my head.

Just a two-lane road.  What made the "suicide" lane dangerous was the fact that both sides could use it with no restrictions what-so-ever.  Thus, the potential for head-on collisions was high.  It's not quite as near as high on a typical two-lane road.
You're saying https://www.google.com/maps/preview/@39.216319,-74.914396,3a,75y,270.15h,73.25t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s1VDhJu8eJUcqSC5wzCgq5g!2e0 is not dangerous at 50 MPH?
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 05:06:11 PM by bzakharin »
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #58 on: February 05, 2014, 05:37:49 PM »

A true suicide lane is termed that because traffic tends to be going very fast, and in many cases speeding up, when using a suicide lane.

In a 2-way left turn lane, traffic is slowing down or stopped, minimizing the potential for fatals in such a lane.
What's it called when a 2-lane (1 each way) road allows unrestricted passing in both directions? I would imagine that is much more dangerous. Yet, I see it all the time. Portions of NJ 47 come to mind off the top of my head.

Just a two-lane road.  What made the "suicide" lane dangerous was the fact that both sides could use it with no restrictions what-so-ever.  Thus, the potential for head-on collisions was high.  It's not quite as near as high on a typical two-lane road.
You're saying https://www.google.com/maps/preview/@39.216319,-74.914396,3a,75y,270.15h,73.25t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s1VDhJu8eJUcqSC5wzCgq5g!2e0 is not dangerous at 50 MPH?

What's wrong with that at 50 mph?  It's got good sight lines, and the curves have no passing zones.  I use roads signed for 55 mph on a daily basis that are similar, and people usually go 60 mph on them with no incident.

Hell, roads like that are signed for 70 mph out west.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #59 on: February 05, 2014, 05:54:51 PM »

To me, what makes a 3-lane more dangerous is that two vehicles from opposite directions could attempt to enter it at the same time.
With a standard two-lane highway, you don't have that possibility.
It's "is oncoming traffic present? Yes or no"; not "will oncoming traffic randomly enter the center lane at the same time as me?"

These were eliminated a long time ago for a very good reason, and the should remain extinct.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #60 on: February 05, 2014, 06:00:53 PM »

Ok, you have a point. I still wouldn't be comfortable passing, and have seen those who do do it in pretty dangerous situations (as in oncoming traffic is present, but far enough away that they think it will be ok)
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #61 on: February 05, 2014, 06:30:31 PM »

"will oncoming traffic randomly enter the center lane at the same time as me?"


if someone's already in the lane, they've got it.  don't enter.

otherwise, don't enter if you cannot immediately withdraw again.  that way, two people who enter at the same time will each realize their folly and hopefully at least one will abort the pass.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #62 on: February 05, 2014, 06:34:52 PM »

In California, the last section of "old style" three lane on US 99 was eliminated in 1960, just north of Fresno. This section was featured in the opening of "Psycho", complete with a "Three Lane Ahead" sign. The last section, to my knowledge, of "old style" three lane in California was on US 6 (Sierra Highway) in Santa Clarita in 1968, between San Fernando Road and Soledad Canyon Road. A small section still remains, complete with striping, near San Fernando Road. I've seen newer sections of "modern" three lane, where there is an uphill climbing lane and the downhill side can also pass. State 36 has a stretch east of Red Bluff.

The section of US 99 from Grapevine south to Los Angeles was fully upgraded to expressway by 1951. It was by far the busiest section and had over 20% truck traffic, increasing the need for passing on the long grades over the mountains. Grapevine Grade was the first to be upgraded in 1943 and Five Mile Grade / Three Mile Grade in 1948.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #63 on: February 05, 2014, 09:26:15 PM »

To me, what makes a 3-lane more dangerous is that two vehicles from opposite directions could attempt to enter it at the same time.
With a standard two-lane highway, you don't have that possibility.
It's "is oncoming traffic present? Yes or no"; not "will oncoming traffic randomly enter the center lane at the same time as me?"

These were eliminated a long time ago for a very good reason, and the should remain extinct.
I'd be far more comfortable passing people on a three lane road than a two lane one.  On a two lane road you either risk a collision or have to gun it up to 80 or 90 to pass the idiot going 5 mph slower than you want to go.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #64 on: February 05, 2014, 09:31:42 PM »

It's possible to have a three-lane road where both directions can pass yet one still has right-of-way over the other. Put the 'centerline' on one side of the middle lane and allow passing from the one-lane direction.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #65 on: February 06, 2014, 10:54:23 AM »

It's possible to have a three-lane road where both directions can pass yet one still has right-of-way over the other. Put the 'centerline' on one side of the middle lane and allow passing from the one-lane direction.

That's a pretty common setup in Kentucky where we have lengthy truck lanes. In those cases, where passing zones are permitted for the single lane, there are usually regulatory signs posted stating, "Pass Only When Center Lane Is Clear."

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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #66 on: February 06, 2014, 04:15:06 PM »

It's possible to have a three-lane road where both directions can pass yet one still has right-of-way over the other. Put the 'centerline' on one side of the middle lane and allow passing from the one-lane direction.

I've seen that fairly frequently. In the instances where I've seen it, essentially the striping is like a two-lane road with one side having an extra lane off to the side. As hbelkins notes, I've seen that in connection with climbing lanes fairly often if the grade is long and straight so as to allow traffic heading downhill to pass. I think that's one reason why I treat the climbing lane as though it were a normal lane—I drive in it under my standard principle of keeping to the right, and if there's a passing zone for the other side it's all the more reason why I stay to the right because it makes it easier if someone going the other way does want to pass.

I don't recall seeing the sort of sign hbelkins describes (that doesn't mean I haven't seen it, just that I don't recall it, and I've never been to Kentucky), but the striping of the sort shown in the Street View image linked below is what I'm visualizing and in that context normally the "Pass When Clear" is to be understood.

Here is a Street View example from Nova Scotia on a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway that was not yet dualized.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #67 on: February 06, 2014, 07:51:34 PM »

It's possible to have a three-lane road where both directions can pass yet one still has right-of-way over the other. Put the 'centerline' on one side of the middle lane and allow passing from the one-lane direction.

The Chickasaw Turnpike has a brief section like this. In fact, it's striped with broken lines for all three lanes, so, theoretically, eastbound traffic (heading in the two-lane direction) could use the westbound lane to pass three abreast! Of course, that would require three cars to be using the turnpike at the same time, which isn't likely...
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #68 on: February 06, 2014, 07:55:22 PM »


The Chickasaw Turnpike has a brief section like this. In fact, it's striped with broken lines for all three lanes, so, theoretically, eastbound traffic (heading in the two-lane direction) could use the westbound lane to pass three abreast! Of course, that would require three cars to be using the turnpike at the same time, which isn't likely...

I've seen that setup elsewhere, but cannot remember offhand where.  it may have been in Mexico, which has its own suicide lane standards.  a road is striped as a two-lane with wide shoulders.  in case of needing to pass, the vehicle being passed moves to the right, the vehicle coming in the opposite direction moves to its right, and the pass is executed down the middle.

(do not try that in the US, btw.  I've passed a car with Mexico plates going only half over the dotted yellow line, but that was with no oncoming traffic - I would not have trusted oncoming traffic to know what to do in the US.)
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #69 on: February 06, 2014, 09:31:20 PM »

I think that's one reason why I treat the climbing lane as though it were a normal lane—I drive in it under my standard principle of keeping to the right, and if there's a passing zone for the other side it's all the more reason why I stay to the right because it makes it easier if someone going the other way does want to pass.

Kentucky's signage is very inconsistent in this regard. In some places, the regulatory signs will say "Slower Traffic Keep Right," while in other places it will say "Keep Right Except To Pass."

Quote
I don't recall seeing the sort of sign hbelkins describes (that doesn't mean I haven't seen it, just that I don't recall it, and I've never been to Kentucky), but the striping of the sort shown in the Street View image linked below is what I'm visualizing and in that context normally the "Pass When Clear" is to be understood.

I wanted to link to the Street View example of a sign of which I'm aware not too far from where I live, but you couldn't read the sign.
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #70 on: February 07, 2014, 11:53:16 AM »

In México, there is a common type of highway which has nearly the same function but different lane striping.  I refer to the highway classification officially called Tipo A2 and commonly called Supercarretera.

On an A2 highway, the shoulder lines are dashed (somewhere between dotted and dashed on a typical US highway), and are intended to facilitate passing even with oncoming traffic.  Slower vehicles and oncoming vehicles ride the shoulder lines to allow a passing vehicle down the center line.

I drew up a quick MSPaint illustration of a typical A2 section (on the left) and what a highway with a suicide lane and 11-foot lane widths might look like in the US.



The main difference is that, on an A2 highway, the shoulder can still be used as a breakdown lane, where as there's basically no room for breakdowns with a suicide lane, at least without widening the roadway.
The A2 would never work in the US, without a whole-sale change in people's attitudes when they drive.  If it's hard enough to get people to keep right except to pass on 4 lane roads, how are we ever going to encourage people to pull into the shoulder to let faster drivers pass? 

With regard to other 3 lane roads, I'm glad suicide lanes are eliminated in this country.  The proper thing to do for a long stretch of non-curvy 3 lane rural road is to have alternating passing zones.  Let's say maybe 1/2 mile of 2 lanes east and one lane west, followed by 2 lanes west and one lane east.  The left lane would be for passing only, but only in one direction.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2014, 10:35:33 PM by Alps »
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #71 on: February 07, 2014, 03:20:42 PM »

Idaho allows that sort of passing on passing lanes, and typically uses this sign for traffic that is allowed to use the oncoming direction's passing lane.



Page 24 of this pdf http://www.itd.idaho.gov/manuals/Manual%20Production/Traffic/200PavtMkgs.pdf shows how it is used in the field.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2014, 03:25:19 PM by corco »
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #72 on: February 07, 2014, 03:38:24 PM »

Looking at the second picture in corco's post coupled with the referenced .PDF link, I gather the situation there is essentially the same as what's shown in the Nova Scotia Street View link I posted further up the thread, correct? That is, traffic going the direction shown in this picture has the yellow stripe to the left denoting a passing zone, while traffic coming the other way has two lanes separated by standard white skip lines?

In that situation, I think the sign might be useful reinforcement for some people, but I'd presume the way the yellow line is striped denotes that anyway—if you want to pass over that sort of yellow line, you must yield to anyone coming the other direction regardless of whether that person has an empty lane to his right, because when you cross that line you're on the "wrong side of the road."

(Practically speaking, I'd yield even if I didn't have to do so if the alternative is getting into a wreck. Being "right" is no good if you're "dead right.")
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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #73 on: February 07, 2014, 06:18:26 PM »

Correct.

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Re: Rural 3-lane roads: 1950s suicide lane, or modern efficient highway?
« Reply #74 on: February 11, 2014, 10:35:56 PM »

In México, there is a common type of highway which has nearly the same function but different lane striping.  I refer to the highway classification officially called Tipo A2 and commonly called Supercarretera.

On an A2 highway, the shoulder lines are dashed (somewhere between dotted and dashed on a typical US highway), and are intended to facilitate passing even with oncoming traffic.  Slower vehicles and oncoming vehicles ride the shoulder lines to allow a passing vehicle down the center line.

I drew up a quick MSPaint illustration of a typical A2 section (on the left) and what a highway with a suicide lane and 11-foot lane widths might look like in the US.



The main difference is that, on an A2 highway, the shoulder can still be used as a breakdown lane, where as there's basically no room for breakdowns with a suicide lane, at least without widening the roadway.
The A2 would never work in the US, without a whole-sale change in people's attitudes when they drive.  If it's hard enough to get people to keep right except to pass on 4 lane roads, how are we ever going to encourage people to pull into the shoulder to let faster drivers pass? 

With regard to other 3 lane roads, I'm glad suicide lanes are eliminated in this country.  The proper thing to do for a long stretch of non-curvy 3 lane rural road is to have alternating passing zones.  Let's say maybe 1/2 mile of 2 lanes east and one lane west, followed by 2 lanes west and one lane east.  The left lane would be for passing only, but only in one direction.
The A2 works in Texas and Oklahoma. It's the other 48 states that have problems with letting people pass.

 


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