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Cyclists, Rejoice: Protected Bike Lanes Are Being Built More Safely

Cyclists, Rejoice: Protected Bike Lanes Are Being Built More Safely

Written by Michael Graham Richard

Physically separated bike lanes are awesome. They’re good forsafety, theyincrease the number of people who cycle, they’regood for business, etc. What’s not to like?

But good things can getbetter. There’s been a boom in protected bike lanes in the U.S. in the past 5 years, and most of them use parked cars or plastic poles to keep the bike lane separated from the car lanes. That works, but it’s not ideal, and so the next generation of protected bike lanes have started to use more permanent curbs to protect cyclists.People for Bikes reports:

In Chicago, Clybourn Avenue and State Street are likely to get the city’s first curb-separated bike lanes. In Seattle, the city has used two wholesale road reconstructions, on Linden Avenue and Broadway, as chances to install cement curb separations. In Austin, two blocks of 3rd Street downtown are now fitted with modular precast curbs to create a protected bike lane. And Long Beach, Calif., has been using curbs for protected bike lanes since 2011.

Chicago bike project manager Mike Amsden said Chicago plans to eventually upgrade all its plastic posts to permanent infrastructure. [...] The sense that a curb can fit more gracefully than posts into the feel of a street “goes a long way to selling these projects to people who may not care about bikes,” Amsden added.

Many other cities are already building these, or looking into them. I know that Ottawa, Canada, close to where I live has some protected bike lanes that use curbs (though they are a bit too high, more on that below).

Make sure to use bike-friendly curbs…

As commenter ‘Falbo’ pointed out on People for Bikes:

Curbs a great, but please use bicycle-friendly curbs. One of the subtle details of dutch and danish cycle tracks is the use of short (3″) angled curbs, to maximize operating space.

Full height vertical 6″ curbs are not bicycle friendly. Riders risk hitting their pedals on them, and must shy away, reducing the useful space in the cycle track. Having two full height curbs on each side of a narrow cycle track is a bad idea.

That’s very important. You don’t want to inadvertently create a new danger for cyclists, even if overall the curb adds security.

This post was originally published in TreeHugger

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Photo Credit: citymaus

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49 comments

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8:28PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

I wish our city had one.

10:00PM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Thanks. I'm not sure if I got the right idea about "curbs". Maybe a diagram or sketch might have helped.

9:36PM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Thanks.

1:07PM PST on Jan 15, 2014

This is good news. I see more and more people riding bikes these days, even in freezing cold weather. I think we would see those numbers increase if it were more safe.

12:55PM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Having good bike lanes makes a big difference. I am fortunate to live in a city (Oldenburg, Germany) where all major roads have them, and they are usually next to the sidewalk, a few inches above street level. As a result, little children cycle to preschool and seniors in their 70s or 80s often continue to ride their bikes. Personally, I never got a driver's license because I have never felt the need to have a car.

11:10AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

I'm all for safety and encouraging cycling! Thank you for sharing.

10:47AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Now it's just up to impatient drivers to keep it safe

10:36AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Good news!

10:16AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Great idea.

By the way, drivers of cars and trucks, motorcyclists also have a right to use the road. Keep your eyes opened to bikers of all sorts -- whether on a bicycle or a motorcycle.

9:25AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Good News BUT where is their license Plates to help pay for these UPGRADED LANES!

Vehicle license plates help pay for road advancements and repairs so why Don't Bikes have License plates to help pay for their lanes and improvements?

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