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

Photo Credit: citymaus


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

JOSE Honr5 years ago

I wish our city had one.

Liliana Garcia
Liliana G5 years ago

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

Tish Levee
Tish Levee5 years ago


Valerie K.
Val K5 years ago

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.

Franziska Eber
Franziska Eber5 years ago

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.

Duane B.
.5 years ago

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

Spencer Young
Spencer Young5 years ago

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

Jen Matheson
Past Member 5 years ago

Good news!

Barbara L.
Past Member 5 years ago

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.