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How to use a Bike Box

The NYC DOT has been quietly rolling out dozens of bike boxes all over Gotham. (*Update: Official number is 60!) It's really quite remarkable. But since the majority of riders seem not to know what they are or how to use them just yet, StreetFilms thought this would be a fun way to educate cyclists to love and cherish the Bike Box.

*Addendum: Apparently so few New Yorkers know about bike boxes that even the New York Times screwed up in an article about Portland, Oregon installing new bike boxes!

"...the boxes, believed to be the first such to be put to use by any city in the country, will make cyclists even safer and more comfortable on the street, biking advocates and transportation officials say."

They should really check in with StreetFilms more often.

*AND we now have a sequel: Green Bike Box!

Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [0:02] 1: Bike box. Bike box. Bike box. Bike box. Bike box. No, it's not that. What are bike boxes? Bike boxes are also known as advanced stop lines. [0:19] Demonstrated in our lovely "before" diagram, you can see how if you had to make a right turn from a standard bike lane, you'd be competing with traffic. Now look at the magical "after" transformation. The stop bar for cars has been moved back a few feet and that space is afforded to cyclists. This gives you a head start. How cool.

[0:39] In the last year or so, tons of these bike boxes have been popping up all over New York City, but a lot of people don't know what to make of them. So how do you use it? Let me show you how to do it. It's so simple even a purple Zozo could do it. Bike box.

[0:55] As you approach the bike box at the end of your bike lane, and you're at the red light and you need to make a right-hand turn, you just come over and then you see the bike box. So here I am. The car is properly stopped at the stop bar. I'm on the bike logo, in the bike box, waiting for the light to turn green. There it goes. I go right into the intersection, and I make my right onto 6th Avenue.

[1:18] When I use a bike box, I feel just super that the city is showing me some bike love. So the next time you see a bike box, use it. It's for you. Bike box. Bike box.

[music]

[1:40]



Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • http://panix.com/~steveo steveo

    Nice job.

    I wish I knew how to slow it down so I could fully appreciate the looks on the faces of the passerby while you're boxing in the middle of the street!

  • http://azulebanana.com/anabananasplit anabananasplit

    That was a funny way of showing what this is. :-)

  • http://www.crankmychain.com Dan Kaufman

    It is Clarence he's a boxer, and a fighter by his trade
    And he carries the reminders of every car that laid him down or cut him
    'til they made bike boxes.

    But the fighter still remains
    Yes he still remains

  • http://www.gettingaroundportland.org Greg Raisman

    Thanks for another great video, Clarence. I'll share this widely as we follow New York's lead on the bike boxes.

    It's probably our fault that NYTimes gave that line. When we decided to move ahead with the bike boxes, we did a scan and did not see activity in other cities. We heard that there were one or two individual boxes, here or there, but that noone had instituted a program of them.

    So, in the local dialog, we've been saying that we will be the first that we are aware of to institute a bike box program.

    Sometimes, even in the "information age", the information ain't perfect. I'm glad we were wrong. Seems like cities should have started using these much sooner. It's another great leadership position that NYCDOT has taken with the boxes.

    Wish we had known about NYC's boxes. It's always good to have success breed success.

    Ours will be somewhat different than NYC's version. First, the whole box will be colored (green). Second, there will be a bike crossing that extends from the box into the intersection with color in the highest conflict area.

    NYC has a much easier time putting in bike boxes. If I'm right, there is NO RIGHT TURN ON RED in Manhattan. In Portland, RTOR is allowed and needs to be eliminated at all locations where we install bike boxes.

    With our 200 foot long blocks, there are some high volume places where the RTOR is an important part of making the traffic operation work. So, bike boxes are another tool that we can't install as widely as NYC.

    Thanks again for all the great work.

    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Office of Transportation

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

    Greg,

    Thanks for the notes. Actually the Times might be able to escape on one technicality - that Portland's boxes will be the first colored Bike Boxes. Haven't seen that here....well, not yet!

    Also: I will agree I did ALOT of research on-line and couldn't find any mention of Bike Boxes in NYC except our own articles on Streetsblog. But I knew they existed since my eyes have been working pretty well!

  • Dan Convissor

    Awesome! Didn't know we had bike boxes here. The new DOT is doing great things. Clarence, you're so damn funny, it's funny.

  • New Havener

    Awesome movie! We're working to install these in New Haven, too!

  • Lee

    How do you spell Bike Box?
    R-e-s-p-e-c-t the cyclist!
    Awesome!

  • G

    Does the installation of the bike boxes include follow-up funds to measure the increased cyclist and pedestrian right hook injuries and deaths (as seen in the copenhagen study http://tinyurl.com/3dlkbm table 3 in particular)

  • caryn Greenberg

    thank you Clarence, and what a good idea.

  • LL

    Top 10 Clarence, top 10. Well done!

  • http://bikeporntour.blogspot.com revphil

    BIKE BOX... a soon to be released revision of Mike Tyson's Punch Out!

    from Whamco

    "Round 1... FIGHT!"

  • Mark

    Let's take Clarence along on a ride. He'd be good for the cars that give us grief. No. Really, this is good!

  • http://publicpolity.wordpress.com Sam Clifford

    That Clarence, what a card!

  • http://humantransport.org Wayne Pein

    In Bikelaneland the Two Wheeled Woossies were unhappy. After a generation of dependency on Bike Reservations they'd lost the ability to leave them. "We turn out of our Bike Reservations and then get Zoinked by the Motortrons," they wimpered. "We need BikeBoxes to help us turn." The overlord Deep Purple Zozo decreed, "Woossies, you need BikeBoxes. But on one condition. You may never again enter Traffikania."

  • http://www.gettingaroundportland.org timo forsberg

    Yay Bike Boxes!
    As Greg (#5) mentioned, we're putting them down in Portland (as soon as the weather dries a bit). You can take a look at our design at this webpage:
    http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=46717&
    You'll see that Portland's Bike Boxes are designed primarily to protect cyclists who are proceeding straight ahead from motorists making right hooks across the bike lane. Oregon law prohibits motor vehicles from entering the bike lane to make a turn (which is how they do it in California).
    And to #7 - glad to hear it! As a native New Havener (Bristol Street represent!) I'm happy to know things are moving ahead in the old home town.

  • Trevor

    I love the "magic" that makes the same suicidal 90-degree crossing maneuver suddenly okay because of paint.
    It's a lot more fun and much safer to merge through the traffic to make your right turns from the same place everyone else is. You do know how to drive, don't you?

    If you are desparate for more bike love, why not ask the city for two bike lanes, one on each side of the one-way? Or free doughnuts for cyclists, I've always felt that would be fair.

  • Clarence

    Trevor,

    I have no idea who you are, but I think it is safe to say I am at least as an experienced cyclist as you and have long been devoting a heck of time (since 1994) to the movement.

    That might be an assumption on my part, but it is no less idiotic then the statement you make asking if I know how to drive.

    1 - I know how to drive, I do however, choose not to have a license. But I know driving law better then almost all drivers and certainly most cops.

    2 - I make my turns almost always as you say, by merging thru traffic. However, some people don't feel safe doing that.

    3 - The video is telling you how to use a bike box, because no one knew what they were in NYC. Do I use it as prescribed? Only if I get to a red light and want to move over once I am stuck on the other side.

    In short, people can make the move however they want, merge or wait for the red and slide over. I don't care, but this shows how the bike box works, simply that Trevor. I think you really need a donut to calm down.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/mepstein8 Mike Epstein

    A rare zozo preview, a year before his public unveiling! Who knew?!

  • tom murphy

    Let me see? Biker is in lane and on cell phone. OK. Biker makes right onto 6th Ave, does not yield to pedestrian in crossing lane. OK.

    Bikers are anarchists, so rules do not apply to them. OK.

    Real anarchists think rules do not apply to anyone, so what is the point of this?

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  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/galfromdownunder Galfromdownunder

    I just hope the cars know how to use the bike box - as in, not to cross into them. Since I still see cars overshooting red lights and blocking entire lanes with the green signal, I'm only barely hopeful... 
    Also, I'd like to see a rule for cars turning LEFT across a bike lane. Let's make the pedestrian crossing and the bike lane have equal right of way - meaning we get to cross when peds do!

  • Doc Wu

    This is just stupid. First of all, why is the bike lane on the left? Why not just ride in the lane appropriate for the turn? 

  • http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm billdav

    Because New York has a mandatory bike lane use law.  The bike box is a workaround for a flawed requirement that bicyclists behave in a way different from normal traffic.

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