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Physically Separated Bike Lanes

Advocates from Transportation Alternatives, The Project for Public Spaces, and The Open Planning Project join "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz and Enrique Penalosa to call for New York City to consider experimenting with some form of physically separated bike lanes in the near future.

Physically Separated Bike Lanes - Paul White

Featuring ample footage and photos from over a dozen cities worldwide, this video makes the case that America is woefully behind the curve in protecting its cyclists in big cities.

Physically Separated Bike Lanes - Diagram

Though this video is NYC-centric in nature, all lessons and video easily apply to cities across the U.S.

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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  • Tallycyclist

    Excellent video and great points.  I live in Tallahassee that has a very scattered network of bike lanes with absolutely no connectivity to get through the city with such infrastructure.  I consider myself an experienced cyclist and have been doing all my commutes by bike for over 2 years now.  I cycle (and have to) on all sizes of roads, including ones with bike lanes, sharrows, a mixture of each depending what block you're on, or no infrastructure whatsoever.  Cycling next to parked cars is one of my biggest 'fears' as I do not want to get knocked over and crushed by a 10,000 lb vehicle.  

    Fortunately most of our bike lanes are found on streets that people don't want to park on anyway.  But there is one street, College Ave, which has lots of frat houses and so the bike lane on it (ironically one of the widest in the city) has rows of cars parked on it 24/7 throughout the year.  To me this is WORSE than useless.  You're constantly having to navigate in and out of the bike lane.  Sure you don't HAVE TO, but when drivers see one, they expect you to stay in one so unless you enjoy getting harassed, then it's a lose-lose situation.  

    In the US there seems to be lots of disagreements about whether it's safer to cross intersections on a shared road or separate infrastructure.  I've cycled in Copenhagen and felt safe at all junctions.  Why?  For one thing there are loads of cyclist at every intersection in the city, even during non-rush hour, so you have the safety in numbers.  Because so many people are cyclist drivers really do watch out for you before making right-turns.  At trickier intersections, cars are not allowed to turn right while cyclist have the green and vis versa.  You can still try and argue that this is not statistically safer (there's a variety of conflicting sources out there) but I and most everyday regular cyclist would agree that it FEELS safer to ride on a segregated facility than sharing with 10,000 + lb vehicles in a culture where many drivers don't like sharing with cyclist.  This is precisely why only 1% of Americans make commutes by bike, and most cyclists are recreational ones who drive to the park or trail.  What's the use of having a system that is safe if people don't feel SAFE ENOUGH to ever use it?  

    Danish and Dutch (especially) cities pretty much all have excellent facilities and have rates in the 30, 40 or even 50% (Groningen at 57%:  http://www.globalideasbank.org/site/bank/idea.php?ideaId=378) range of people commuting by bike.  So even if you want to go the stats route, it doesn't speak well for systems that lack GOOD separated infrastructure.

    On a final note.  Intersections are the places of the most frequent conflict, even in Denmark and Netherlands.  So?  They address these problems rather than question whether their segregated facilities work or not.  Check out David Hembrow's website with many examples on how junctions can be properly designed for cyclists in mind.  What NOT to do if you want good, segregated bike lanes?  Make it very narrow (1 m width), don't mark intersection crossings, give no priorities to cyclist when approaching side streets, make it go nowhere useful to commuters, don't develop a connected network and force cyclist to have to detour or ride on unpleasant stretches of road, have no enforcement when vehicles or other obstacles are placed in the bike lane, etc.  

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  • http://www.thekindcleaner.com.au/ Paul (The Kind Cleaner)

    It makes so much sense. But cities like mine, Adelaide, South Australia, just seem to procrastinate over the idea. 

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  • Doug M’Jay

    "Everybody's in a rush and nobody cares.  It's every man for himself."  Sounds like NYC, alright.

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  • carg8r

    Where is the enforcement?

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    Love this article. This information needs to be more readily available, so bikers stay safe everywhere!

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  • Tom

    Not a great idea to have parked cars opening their doors into a bike lane, surely?