Good news — in the last two years, nearly as many protected bike lanes came into being as were created in the previous 140 years in the United States. News such as this from People for Bikes and the Green Lane Project keeps us positive. With these wonderfully sane and protective lanes, for bicyclist and motorist alike, People for Bikes continues that, “between 1874 and 2011, only 78 of these facilities were built nationwide. By the end of 2014, 191 protected lanes were on the ground across the country.”
While protected bike lanes are the default in several European countries, people in many US cities are lucky if they get a simple white line to separated the roadway for cars and trucks with very narrow stretch of asphalt for bicyclists.
However, some smart cities are giving that simple white line and bike lane a makeover. In fact, in many cities across the US, protected bike lanes are adding physical separation such as a curb, median, green space, etc. How reasonable and kind. Even with parked cars or plastic posts between moving cars and bikes, one can breathe and glide much more easily, enjoying all the wonder that is there for a person on a bike when safely on a protected lane.
The facilities documented in the People For Bikes “Inventory of Protected Bike Lanes” stand as an ongoing reference to what will increase with the ongoing work of bicyclists, bicycle activists, and bicycle entrepreneurs. “The main purpose of the post is to share an updated inventory of current protected bike lanes in North America, which is available in Google Drive as well as for download.”
Unfortunately, this happy news does not reach as far as Sarasota, Florida, where we still have some of the worse streets in all of the US as far as pedestrian or bicyclist safety is concerned.
So many ways to do this….
Check out this community coalition, for example, which has worked to build 30 new miles of well-designed and protected bikeways in Minneapolis. “The group built 15 planters from plywood (it took 10 people working for three hours, and the cost was just $600), filled them with plants, and hauled them to the demonstration site, where they were set up in a long course on the street during an Open Streets Minneapolis event.”
A recent study informs us that bicyclists & protected bike lanes offer big savings to society. The study investigates various models of how bike infrastructure influences cities. It reasons that policies and projects supportive of bike lanes are deserving of the change; deserving of the money spent, which becomes money saved.
Bottom image by Paul Krueger (CC BY 2.0 license)