Beyond Bike Lanes

| May-June 2010

  • Better Bike Lanes

    image by Jay Lawrence/Polara Studio /

  • Better Bike Lanes

Despite a recent boom in the number of U.S. bicyclists, fewer than 1 percent of us regularly bike to work. According to the January 2010 Governing magazine, a number of city planners see that statistic as evidence “that some more radical bicycling strategies are in order.”

“It’s time to think beyond bike lanes, [the planners] say, and start using bike-only traffic signals, traffic-protected ‘cycle-tracks,’ and other street designs that are common in European cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where up to 40 percent of all trips are made on two wheels.”

Obstacles to achieving this sort of Scandinavian efficiency include red tape, legal concerns, and wariness about departing from the bible of urban street design, the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which has been slow to adopt bike-friendly designs.

The good news is that forward thinkers at the National Association of City Transportation Officials, representing more than a dozen major cities, have banded together to launch Cities for Cycling, an information clearinghouse that allows municipalities to experiment with nonstandard designs and share best practices. Portland, Oregon, is already forging ahead with bike boxes, marked areas at intersections that allow bikes to wait at red lights in front of cars.

9/3/2010 7:35:26 PM

I'm sure that people wish to live healthy long lives.Riding a bike truly helps and its great fun too!

Stephen Sloot_1
6/4/2010 2:20:01 PM

I live in Vancouver (hilliest city in Canada, I'm sure. Maybe even North America). The City has just dedicated $25M to bike infrastructure and planning. This is 1/3 of the municipal transportation budget (not including the provincial or federal transportation budget). This is big. We have a very low rider-ship rate at this point. But our plans are still largely destined for bike-ways...and with a lot of heeing and hawing about it from taxi drivers and car-commuters. As a 31 year old hardcore commuter (32km return ride everyday, rain or shine...and we get more rain than Seattle!) I think we can go a lot further. Keep the articles coming.

Doug Lass_4
4/27/2010 10:53:08 AM

I just turned 60 and have not had a bike in several years, but am planning to get one in the near future. For some of my purchases I have to go to out of town at least 15 miles, which I have to use my car, but for the majority of of my purchases are here in town where I could use a bike. That would cut down on the emissions that I would produce!

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