A well-designed bike lane can make the road safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, and even drivers. They are key in efforts to increase cycling rates in cities.
The US has been notoriously slow to install protected bike lanes — in fact, there were only 78 bike lanes built nationwide between 1874 and 2011.
That’s 137 years, if you’re counting.
But the Green Lane Project is working to repair that legacy. In 2011, the project was created by bike advocacy group PeopleForBikes, and it has already nearly doubled the number of bike lanes in cities across America — to 138.
The predicted count is 210 by the end of this year.
And these lanes are no longer just simple white stripes of paint on the ground.
Here are Green Lane project editor Michael Andersen’s picks for America’s 10 best new bike lanes:
1. Polk Street, San Francisco
Before a bike lane was installed at Polk Street, bikers would have to brave a freeway or ride on the sidewalk illegally if they wanted to get from Market Street to Polk Street, according to San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. So it was a welcome project for bike commuters when this new bike lane was installed.
The bike lane itself is separated from car traffic with a curb median that is filled with local cacti. The bike lane also has bicycle traffic signals and vibrant green paint for high visibility.
The new lane connects two of the cities busiest bikeways.
2. 2nd Avenue, Seattle
In 2010, 2nd Avenue was called the “worst bike lane in the city.” The lane was full of obstacles, where a biker could be easily “doored,” hit by a car, or collide with one of the many cars that parked in the bike lane. Thus, many bikers were relieved when plans were announced in May of this year to build downtown Seattle’s first protected bike lane.
In September, the 10-foot wide bike lane was opened. The lane runs north and south, and is separated from car traffic by painted dividers. Plus, car parking is limited to off-hours along the street.
3. Riverside Drive, Memphis
“Instead of reopening all four lanes to auto traffic after Riverside’s annual closure for the Memphis in May festival, the city re-stripped half the street to create two lanes of car traffic,” writes Michael Andersen in People for Bikes.
The new lane runs one mile along the Mississippi River, and is a bidirectional median-protected bike lane and a walkway.
4. Rosemead Boulevard, Temple City
This bike lane, in the suburbs of Los Angeles, is an example of the success a bike lane can have outside a big city.
5. Furness Drive, Austin
After 17 years of planning and debate, a pedestrian bridge was opened over a creek that separates a neighbourhood from its elementary school. When the city finally decided to build the pedestrian bridge, they also decided to make a bi-directional protected bike lane.
The bike lane took a mere four days to install.
6. Broadway, Seattle
The new bike lane is Seattle is a two-way protected lane on a two-way streets.
The lane on Broadway makes sure to keep the bikes both separated and visible, with signal phasing and plenty of green paint.
7. SW Multnomah Boulevard, Portland
Portland is often called one of the best places for cycling in the US. The city recently invested $US2 million to build a few blocks of elevated bike lanes.
The new bike lane on SW Multnomah Boulevard is separated from auto traffic by its curb and a parking lane.
8. Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh
The bike lane on Penn Avenue was the first two-way protected bike lane in Pittsburgh, and the first stage of a new project to build a biking network that will link the city.
The project aims to make the entire city of Pittsburgh more bike friendly, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
9. King Street, Honolulu
When this bike lane opened in Honolulu two weeks ago, Hawaii became the 26th state to get a protected bike lane. The lane is notable for its two-mile length and use of parking stops to create a temporary curb.
10. Broadway, Chicago
The 1.2 miles lane on Broadway is protected with a buffer of paint lines that separates the bikes and cars.
“By converting a former four-lane speedway to two travel lanes, a turn lane, and protected lanes, the city transformed a hectic, dangerous stretch of Broadway into one that’s calmer and safer for pedestrians and drivers, as well as cyclists,” writes John Greenfield in Streetsblog Chicago.
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