Monday, April 18, 2016

More Protected Bikes Lanes Bring Out the Cyclists

Protected bike lanes are critical for the growth of cycling in the city. And cities around the world that add protected lanes have seen large growth in the numbers of cyclists who now feel safe enough to get out and ride. 

Protected bike lanes use road furniture like plastic posts that separate traffic from cyclists. 

And numerous studies have shown that business increases along roads that have protected bike lanes since people feel safe enough to travel by bike and stop at the shops to purchase what they need or stop at cafes to enjoy the day. 

Milwaukee is beginning to be a great city for cycling. For one, it's relatively flat, making the trip in the city less intimidating. And there's great bike trails like the Oak Leaf and Hank Aaron. 

But commuting and daily cycling in the city are still challenging due to lack of protected bike lanes. Some streets, like Second Street in the Walkers Point neighborhood, have been repainted with wide bike lanes. 

Painted bike lanes aren't enough. The paint wears off - from cars driving on them! Read this from Streetsblog about Minneapolis bike lanes.  
Shaffer notes that drivers respect curbs more than paint. What Minneapolis needs now, he says, is protected bike lanes.
Cities like Austin, TX have seen massive growth in cycling when they take the leap and add protected bike lanes. Like this: 

... the big draws of such bike lanes are that they are much more visible, which makes people notice them and consider biking for transportation, and that they seem to be much safer at a glance, which has the same effect. Furthermore, in both instances above, there were flexposts present, which further increase safety, sense of safety, and visibility.

Treehugger reports on this increase but questions whether the two-way protected lanes installed by Austin are the best idea. 

Perhaps sensing the tide shift, many state Departments of Transportation are working to build more protected bike lanes, says the State Smart Transportation Initiative.
Four other states, in addition to California, Massachusetts, and Tennessee, have at least partially opened the door to protected facilities by formally endorsing NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide, while others are currently reviewing their own state design standards to make room for innovative new design practices.
Since we know that neighborhoods and the businesses that operate there do better with protected bike lanes, people in several cities around the country have taken matters into their own hands, as reported by the New York Times
Pacello stresses that a Better Block event is the beginning of a process. “If you do it and walk away, it’s not going to happen,” he said. “It would be silly to suggest [the improvement] is a direct result of this event. It’s the result of those neighborhoods putting together the organization and leadership to revitalize themselves. It serves as a catalyst for building social capital within neighborhoods — if we can do this, we can do other things.”