Bike Lanes, Paths or Highways?

Friday, November 26 by sandy

Separate bike lanes and paths, or share the road? This is a lively debate in the bicycle advocacy community,? almost as controversial as whether bike helmets are good for cycling because they save lives or bad because they discourage too many potential cyclists (also known as the “dork factor”).

Some say paths separated from the roadway are safer and encourage more cyclists. But such paths are costly, have their own conflicts (different speeds among cyclists and between cyclists and pedestrians). Plus, the law says bicyclists have a right to the road (and must follow all the rules of the road). By taking their place in the road, share-the-road proponents say, drivers must acknowledge the presence of cyclists and either pass them safely or go at a slower speed. Poorly designed bike lanes, such as those too close to parked cars and/or traffic, might mean less safety, as one study found. The WWBPA has recommended a two-foot buffer between a lane of parked cars and a bike lane to prevent cyclists riding into a door that is being opened (“dooring”).

One idea in between is “bicycle boulevards,” which optimize low-volume and low-speed streets for bicycle travel and discourage cut-through vehicle traffic (a plus for residents!). In Denmark, Copenhagen is extending its bicycling network outward into the suburbs, creating what the blog Copenhagenize calls “bicycle superhighways,” for commutes of six miles or more. Other interesting ideas are “green wave” traffic lights, which coordinate the signal timing to hit green lights along your route, “branded” signage for specific routes, even bicycle service stations along the way.

What’s your take?

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