The Bikes Belong Foundation has chosen six cities to fast track physically protected bikeway designs that make cycling safer and more accessible to a wide range of people.
Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco and Washington D.C. will receive a leg up from Bikes Belong’s new “Green Lane Project.” The two-year, intensive technical assistance program is intended to help these cities develop protected on-street bike lanes and make this type of bike infrastructure a mainstream street design in the U.S.
The program attracted a total of 42 applicants, said project director Martha Roskowski, from “established leaders such as Minneapolis and Boulder” to relative newcomers like Wichita, Miami, and Pittsburgh.
“They are a range of sizes, spread across the country, and at various stages in terms of developing networks for bicycles,” said Roskowski. “What they share is a strong commitment to rethinking how city streets are used and making room for bicycles.”
Bikes Belong expects cities across the nation to benefit from the program, whether or not they were selected. The idea is to help build technical expertise on the design and implementation of protected bike lanes, and to collect data on how they perform.
Protected bike lanes are widely employed in countries that have achieved high rates of cycling, such as the Netherlands. In America they were pioneered by the New York City Department of Transportation in 2007, and have since been implemented in Washington, D.C., Portland, and Chicago.
Protected lanes have been shown to be safer than biking in the street and more likely to encourage people to take up cycling. But they are considered “experimental” treatments in the gospel of traffic engineering, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which has stymied their adoption throughout the United States.
“The selected cities have ambitious goals and a vision for bicycling supported by their elected officials and communities,” said Bikes Belong President Tim Blumenthal. “They are poised to get projects on the ground quickly and will serve as excellent examples for other interested cities.”
The Green Lane Project represents a more focused iteration of the Bikes Belong Foundation’s Bicycling Design Best Practices Program, which has been dedicated to hosting workshops and taking city officials and engineers on study tours to leading U.S. and European cities.