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Boulder Cyclists Ride to Protest Bike Lane Removal

Yesterday's protest. Photo:

Yesterday’s protest. Photo: Moishe Lettvin

Cyclists in Boulder took to the streets yesterday to protest the City Council’s unanimous decision Tuesday night to undo a large chunk of the Folsom Street protected bike lane.

A four-to-three-lane road diet and flexible posts to separate the bike lane from traffic had been installed on a 12- to 18-month trial basis, part of what the city called its “Living Labs” initiative, aimed at increasing the city’s bicycle mode share to 30 percent by 2035. Segments of the road diet and bike lane protection will now revert to the previous design after a scant couple of months.

The removal marks only the fourth time an American city will remove a modern protected bike lane, according to People for Bikes. By most measures, the bike lane was working well. But City Council members caved to pressure from motorists who complained about slightly longer travel times.

The ride was reminiscent of some of the 2012 protests in Toronto when former Mayor Rob Ford ordered the removal of the Jarvis Street bike lane.

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State Engineers Warm to Protected Bike Lanes for Next AASHTO Bike Guide

Linden Avenue, Seattle. AASHTO’s current manuals recommend against separating bike and car traffic with curbs or parked cars under any circumstances.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

The professional transportation engineers’ association that writes the book on U.S. street design is meeting this week in Seattle — and talking quite a bit about protected bike lanes.

As we reported in January, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is considering bringing protected bike lanes into the next edition of its widely used Guide for the Development of Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities.

For that to happen, AASHTO’s design committees will need to vote to include such designs. Based on interviews over the last few weeks, members have some disagreements over the issue but tend to agree that it’s important.

Tony Laird

Tony Laird of Wyoming DOT.

I asked Tony Laird, state highway development engineer at the Wyoming Department of Transportation and vice chair of AASHTO’s technical design committee on non-motorized transportation, what he saw as the major issues in the lead-up to AASHTO’s next bike guide.

“The hottest issue right now is what we’re calling protected bike lanes, what we called cycle tracks for a while,” Laird replied. “There’s a lot of demand for some guidance and consistency for what those look like… I think by the time we put together that new bike guide it’s going to have new guidance on protected bike lanes.”

Eric Ophardt of the New York State DOT, who also serves on the non-motorized committee, also cited new bike lane designs as the top issue he sees.

“The big thing is the bike paths and sidepaths that are being built all over this country,” he said.

Though physically separated bike lanes are only one of several issues on the committees’ plates, it’s one that people remain likely to disagree about.

Lynn Jonell Soporowski of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and another member of the non-motorized committee, is dubious about protected bike lanes, saying that Kentucky cities don’t have much room for such facilities.

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Massachusetts’ Bikeway Design Guide Will Be Nation’s Most Advanced Yet

Images from MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Bikeway design in this country keeps rocketing forward. The design guide that Massachusetts is planning to unveil in November shows it.

The new guide, ordered up by MassDOT and prepared by Toole Design Group, will offer the most detailed engineering-level guidance yet published in the United States for how to build safe, comfortable protected bike lanes and intersections.

“It’ll be a good resource for all 50 states,” said Bill Schultheiss, a Toole staffer who worked on the project. “I think it’ll put some pressure on other states to step up.”

There are lots of details to get excited about in the new design guide, which is scheduled for release at MassDOT’s Moving Together conference on November 4. But maybe the most important is a set of detailed recommendations for protected intersections, the fast-spreading design, based on Dutch streets, that can improve intersection safety for protected and unprotected bike lanes alike.

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Tactical Urbanism Win: Cyclist Protects Boston Bike Lane With Flowers

Boston cyclist Jonathan Fertig created a temporary protected bike lane in Boston this week using $6 potted mums he bought at the hardware store. Photo: Jonathan Fertig

Boston cyclist Jonathan Fertig created a temporary protected bike lane in Boston this week using $6 potted mums he bought at the hardware store. Photo: Jonathan Fertig

Even the most delicate barrier between bikes and auto traffic can change the behavior of drivers and make cycling a lot more appealing. Case in point: An ingenious bit of tactical urbanism in Boston this week resulted in a bike lane protected by $6 pots of hardware store mums.

Jonathan Fertig told Streetsblog he was upset the city had striped bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue, near where a truck driver killed surgeon Anita Kurmann in August, but hadn’t yet installed flexible posts that would prevent drivers from parking in the lane. So he took matters into his own hands Sunday by adding a row of potted mums, an idea he says he cribbed from the “Tactical Urbanism” manual written by Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia. Amazingly, the plants remained in place and untouched for several days, until the city returned this week to install the posts.

“The tops of the flex posts are open, so I’m actually planning to put a bouquet of flowers in each one on my way home as a statement that I’m still here, and that honestly I’m not satisfied with the city’s solution at this intersection,” Fertig said, adding that he’d like to see a more substantial protective barrier at the site.

Fertig followed up his flower pot coup with these random orange-cone curb bumpouts this week.

Fertig followed up his flower pot coup with these random orange-cone curb bumpouts this week.

Meanwhile, Fertig’s efforts caught the attention of the Boston Globe, which published a surprisingly sympathetic story that put the city on the defensive over the delay in adding protective bollards.

Fertig used the platform to announce a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for future interventions of the same type. The campaign has raised more than $3,200 in just two days.

Fertig has used some of the money on projects like using orange cones as temporary curb extensions [pictured at right]. He said he simply dropped the cones on his way to work.

Given the large amount of money raised so far, Fertig said he might explore more comprehensive tactical urbanism projects, like a Better Block demonstration.


Feds to Traffic Engineers: Use Our Money to Build Protected Bike Lanes

The feds say there’s no excuse not to use federal funding on designs like protected bike lanes.

The Federal Highway Administration wants to clear the air: Yes, state and local transportation agencies should use federal money to construct high-quality biking and walking infrastructure.

State and local DOTs deploy an array of excuses to avoid building designs like protected bike lanes. “It’s not in the manual” is a favorite. So is “the feds won’t fund that.”

Whether these excuses are cynical or sincere, FHWA wants you to know that they’re bogus.

Last week, the agency released a “clarifying” document that shoots down, on the record, some of the common refrains people hear from their DOT when they ask for safer street designs. This is a good document to print out and take to the next public meeting where you expect a transportation engineer might try the old “my-hands-are-tied” routine.

Here are the seven things FHWA wants to be absolutely clear about:

1. Federal funds CAN be used to build protected bike lanes.

In case any doubt remains, FHWA printed its own design guide for protected bike lanes. It’s okay to use federal money to build them.

2. Federal funds CAN be used for road diets.

FHWA created a whole website to help states and municipalities implement road diets that reduce lanes for motor vehicle traffic to improve safety. FHWA wants local agencies to know that federal money can be used on them.

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North Carolina: Tell State Lawmakers Not to Outlaw Road Diets — Today

Raleigh's highly praised Hillsborough Street road diet would have been illegal under legislation proposed by state lawmakers. Image: NC DOT

Raleigh’s highly praised Hillsborough Street road diet would have been illegal under legislation proposed by state lawmakers. Image: NC DOT

The language of a bill being hashed out right now in Raleigh could determine whether North Carolina cities have the freedom to redesign streets to improve safety and promote a healthier range of transportation options.

A provision of House Bill 44 — specifically Section 7 — would prohibit reducing the width of state-managed roads to add bike lanes if they:

  • A. Carry more than 20,000 vehicles a day, or
  • B. If projections show the road diet would reduce the Level of Service — an engineering measure of vehicle congestion — below a certain level (D) within 20 years.

According to local advocates the language is the result of a single lawmaker who is unhappy about a road diet in his jurisdiction. That lawmaker was responsible for adding the language banning road diets on state controlled roads into the wide-ranging bill, which includes items such as the regulation of signs, beekeepers, and beaches.

HB 44 passed in both the House and the Senate, but the language of each bill was different enough that additional work is needed before it can proceed. State senators and representatives met in conference committee yesterday where advocates were hopeful a compromise would be hashed out that would eliminate or alter the road diet provision. According to Lisa Riegel of BikeWalk NC, the final decision may come today. That group is urging supporters to contact their elected representatives and urge them to remove Section 7.

“It is not too late,” said Riegel. “The conferees are close, but the bill is not done. We need to urge all that would like to see this provision removed to contact the Senate and House conferees today.”

Don Kostelec, an Asheville-based planner, says some of the road diets the state’s cities are most proud of — like Raleigh’s Hillsborough Street and Asheville’s College Street — would have been prohibited as the bill is currently written. The Hillsborough Street project [pictured above] is used as an example of a great complete streets project by both the North Carolina DOT and the Federal Highway Administration.

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Calgary Opens a Downtown Protected Bike Lane Network All at Once

A city map of Calgary’s pilot project.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

One of North America’s unlikeliest and most ambitious protected bike lane projects is now on the ground.

Calgary, the arid Alberta prairie town and natural gas capital, agreed last year on a novel strategy: Instead of upgrading one street for biking at a time, as most cities do, it would pilot a connected protected bike lane network on four downtown streets at once.

The stakes are high, and Wednesday’s official opening is obviously too soon to declare a success or failure.

But something’s working so far, reports CTV News:
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Vancouver Set to Claim Another Bridge Lane for Active Transportation

City officials want to add another bike lane to the Burrard Bridge. Image: Vancouver

Vancouver officials want to remove a car lane on the Burrard Bridge to make room for a walking path. Image: City of Vancouver

In 2009, Vancouver converted a southbound car lane on the west side of the Burrard Bridge to a protected bikeway using concrete dividers, freeing up the sidewalk for pedestrians. On the east side, the city converted the existing sidewalk into a bike path.

The bridge, pre-bike lane, via Wikipedia

The bridge, pre-redesign. Photo: Wikipedia

The three-month experiment defied predictions of carmageddon and became a permanent fixture. Thanks to the protected lane and an overhaul of the intersection on one end of the span in 2013, the Burrard Bridge has become “the city’s most popular bike route,” according to Metro.

According to the city, the bridge handled about 300,000 bike trips per month between September and November last year.

Now, six years after the first change, Vancouver is looking to remove another car lane to open up room for a walking path on the east side, and to redesign the intersection at the other foot of the bridge to reduce conflicts between drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The main part of the span would have four car lanes and dedicated paths for walking and biking in each direction, compared to six car lanes and narrow, mixed-use paths before the 2009 redesign.

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Four Cities Race to Finish the Country’s First Protected Intersection

A protected intersection under construction at Manor and Tilley in Austin, fall 2014. Photo: City of Austin.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Sometimes, change builds up for years. And sometimes, it bursts.

Fifteen months after American bikeway designer Nick Falbo coined the phrase “protected intersection” to refer to a Dutch-style intersection between two streets with protected bike lanes, the concept hasn’t just ricocheted around the Internet — it’s been approved by four different cities.

The cities of Austin, Salt Lake City, Davis and Boston are now in a four-way race to create the first working protected intersection in the United States.

The holy grail of bike infrastructure: Low-stress traffic crossings

Photo from Utrecht, Netherlands: J.Maus/BikePortland.

The promise of the design is simple: Instead of forcing people in cars and on bikes alike to look constantly over their shoulders for one another, protected intersections arrange traffic so that everyone can see what’s going on simply by looking forward.

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Tampa Installs Its First Green Bike Lane

Tampa recently added a buffered green bike lane. Photo: Tampa Tribune

Tampa recently painted its first buffered green bike lanes. Photo: Tampa Tribune

There are splashes of green appearing in downtown Tampa, as the city installs its first buffered bike lanes on Platt, Cleveland, and Brorein streets, complete with green intersections.

The Platt Street redesign trimmed the one-way, three-lane road down to a two car lanes plus a buffered bike lane. (The bike lane on Cleveland will offer a travel option for cyclists heading in the other direction.) The city also lowered the speed limit from 40 mph to 35 mph.

The new bike lanes are part of a wider city effort to change Tampa’s record as a dangerous place for walking and biking, says Karen Kresf of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, a business association.

“Our mayor understands the fact that Tampa Bay is rated number two in the country in the Dangerous by Design report,” says Kresf, referring to the Transportation for America report that ranked the most dangerous cities for walking. “Our local governments are finally taking that seriously.”

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