Bikes Belong Selects Six Cities to Fast Track Protected Bike Lanes

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.

Photo: ## DOT/Bikes Belong##

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.

19 thoughts on Bikes Belong Selects Six Cities to Fast Track Protected Bike Lanes

  1. Seems like they selected cities that are already on the leading edge instead of those that really need the help improving their designs…

  2. @Darlene,  They probably want to assist cities that are likely to implement the designs.  It would be a waste of their time to select cities that have a slim chance of getting legislative approval. 

  3. We also have protected bike lanes in  downtown Long Beach, CA.  The lanes even have their own traffic signals.  Long Beach is a very bike friendly city and has been for years.

  4. not so of memphis… it was recently named one of the worst cities for bicycles. there are plenty of people hoping to change that, but we need all the help we can get!

  5. My first reaction: Miami needed this way more than Portland.  But how is Bikes Belong going to come here when FDOT keeps stating protected bike lanes are not part of their “standards,” and our elected officials do nothing to get FDOT to change that?

  6. The worst city designation for Memphis was 3 years ago. We received an honorable mention ranking as a Bicycle Friendly Community for 2011. 

  7. Wow, that’s a tip of the hat to everybody involve in the promotion of bicycles in Memphis. Less than a year ago was named the fifth most dangerous city in the US for bikes and pedestrians, but we still risk our lifes riding as much as we can. We won’t disappoint you!

  8. The City of Columbus was in the running, but we didn’t get it.  Best Wishes to the cities that won!  Your success can help convince our local leaders of the urgency of implementing these improvements.   

  9. Darlene-
    Thanks for the mention of being on the edge, but I can assure you Memphis is anything but leading where it comes to bikes.  We are working very hard to change that here and a win like this was critical to keep building the momentum!  Thanks BBF!  We will do our best to not disappoint you or any of the other cities!

  10. I’m very glad for Memphis!  I ride there often and have seen positive improvements in the past couple years, most notably a seven mile long “rails to trails” and lane diets with new bike lanes as streets are repaved.  The new bridge across the Mississippi River, project that is in progress, which will connect  downtown Memphis with Arkansas to the West is exciting!

    The protected lanes are greatly needed at some of the large, busy intersections and will help to connect everything together to make it a lot more practical to use a bicycle as a mode of transportation in Memphis.  Kudos to The Bikes Belong Foundation!

  11. I’m curious where in Austin they plan to actually do this – I can’t think of any routes that make sense that don’t have far too many curb cuts to make this viable.

  12. I don’t want this to sound like sour grapes (full disclosure: I was involved in Baltimore’s application), but four of these cities really do NOT need help building bike infrastructure. For real – PORTLAND?! I’m obviously biased towards Baltimore, but I’m sure there are four other cities (in addition to Austin and Memphis) who could’ve used this much more than PDX (!!! I still can’t get over that), DC, SF, and CHI.


  14. Are cyclists required to use sidepaths in any of those states? Or in those cities, if the states don’t enforce uniformity?

    San Francisco is one of these six targeted cities, and California does not have a mandatory sidepath requirement, so we won’t be forced by law to use the things. However, if it’s mis-labeled as a bike lane (which is the promotional terminology used inaccurately in this article), other roadway users and law enforcement will be very likely to harass cyclists who prefer to use the roadway to avoid the hazards of the sidepath.

  15. The article makes unsubstantiated claims of safety.  Copenhagen cycle tracks actually aggravate conflict at intersections.  And here’s what they look like in New York:

  16. What a wasted opportunity with the selection of cities that are either already implementing cycletracks on their own, or that have the ability to easily begin doing it without outside help.
    Green Lane was promoted as a bold approach to advance infrastructure development, but this selection shows more of the same narrow focus a small group cities that are already making advancements on their own.  A truly bold approach would have been to select more cities like Memphis – Pittsburgh, Miami, KC, Columbus, etc.  Cities that aren’t traditionally viewed as bike-friendly but making great strides with few resources. The Green Lane project would have a much greater impact in these cities than in a place like DC that is already well on its way towards establishing a cycletrack network.

  17. Brhinobiker42  I’ve cycled in Copenhagen before and can assure you that in no way do the cycle tracks aggravate conflict at intersections.  At trickier junctions, right-turning cars and cyclists have separate light phases for green.  Some have painted the crossing for the cycle lane blue through the intersection.  Many times I would be 20-30 feet behind an intersection and a right-turning car would wait for me to arrive and past before turning.  With 37% of the population of the capital biking to work everyday, they would have serious problems if all of their intersections were improperly designed for cyclists, and one would think they would have scrapped the whole separation system by now if it didn’t work.  The Danes aren’t any different than anyone else when it comes to transport.  If cycling didn’t feel safe and people were being run over like flies at these “aggravated intersections” then you wouldn’t be seeing people in all demographics doing so.  And if you want to get into statistics, Denmark had 54 cycling fatalities in 2008.  The state of Florida, where I currently live, had 107.  The percent of bike commuters in Denmark is 19, meaning just over a million people commute by bike everyday.  I can assure you there are not 1 million cyclists commuting by bike in all of Florida every single day on our city streets, yet look at it’s number of fatalities.  If 10, 15% of the elderly and children started commuting by bike in Florida, with the current way roads are here, I don’t even want to imagine what the fatality rate would then be.     

  18. I am really very pleased to read that Memphis is on this list. It is additions like the greenline, clear bike lanes, and projects like this (!) that make me feel confident biking in my city. This is an awesome opportunity for Memphis to grow, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it as things develop. Thanks BBF!

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