The Case for Separated Bike Lanes

Interesting, from The Atlantic Cities online…

The Case for Separated Bike Lanes

Sarah Goodyear, Aug 21, 2012

The other day, Doug Gordon decided to try a little bike lane experiment. Gordon, author of the Brooklyn Spoke blog, placed red plastic Solo cups (yes, the ones you use when drinking from a keg) along the edge of a painted bike lane that is often blocked by parked livery cars and other drivers.

The conditions were hardly scientific, but these small plastic delineators, stuck to the roadway with duct tape, seemed to be pretty effective in preventing vehicles from entering the bike lane.

[W]hile using red Solo Cups may inspire a few jokes about Brooklyn hipsters and bike lane versions of beer pong, my little experiment did provide at least a modicum of evidence that very basic forms of separation can make big differences when it comes to defining road space for different users.

Gordon was inspired by a one-man effort that aimed to keep Brooklyn cops from parking in a local bike lane with orange plastic posts. Gordon also modeled his Solo-cup markers on the Trashy Bike Lane, put in place by some Toronto bike advocates at an intersection where a pregnant woman named Jenna Morrison was killed last fall by the driver of a truck making a right turn. They, too, saw a real difference in driver behavior, and documented it in photos:

We observed how cars and trucks drove with our “trash” bike lane present. Drivers seemed to stay clear of our faux bike lane when they drove through the intersection, including a large tractor-trailer whose rear wheels stayed clear of our bike lane.

The message? Physical barriers, even small ones, have a greater effect on driver behavior than painted lines.

Read on here.