Posts Tagged ‘cycle tracks’

Separated bike lanes and cycle tracks

Friday, September 4th, 2009

We got an unexpected email from the office of Portland’s Mayor. It asked, “What is Michigan’s take on Cycle tracks?”

We can’t speak on behalf of the state, but it seems there certainly are many good potential locations for cycle tracks in Metro Detroit. Woodward around Campus Maritus (especially post-light rail) and many suburban downtowns (e.g. Main Street in Royal Oak) might make great candidates.

Or perhaps even portions of Ferndale’s bike lane along Hilton would work. The few number of vehicles parking along the road make the bike lane feel like it’s further out into the road than necessary. (Ferndale followed the Chicago Bike Lane Guide which did not have cycle track designs.)

So just what are cycle tracks?

According to Portland’s press release:

A cycle track is a bike lane nestled between the curb and on-street parking, providing a sanctuary for cyclists from fast moving traffic downtown.

This design is popular in Europe and is now starting to gain traction in the U.S. Portland’s first cycle track has been written up in the Oregonian, Streetsblog, and on the Portland Transport page. There’s even a video (see below).

Even the recently released New York DOT Street Design Manual includes this bicycle facility, although they refer to them as bike paths. (Chapter 2.1.2 ) Their manual also notes that this facilities use is “limited”:

Physical separation of bikeways
can sometimes be preferable on
wide or busy streets, on major bike
routes, or along long, uninterrupted
stretches. Separation can take the
form of a painted buffer demarcating
the bike lane behind a ?floating?
parking lane, a narrow curb or median,
or a wider median with landscaping.
An alternative form of separation
is grade?separation, where the
bike path is located at sidewalk
grade or in between sidewalk and
roadway grade.

Physical separation of bikeways can sometimes be preferable on wide or busy streets, on major bike routes, or along long, uninterrupted stretches. Separation can take the form of a painted buffer demarcating the bike lane behind a floating parking lane, a narrow curb or median, or a wider median with landscaping.

An alternative form of separation is grade separation, where the bike path is located at sidewalk grade or in between sidewalk and roadway grade.

One major concern with this design is it makes cyclists less visible to turning traffic. To design these for safe use, one must manage (and likely limit) vehicular turning movements and reduce vehicle access points (e.g. driveways.) The Portland video shows that parking is prohibited near intersections in order to improve the visibility of cyclists to motorists.

Given these design concerns, perhaps it also makes locating these types of facilities along superblocks where there are fewer intersections to deal with.

Portland Unveils Downtown Cycle Track from Mayor Sam Adams on Vimeo.