Is this the future of bike lanes?

Cities everywhere are working to make bike lanes safer.

Steven Senne/AP
In this Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, photo, a cyclist enters a bike lane that is routed between parked cars and the sidewalk in Boston. Cities around the world are increasingly changing bike lanes to make them safer in light of fatal crashes involving cyclists and cars.

Gone are the days of slapping some white paint on the asphalt and calling it a bike lane.

Cities across the globe are building "protected" lanes or "cycletracks" to build barriers between cyclists and automobiles. These barriers can be concrete curbs, fences, planters, or even parked cars.

"For 50 years, we've just been putting down a stripe of white paint, and that was how you accommodated bikes on busy streets," Martha Roskowski, director of People for Bikes, a Boulder, Colorado-based advocacy group that's calling for better designed bike lanes, told the Associated Press. "What we've learned is that simply doesn't work for most."

The amount of people commuting to work via bicycle rose by about 60 percent from 2000 to the 2008-2012 period, according to the US Census Bureau. But with that shift come more fatal accidents with cyclists and cars.

In already bike-friendly European cities, like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, protected bike lanes have been around for decades. But other European cities are increasingly following suit. London, for example, has opened "cycle superhighways" that are planned across the city. On these lanes, a curb separates the bikes from the cars. 

But the United States has been a bit slower on the uptake. New York started setting up protected bike lanes across the city in 2007. By 2013, there were about 100 miles of protected lanes in 32 cities across the country, according to People for Bikes. Now there are about 240 miles in 94 cities, but that's still just a small portion of all bike lanes, according to Roskowski.

Plans are in motion to expand these protected lanes in large cities across the country and at least two dozen cities have already begun to install these new types of lanes just this year, according to People for Bikes. 

Chicago added 9 miles this year, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised 50 more miles of protected lanes to be built over the next three years. 

Boston has already seen eight cyclist fatalities this year, but the city has also reconfigured a portion of Beacon Street leading to the Fenway Park area so that rows of parked cars form a barrier between cyclists and moving vehicles.

Not all new types of bike lanes are being hailed as progress.

In San Francisco, the city tested a "raised" bike lane where the lane was built up higher than vehicle lanes. But Chris Cassidy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition says cars are still parking in the lane, blocking cyclists' path.

Some Japanese cities have put their protected bike lanes on sidewalks, so pedestrians and cyclists end up competing for the space.

Despite the design flaws in some protected bike lanes, Mikael Colville-Andersen, CEO of Copenhagenize Design Co., a Danish firm that works with cities on bike infrastructure projects, said "Cities are becoming more rational again, after the folly of car-centric planning." 

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Is this the future of bike lanes?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today