Friday, December 4, 2009

Bicycle accommodations and innovations in Germany, Paris, and New York.

The road bicyclist faces a battle in traffic on a daily basis. Many bicyclists complain about almost getting hit by a car or a bus taking a wide turn, or a car opening their door in the bicyclists ongoing path. The design and structure of the bike lanes and roadways are a major contributors to these hazardous situations. Various proposals have been made by cities throughout the world. Paris proposes using a shared bus  and bike lane, separated by a median from all other motorists on the road. 

Similarly, Germany Cycling Federation or ASFC manual written on April, 22, 2004, proposed for a shared bus and bike lane. Since September 1, 1997, cities in Germany have opened up existing designated bus lanes to bicycle traffic in order to increase traffic safety and bicycle use. According to the proposal,  the implementation requires adequate lane width that accommodated for bicycles and buses. Considering the off peak hours for bus traffic, there is a considerable increase in comfort for bicyclists. The proposal suggests that their solution can help avoid issue faced with bike lanes in the middle of the road, where if the bus is on a fixed route, bicyclists have problem merging into the curb side lane to turn onto a street. However, there is always the issue of following proper conduct when introducing bicyclists into a bus lane, which becomes an issue of legislation. 

New York came up with some of its own solutions for bicyclists in different traffic conditions in the city. First released in May of 2009, the Street Design Manual is the product of an inter-agency Task Force headed by the Department of Transportation, Department of Design and Construction, Environmental Protection and various other city agencies, including Mayor Bloomberg's office. The manual is proposes two designs, one is the bike lanes fro inter-city travel and the other is bike path for network bike connections or where there are high volumes or speeds or multiple moving lanes. A bike lane would be a dedicating on-street lane or path for bicycles and a separate system of lanes and ways for buses. These bike lanes would typically have 3 feet of channelization with buffered space. The proposal suggests that with the addition of on-road bike lanes can calm traffic speeds when used on narrow lanes (fig 3). 

The bike path proposal suggests a path that is physically separated from motorized vehicle traffic by an open space or barrier and either with a median that can be preferable on wide or busy streets, on major bike routes, or along long, uninterrupted stretches (fig 4).

Another suggestion is to create a painted buffer behind a "floating" parking lane, a narrow curb or median, or a wider median with landscaping (fig 5). Suggested benefits include reduced or eliminated blocking of the lane by motor vehicles and the swerving of bicyclists into mixed traffic. It also reduces the risk of bicyclists running into a car opening a door on this path. It would be necessary to propose a design which creates connectivity with adjoining bikeways, bike parking, and bicycle destinations. The NY proposal also goes further to accommodate in special circumstances paths designed for shared-use by bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, wheelchair users, and other non-motorized users. Also focuses on anticipating volumes of low-speed users and high-speed users to minimize conflicts between the two. Most innovative design solution provided in the NYC Street Manual is its sustainability opportunities, in which they propose utilizing recycled content in paving materials. 

More information at

Last updated May 20,2009

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