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Friday Film Fun: Portland cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes

Posted Apr 16 2010 4:00am

One of the criticism hurled by the bike boulevard opposition is that the facility gives road space over to bikes at the expense of cars. Well, yeah. Creating great bike facilities is about getting people to change their transportation choices and what better way to do that than to elevate the desired choice of transportation? Plus, with over 1000 miles of paved roads dedicated to the automobile in Austin, don’t you think we ought to have at least a few miles where bikes and pedestrians are the stars of the show?

What if we could create great facilities that put the beginner or novice cyclist at ease with minimal impact on car traffic? What if we could simply re-arrange the landscape of the street and open up a safer passage for bikes and more public space? Well, that’s what Portland is experimenting with in this video on cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes.

On the Right Track from Mayor Sam Adams on Vimeo .

The buffers are something we have here in places, and while it’s certainly a nice feature, I don’t believe they are nearly as inviting to the new cyclist as cycle tracks will be. The cycle track is actually something very common in European cities, and I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of these in the U.S. Using parked cars as a barrier mid-street seems like a brilliant idea, but I think we’ll need a change in attitude as Americans when it comes to intersections. The video reminds turning drivers to look for cyclists like they do for pedestrians. That works well in the Pacific Northwest where drivers give pedestrians much deference. Here in Texas, I feel like we’re more of an afterthought or target practice.

The launch pad for left turning cyclists looks interesting as well though I feel like I need to see it in person. From the animation, it seems like you are floating in a target box in the middle of the intersection.

Can bikes get the safety and space they need without sacrificing automobile flow? I’m not sure that’s a desired goal, but if we can make more space for bikes with minimal impact on cars in the sport run, I’m for it.

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