Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.
The professional transportation engineers’ association that writes the book on U.S. street design is meeting this week in Seattle — and talking quite a bit about protected bike lanes.
As we reported in January, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is considering bringing protected bike lanes into the next edition of its widely used Guide for the Development of Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities.
For that to happen, AASHTO’s design committees will need to vote to include such designs. Based on interviews over the last few weeks, members have some disagreements over the issue but tend to agree that it’s important.
I asked Tony Laird, state highway development engineer at the Wyoming Department of Transportation and vice chair of AASHTO’s technical design committee on non-motorized transportation, what he saw as the major issues in the lead-up to AASHTO’s next bike guide.
“The hottest issue right now is what we’re calling protected bike lanes, what we called cycle tracks for a while,” Laird replied. “There’s a lot of demand for some guidance and consistency for what those look like… I think by the time we put together that new bike guide it’s going to have new guidance on protected bike lanes.”
Eric Ophardt of the New York State DOT, who also serves on the non-motorized committee, also cited new bike lane designs as the top issue he sees.
“The big thing is the bike paths and sidepaths that are being built all over this country,” he said.
Though physically separated bike lanes are only one of several issues on the committees’ plates, it’s one that people remain likely to disagree about.
Lynn Jonell Soporowski of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and another member of the non-motorized committee, is dubious about protected bike lanes, saying that Kentucky cities don’t have much room for such facilities.