Evidence from Toronto: Well-designed bike lanes encourage cycling, improve safety for all

A new report from the City of Toronto adds further evidence to the notion that improvements to the cycling network can dramatically increase cycling mode share and actual numbers, while improving safety for all road users, with little to no degradation of motorist level of service. Crashes for both bicyclists and motor vehicles declined after the installation of protected bike lanes; additional travel times for motorists changed minimally, and the number of bicyclists using the street went up 1000 percent.

Baltimore fire code eased to allow bike lanes, more flexible design

On Aug 6, Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to approve a bill that repeals parts of the city fire code to allow for more bike-friendly and pedestrian-safe street developments. Although the bill still awaits Mayor Catherine Pugh’s signature, a mayoral spokesperson said on August 20 that they do not anticipate a veto. The legislation will repeal the section of the fire code that requires 20- and 26- foot clearances for fire access, and will be replaced by more flexible NACTO guidelines.

Traffic enforcement observations target Uber and Lyft drivers as largest offenders

A recent scan from San Francisco’s Police Department found that Uber and Lyft drivers were responsible for nearly 65 percent of traffic infractions in bike- and transit-only lanes. The overwhelming majority of these tickets, for all vehicles and for Uber and Lyft vehicles, cited San Francisco Code 7.2.72 TC (see below), “Driving in a Transit Lane,” which comes with a $69 fine. There were also three felony and 29 misdemeanor arrests associated with this traffic report, indicating more serious incidents.

Austin, Texas sees road safety and operations improvements with “right sizing”

Austin, Texas has released a report detailing their 15-year effort to “right size” streets throughout the city, and the results have been positive. Travel times on the studied segments have not increased, crashes are down by as much as 38 percent, and high-risk speeding has significantly decreased. In some cases travel times and traffic volumes have actually increased because the roads operate more efficiently.

Walking and biking form ‘third pillar’ of transportation in Wasatch Front plan

In its newly released 25-year Regional Transportation Plan, Utah’s Wasatch Front Regional Council—which controls more than half of available statewide transportation funds—makes active transportation one of its three major transportation pillars, in addition to highways and transit. The plan includes more than 1,600 miles of proposed bike lanes and improvements, including several hundred miles that coincide with planned road construction.

FHWA releases separated bike lane guide

FHWA has released a guide for designing and building separated bike lanes. The guide includes elements that are not found in other guides in North America, such as recommendations for lane widths based on bicycle traffic volumes, guidance for where separated bike lanes (SBL) are appropriate based on motor vehicle speed and volume, and the horizontal separation of these facilities from motor vehicle lanes at intersections.

Innovative infrastructure and bikes on trains encourage commuting

Cities and states are trying to make biking easier, safer, and more predictable. Across the country, improved connections with transit or installing cutting-edge, on-street bicycle facilities are encouraging more people to embark on non-auto commutes. Three examples illustrate ways to help bicyclists access transit and feel more comfortable on streets with traffic.

Bike boxes and lanes may increase “right hook” crashes in some circumstances

A preliminary analysis of bike crashes at intersections in Portland with painted bike lanes, bike boxes, and bicycle-related signage has indicated that when placed on a downhill section of road, they may actually increase the number of bicycle/motor-vehicle crashes, especially during “stale” green lights.