In order to encourage bicycling, cities have been constructing new infrastructure that physically separates cyclists from motor vehicle traffic. Without these facilities, increasing the number of people who bike for transportation may be difficult. However, when trying to build safe bike facilities, many cities are challenged by high-speed arterials cutting through downtowns. These arterials are prime locations for protected bike lanes and may also be state highways. This provides an exciting opportunity for states to work with cities to improve multimodal opportunities on state-owned roads that travel through dense urban areas.
At the March AASHTO meeting, U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood urged the attendees to update their guidance for bicycle facilities such as cycle tracks, also known as protected or separated bike lanes. Last week FHWA issued a task order proposal request to study the safety of cycle tracks and issue recommendations on their design and implementation.
A recent article in the American Journal of Public Health concentrates on the lack of updated bicycle facilities standards in the the most widely used guides. The article’s authors focused specifically on their perception that cycle tracks—bike facilities separated from motorized traffic by a curb, parked cars, or other physical or painted buffer to discourage intrusion by motor vehicles—would increase bicycle transportation by older users, women, and children.