Monday, November 9, 2015

How to build protected bike lanes, a new guide from MassDOT

Every so often, a planning guide is released which is a real game changer. One of those guides is the Urban Street Design Guide which shows how local governments can build streets that support all ages, abilities, and modes of transportation.

Another game changer, released just this month by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, is its Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide. Over the last few years, many forwarding-thinking communities have come to the realization that people will only cycle if they feel safe. Building protected bike lanes creates a safe environment for cycling.

As Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Transportation and CEO of MassDOT says, “Separated bike lanes are a key ingredient in the development of safe, comfortable and connected bicycle networks that will attract bicyclists of all ages and abilities.”

One of the barriers preventing the widespread adoption of protected bike lanes in North America is the lack of a comprehensive, and easily understandable design guide. This is where the MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide comes to the rescue. It not only provides design advice for transportation engineers and planners, but it is visual enough that local government decision makers will also understand the guide.

The guide is divided into seven chapters. There is one chapter that covers general design, and another full chapter dedicated to intersection design. Intersections are where the majority of conflicts between all road users occur.

Comparison of Bicyclist Exposure at Intersections. Cycling movements in blue, auto movements in black. Select diagrams to enlarge.

The design guide contains examples of protected bike lanes going through all types of intersections.

An example of how to build protected bike lanes through a roundabout. Select example to enlarge.

While building protected bike lanes is key to getting people riding bicycles, those lanes must be maintained to ensure their long-term success. The Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide’s chapter on maintenance covers everything from lane sweeping and snow removal, to how to plan for solid waste collection.

An example of planning for solid waste collection on a residential street with protected bike lanes.

The MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Planning & Design Guide is a must-read for anyone involved in the design, construction, or maintenance of streets: from politicians to engineers.

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