Boston, Columbus, Detroit, Indy, Minneapolis, Houston, Denver & Seattle all unveil protected lanes

February 27, 2015

Michael Andersen, Green Lane Project staff writer


Shelby Street in Indianapolis is a model for that city's two latest protected-lane projects.

Spring is three weeks away, and that means it's time for one of American cities' newest rituals: announcing the year's protected bike lane construction plans.

Every few days over the last month, another U.S. city has released plans or announced progress in building protected lanes. Even more excitingly, many are in downtown and commercial areas, which tend to have the highest latent demand for biking. Let's take a scan from east to west of the projects that popped onto our radar in February alone, to be built in 2015 or 2016:

Boston is "heading toward" a firm plan for protected lanes on the crucial Commonwealth Avenue artery between Boston University Bridge and Brighton, Deputy Transportation Commissioner Jim Gillooly said Feb. 9. In a Feb. 8 column, Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson endorsed the concept on the strength of a trip to Seattle, where he rode a Pronto! Bike Share bicycle down the 2nd Avenue bike lane.

"I did something here I am scared to death to do in Boston," Jackson wrote. "I bicycled on a weekday in the city’s most bustling business district."

New York City seems likely to upgrade Columbus Avenue to have more continuous bike protection past the David H. Koch theater, after a Feb. 10 thumbs-up from the local community board.

Columbus, Ohio said Feb. 2 that a 1.4-mile bidirectional protected lane on Summit near the Ohio State University is "just the beginning" of plans for biking improvements, thanks to advocacy group Yay Bikes and a receptive city staff.

Detroit is installing southeast Michigan's first protected lanes this year on a "very short segment" of East Jefferson. Advocacy group Detroit Greenways says it's "precedent setting and could serve as a model for all of Detroit’s major spoke roads."

Indianapolis said Feb. 25 that it's adding protected lanes to New York and Michigan streets this summer, modeled after its 2011 project on Shelby Street.

Minneapolis announced Feb. 26 that it's planning to add one-way protected bike lanes on 32 blocks of E. 26th and 28th streets, part of 10 projects the city is planning before 2020. The projects will repurpose general travel lanes or remove peak-hour parking from the streets. This is a particularly important step for the city because the routes run parallel to the celebrated Midtown Greenway off-street path, meaning the city is working to add comfortable bike routes that connect to its important commercial destinations instead of just running nearby them.

Houston began painting its first protected bike lane on Feb. 8, a 10-block bidirectional track on Lamar Street downtown that'll connect two existing off-road paths to one another.

Austin started discussing protected lanes on 5th and 6th streets through downtown on Feb. 17.

Denver started to formally tackle its proposal for protected bike lanes on Broadway, the crucial cross-cutting street that runs north and south through downtown, the Denver Post reported Feb. 25. "Anything that increases traffic and access to the area is helpful for us economically," Sweet Action Ice Cream owner Chia Basinger told the newspaper, explaining his support for the proposal.

San Francisco is adding concrete islands that will ease pedestrian crossings and more fully separate its flexpost-protected bike lanes on Oak and Fell streets, Streetsblog SF reported Feb. 20.

Klamath Falls, Oregon is weighing its first protected bike lane on Oregon Avenue between Moore Park and downtown, with financial support from the Sky Lakes Wellness Center.

On Feb. 11, the local Herald and News newspaper interviewed the Wellness Center's Katherine Jochim Pope: "While the potential health benefits are exciting, arguments in favor of protected bike lanes seem stronger for economic improvement and safety, Pope said."

And Seattle announced in a Feb. 26 open house that protected bike lanes or a dedicated bus lane are both options on Rainier Avenue, one of the main commercial corridors of the city's southern neighborhoods. Who knows — maybe that Boston Globe columnist will be able to check out Rainier Valley on his next trip west.

The Green Lane Project is a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets. You can follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook or sign up for our weekly news digest about protected bike lanes. Story tip? Write [email protected]

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