The debate on physically separated bike lanes is quite interesting. This video by StreetFilms argues that regular bike lanes are not sufficient and the New York City Department of Transportation should start implementing separated lanes. They say that separation has worked well in many cities around the world.
I think that a separated path is a great idea for traveling along streets. My only concern is at intersections—they must be designed properly so that bicyclists are not placed in danger. Drivers of vehicles may not expect to see a cyclist headed from the opposite direction when they are making a turn. You also need careful consideration when placing the bike lanes inside the parking lane—you can create a nightmare for curbside delivery and emergency vehicles.
Anything that makes cyclists feel more comfortable and gets more riders out is a good thing—as long as it’s safe, of course. Personally, bike lanes (I’m talking about Class II lanes for some states, including California) work just fine for me on speeds lower that 35mph. When you get above that speed, I feel much more comfortable with a separation. I think that NYC deals with many more bike lane abuse issues than we face in Sacramento.
I wonder if the painted buffer between bike lanes and travel lanes that they show in the video is actually worse for bicyclists because it invites drivers to park in the lanes?
Physically Separated Bike Lanes [StreetFilms] via
The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes [The Oil Drum: New York City] via Jawed