Thursday, June 7, 2012

'Green lanes' mean 'go' for more cities' cyclists

From Burlington Free Press
A man pedals a BIXI (bike-share) bicycle in a car-free lane on Rue Rachel in Montreal in this 2010 file photo. Bike-friendly infrastructure is credited with popularizing BIXI.

To boost transit options, U.S. cities are revving up plans for something that’s long been popular in Europe — bike lanes protected from traffic.
Separated by curbs, planters, posts or parked cars, these “green lanes” are tak­ing off in — among other cities — Austin, Chicago, Memphis, San Francisco, Port­land, Ore., and Washington, D.C.
“We are seeing an explosion of inter­est in making bicycling stress-free on busy city streets,” says Martha Roskow­ski of Bikes Belong Foundation, a non­profit touting the paths via its Green Lane Project. She says U.S. cities have had standard bike lanes for decades, but many riders don’t see them as safe enough.
Burlington is among communities that have been adding bike lanes, part of a push to promote more two-wheeled transportation in a city where traffic congestion is common.
“We’re promoting a more active life­style,” says Federal Highway Adminis­trator Victor Mendez, adding many green lanes are receiving federal funds. In Chicago on Thursday, he joined of­ficials from several cities to spotlight ef­forts:
» Texas’ Austin, which installed or up­graded 20 to 30 miles of bike lanes in each of the past four years, plans 50 miles this year.
» Memphis, dubbed one of the worst cities for riding by Bicycling magazine in 2008, finished 25 miles of on-street bike trails last year and plans 30 more miles -- some of them green lanes -- this year.
» Portland, Ore., has built 5 miles of protected bikeways since 2009 and is now working on 4 more miles.
» Chicago, which installed its first protected bike lane last spring on Kinzie Street, has budgeted $40 million to build 100 miles of green lanes by May 2015.
In New York City, some green lanes have drawn opposition, because they cut space for driving and parking.

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