Chart of the Day: Sidewalk Biking and Protected Lanes

Here’s an interesting chart from People for Bikes that brings together some research on how protected bike lanes affect “sidewalk riding” in a few cities. It’s important to keep this in mind, that a good bike project isn’t just about bicyclists, but also about improving the pedestrian and sidewalk experience. Nobody on foot or on a bike really wants to share sidewalk space!

sidewalk biking chart

Here’s the conclusion from the blogpost:

From August 2014 (before barriers were installed) to February 2015 (after), the number of bikes using King Street (both directions, road bed and sidewalk combined) soared 71 percent.

And in the same period, Honolulu bicycle coordinator Chris Sayers said Monday, the number of bikes on the sidewalk plummeted 65 percent.

That’s no big surprise, because someone biking on a sidewalk is just trying to ride in the protected bike lane that isn’t there. When cities make part of a street comfortable to bike in, people naturally choose to use it.

Good lesson for the protected bike projects in both downtowns!

6 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Sidewalk Biking and Protected Lanes

  1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    Sorry, can’t resist sharing this trolling response from “Bicyclists Belong in the Traffic Lane” on Facebook.

    Most protected bike lanes are a good thing. But is a westbound bicycle on 36th Street moving from the north-side sidewalk to the south-side (wrong-way) “shared zone” protected bike lane better off? It would technically be a sidewalk-to-PBL change, but I believe they’d be even less safe than going with the flow of traffic on the straight, continuous sidewalk.

      1. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

        It’s right by my house, so yeah! I’m sorta confused by Sean’s scenario, and this is actually a place I rarely see cyclists on the sidewalk. Traffic along 36th from Lyndale to Dupont is pretty calm thanks to 2 lanes and parking, but it speeds up (even after the reduction in one of the EB lanes) west of Dupont where the 2-way protected path was built.

      2. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

        I guess I didn’t describe it very clearly

        My scenario is that you have a westbound bicyclist who does not like to ride with motorized traffic. Prior to last year’s changes, they’re riding on the north sidewalk, thus shared with pedestrians, but with the flow of traffic.

        After last year’s changes, they’re now riding on the south side (against the flow of traffic). In several areas of this “protected bike lane”, they’re actually in a space as narrow as a sidewalk, shared with pedestrians (the tan-colored “shared spaces”).

        So now they’re still on a “sidewalk”, just going against the flow of traffic instead of with the flow of traffic.

        Is this an improvement? Perhaps for pedestrians on the north-side sidewalk, but certainly not for bicyclists.

        And Bill — yes, I’ve tried it a couple of times, riding from CoCo Uptown to Southdale area. I have more than had my fill, and I’ve gone back to the lane.

        1. Rosa

          the two-way one-side off-street bike lane on Stinson does what I think you’re describing – Northbound (toward campus/downtown) all the sudden it just ends, and you’re suddenly on the oncoming traffic side (or teeny residential sidewalk) of 18th Ave. Or whatever number it is that Stinson suddenly turns into. AND crossing at the crosswalk instead of in the traffic lane, where trucks are turning left off two major streets and not expecting bikes.

        2. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

          I get you now. I guess I’ll disagree that things aren’t much better for cyclists, including WB ones. I did advocate for no ped/bike mixing zones in my post last year, though that would have required parking on the cycle track side with bus loading zones in lieu of parking. There’s arguments to be made for/against this (including violating MSA requirements). Anyway, the ped/bike mixing zones in the current design are, what, 10% the bikeway in length? So in terms of conflict points with pedestrians, it’s ~90% better. This also ignores that pedestrian traffic on the north sidewalk is far heavier than the ped space in the bikeway.

          It’s certainly not perfect. Since I live on the east side of Fremont Ave, if I’m coming from Bryant (or whatever) I won’t hop into the bikeway only to exit it 1.5 skinny blocks later for my alley. And to be sure, the ends need much better treatment – the Richfield Rd/Calhoun Pkway odd bike box doesn’t really work for either turn movement, especially given the free right northbound drivers have. But! I literally saw a kid with a fishing pole biking it last fall, which I count as anecdote enough to call it a success. For *most* people traveling more than a few blocks this thing works really well.

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