Home > Design the Details, Engineering Design, Tools & Ingenuity, Videos > Separated And Equal: Cycletracks Are Part Of The Bike-Friendly Toolbox

Separated And Equal: Cycletracks Are Part Of The Bike-Friendly Toolbox

Updated 12:00pm: fixed links and added image.

Video Tuesday (#2)

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/20302720]

“Floating Parking” & Bike-Buffer Zones in Separated Cycletracks by StreetFilms

This type of design has a place in the bike-friendly tool box. Northern Michigan wouldn’t even need that many of them, but I could see them on our MDOT roadways, in and out of the City limits, and our heavier traveled city corridors like 8th St. and 14th St., for example. I’m not saying it would fit, but close your eyes and try to imagine a cycle track from Front St. at the Holiday Inn running east to the college. What a great connection?

Success In The Connections

What’s key though, and not shown in the film, are the transition points between intersections and connecting the cycle tracks to the streets where there isn’t enough room for separated infrastructure, or where it isn’t warranted.

Separated Lanes in Montreal

What I appreciate in Montreal, where I last pedaled in a place with buffered and separated bike lanes (as well as having traditional bike lanes, recreational trails, sharrows…), is the cohesion woven between all of the solutions to provide for as many users as possible safely and with convenient opportunities to get to the destinations you need to go to. Done well, cyclists do not feel like they are pushed aside to make way for motor vehicles. Instead, you always know where to go, that you’re respected as a cyclist and that you can reach your destination directly, comfortably and in style.


Close your eyes. Where and how do you see these designs working?

Thanks for the video heads-up, Virginia, (Ding! Ding!)

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  1. Scott Howard
    March 8, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I think this is a great idea for 8th street between Woodmere and Lake. It could help transform that into a cool, pedestrian friendly miexed residential/bussiness district with a front street type vibe.

  2. March 8, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I had the same thought before even reading your comment, Scott.

  3. Stephen
    March 8, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Cycle paths, although they look good on the surface, can dramatically increase the incidence of car-cyclist collisions.

    “Research presented at a conference at Lund University in 1990 found that “crash risk” for cycle users crossing the intersection on a set-back path are up to 11.9 times higher than when cycling on the roadway in a bike lane (see diagrams).” ( from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segregated_cycle_facilities#Safety_controversies)

    Basically, it appears that bike lanes are somewhat better than cycle paths in terms of safety, and I think safety (for everyone) should be one of the most important factors when determining which type of infrastructure to build.

  4. March 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you for your comment and the links, Stephen. Certainly, there is room for experimenting with the over-all goal of improving conditions of our cities to the point of encouraging everyone to hop on a bike for the most basic trips. In the end, perceived safety must be considered: separated facilities accomplish a confidence level that reaches many more people than basic bike lanes. This is why I stress the key to designing the transitions and connections. This facilities are also not the only thing to be done, people still need to develop the confidence and the knowledge to use the streets as shared roadways.

    The latest research, out of Montreal, suggests that separated paths are safer (28% more) and encourage more people to choose a bicycle than otherwise would. Here’s that study: Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street and an article about the study Cycletracks are safer than streets.

  5. March 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    One aspect that would need to change, and I believe it’s the same for when we implement a road diet along 8th, are the number of driveways. If we could limit/eliminate them, perhaps with more on street parking, the design options greatly increase. Of course, there are likely other solutions-just throwing out ideas.

    UPDATE: After driving this section of 8th St., I noticed that there aren’t as many driveways as I thought and many of the businesses have driveways on both the side street and 8th St. Seems more doable.

  6. Bob Otwell
    March 10, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Nice post Gary, cycle tracks are a great idea for us to think of locally. The topic of bike lanes versus cycletracks versus no separate bike space at all has been argued adnauseam on a bike/ped list serve I followed for ten years. What swung me over to be a proponent of cycletracks is that all of the cities in the developed world that have more than a 10% bike mode share have protected cycletracks. In the Netherlands, where cities average 30% bike mode share NATION WIDE, they have an interconnected system of trails, minor streets, bike lanes, and on the major roads, protected cycletracks. To get more people on bikes, I think this will be part of our future.

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