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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seattle Buffered Bike Lanes

Just read and submitted a comment on Seattle's latest buffered bike lane.

It's an interesting experiment; however, I wanted to bat around the idea of whether the buffer space is better placed next to the parked cars, rather than between the bike lane and motorized traffic. A buffer space next to the parked cars would basically eliminate the door zone issues otherwise present whenever there is a bike lane and parallel parking. Even if the bike lane were narrowed from 5 to 4 ft for more buffer, the avoidance of door zone issues would be a huge plus. I venture that hit from behind incidents when a bike lane is present are rare, and that the added comfort from the buffer is illusory. What do you all think?


  1. The added comfort from buffered lanes is not illusory. A quick look at the places where more women, children, and elderly folks ride bikes will show you that buffered bike lanes provide more comfort for the most vulnerable road users-effectively increasing the mode share beyond spandex warriors and fixed gear freaks. See Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Beijing, Munich, Muenster and Freiberg.

  2. Good point. I was trying to weigh the door zone issue vs the traffic buffer though, and I'm not personally convinced that the buffer is better placed on the left vs right, if there is parallel parking.

    Speaking of which, I just read something about the possible increase of right hooks when there is a buffered bike lane, since cyclists won't be looking out for right turning cars, and motorists might have cyclists out of mind as well. (Similar problems are well known with parallel paths and intersections.) It would be interesting to see the results of crash rates in cities that have implemented these lanes.