Protected bike lanes get federal approval

Protected bike lanes, sometimes referred to as "cycle tracks" or "separated bike lanes," have been officially endorsed by the Federal Highway  Administration.

In this post from PeopleforBikes.org, FHWA states that "separated bike lanes have great potential to fill needs in creating low-spectrum of bike facilitiesstress bicycle networks,"citing last year's study by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities. "Many potential cyclists (including children and the elderly) may avoid on-street cycling if no physical separation from vehicular traffic is provided."

So, what is a protected bike lane anyway? In technical terms, it's an "exclusive facility for bicyclists...that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic with a vertical element." Put simply, it's a bike lane where the first thing a reckless motorist would hit is not you or your children, but a curb, parked car, post, or other inanimate object.

Protected bike lanes are ideal solutions for cities that want to make daily bicycling a safe, convenient, and viable option for residents and tourists. Now, these common sense facilities are mainstream and non-controversial (at least from an engineering perspective).

For expert guidance on how to design and implement protected bike lanes, look to the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.