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Protected bike lanes go mainstream

Photo by Chris Brunn

Photo by Chris Brunn

Angie Schmitt writes about the expansion of modern bike infrastructure:

Protected bike lanes, “green lanes,” or cycle tracks, as they are sometimes called, like the Prospect Park West bike lane are upsetting the transportation status quo in more and more cities across North America. Similar treatments have transformed Dearborn Street in Chicago, IL; Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC; and Market Street in San Francisco, CA.

In fact, it’s getting to the point where if your city doesn’t have a protected bike lane yet, it’s being left behind. Last year alone, the number of protected bike lanes in the United States nearly doubled from 62 to 102. This year, the number is expected to double again. Protected bike lanes are now in place in 32 cities across the United States, according to Martha Roskowski, director of the Green Lane Project, a nonprofit project of bike advocacy group Bikes Belong. The organization is working with six US cities to install protected bike infrastructure.

Meanwhile, in Lincoln, Nebraska:

Rendering from City of Lincoln, Alta Planning & Peopleforbikes

Rendering from City of Lincoln, Alta Planning & Peopleforbikes

In May, Nebraska's state capital and second-largest city (population 265,000) plans to start installing a three-quarter-mile, two-way protected lane on N Street, running east and west through its downtown. It'll be the first protected bike lane west of Minneapolis, north of Austin and east of Denver — and, if early renderings are accurate, it'll be one of the best-looking bike lanes in the country.

With bright green colored crossings and seven blocks of planted medians that will double as storm drainage, the $1.7 million project is part of Lincoln's effort to capitalize on its increasingly desirable downtown.

At another point in Lincoln's history, removing auto parking and travel lanes to make more room for bikes might have seemed like a sure-fire way to drive away business. But today, developers are eagerly investing millions along the planned bikeway — even adjusting their own plans to accommodate it.

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