The Year of the Protected Bike Lane

Building a network of protected bike lanes is one of the most powerful ways to make biking in San Francisco safe and inviting for people of all ages. Protected bike lanes use planters, curbs, parked cars or posts to create a safe, designated space for people biking that’s separated from motor vehicle traffic.

The benefits of protected bike lanes reach beyond people biking. Cities across the country have shown that investing in protected bike lanes significantly improves safety for people walking and driving, too. Protected bike lanes clearly delineate space for different road users, making everyone more visible, predictable and safe.

Three types of protected bike lanes

Parking-Protected Bike LaneParking-Protected Bike Lanes
These put the bike lanes between the curb and a row of parked cars, using the parked cars to separate people biking from roadway traffic. It’s important to design these correctly so that there’s no additional risk of “dooring” (when a car door opens into the bike lane in the path of an oncoming person biking), but when they’re done well, they make it safer for everyone biking and help calm traffic.

Where we have them: JFK Drive
Where they’re coming to in 2015: Bay St., 13th St., and Upper Market St.

Bikeway-typesPlanted Median Protected Bike Lanes
Planted median protected bike lanes put a physical concrete barrier, often planted with flowers or low-level shrubs, between the bike lane and traffic. Other U.S. cities have gotten creative by using medians made of flower pots, street furniture and artwork for separation.

Where we have them: The award-winning stretch of Polk St., from Grove St. to Market St.
Where they’re coming to in 2015: Fell and Oak Streets

Raised Bike LanesRaised Bike Lanes
Raised bike lanes add a layer of concrete or asphalt on the street so that the bike lane is a bit higher, between the height of the sidewalk and the height of the roadway. This improves safety for people on bikes by giving vertical separation from the roadway, but still allows for loading and unloading access for people with disabilities or delivery needs.

Where we have them: Nowhere… yet.
Where they’re coming to in 2015: Market St. (Octavia to Gough), Valencia St. (Duncan to Cesar Chavez)

We love protected bike lanes here at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. We love them so much we want 100+ miles of them across our city. Protected bike lanes will be the greatest recruitment tool our movement can have for getting people of all ages biking more often – plus they will create safer, more vibrant, low-stress roads for everyone. Your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is working hard to bring many more to life in coming years. In the meantime, pedal around to get a taste of the future, and get email updates by signing up for our weekly newsletter!

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