Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cycle Tracks and the Evolving American Streetscape

In the taxonomy of city streets, the cycle track is the platypus. Sandwiched between the sidewalk and the parking lane — neither a trail, a sidewalk, nor a travel lane — it defies the conventional spectra of classification and challenges where the sidewalk ends and the street begins.
In spite of their curious and (as of now) sporadic cameos on American city streets, cycle tracks have long tradition in Northern Europe, and have more recently emerged on streets from Seoul to Seville. Since 2007, when New York City cut the ribbon on its inaugural Ninth Avenue cycle track, the movement for separated bikeways has accelerated in the United States; and culminated in 2011, with the publication of the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide, a catalogue of innovative bikeway design concepts for US cities.
The NACTO Guide heralds a new era of thinking about our streets and public spaces, discovering in the asphalt tundra of the American metropolis an unlikely well of creative potential. Along with a growing cadre of city street design manuals, the guide beckons the twilight of the motor century and upholds the growing sentiment that the antidote to traffic congestion is neither highway nor tunnel, but an imaginative repurposing and reallocation of the street itself. Today, as an emerging generation of designers and engineers rise to challenge the traditional rubric and protocol of traffic engineering, the first highly visible struggle will be that of the cycle track.
What follows contextualizes the cycle track in the lineage of transportation in the United States. Three persistent themes stand out: the tension between rural and urban transportation policy; the question of dedicating versus sharing road space; and the interpretation and limitations of conventional design standards and criteria.

photo by aprilshowers2462

more about bicycle planning:

The Case for Bike-Share

Tehran's "Bike House" Shines Green

Road hogs: Minneapolis cyclists don’t need to share

Walking, Bicycling, and Urban Landscapes: Evidence from the San Francisco Bay Area

Bike Shares Struggle To Work With Helmet Laws