Bridging the Opportunity Divide

America’s 10 Best Bike Lanes

December 25, 2014
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America’s 10 Best Bike Lanes
Bicyclists wait at a stoplight on San Francisco's Polk Street, which was recently named the best bike lane in the U.S.. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Take a ride on these top roads.

It was just seven short years ago that that New York City created the United States’s first protected bike lane. Since them, as part of an effort to get more cyclists on the road, more communities across the country have embraced safer bike lanes.

Currently,  there are 183 projects throughout the U.S., according to PeopleForBikes, an advocacy group based in Colorado. The organization recently mapped out the best projects and designs cropping up; as protected bike lanes become the norm, smaller cities should take note of these standout designs.

“Last year there were only a handful of cities building protected bike lanes. It was really the cool cities — the innovative, creative leaders,”says Martha Roskowski, head of the Green Lane Project program. “Now, we’re seeing a lot of other cities are getting on-board and implementing them.”

Among the top is San Francisco’s Polk Street, which is distinguished by its separation from cars and opposite flow of traffic, according to Martha Roskowski, who heads PeopleForBike’s Green Lane Project program.

Here are the top 10 projects, according to PeopleForBikes:

  1. Polk Street, San Francisco
  2. 2nd Avenue, Seattle
  3. Riverside Drive, Memphis, Tenn.
  4. Rosemead Boulevard, Temple City, Calif.
  5. Furness Drive, Austin, Texas
  6. Broadway, Seattle
  7. SW Multnomah Boulevard, Portland, Ore.
  8. Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh
  9. King Street, Honolulu
  10. Broadway, Chicago

While many Dutch and European bike lanes are uniform design, Roskowski notes that American projects have taken on distinct characteristics based on each city. Chicago and Seattle have prioritized low-cost strategies, while San Francisco bike lanes are focused more on aesthetic. But each design has its benefits. For example, the cheaper model, she adds, helps cities get more residents to adapt the model.

“As you get more people riding, it builds support to go back and do more robust facilities,” Roskowski tells Fast Company. “The big jump in ridership happens when you really make those connections — point A to point B — and people can get where they want to go.”

MORE: The Verdict on Protected Bike Lanes

 

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