Thursday, September 30, 2010

Intersection treatment

Seattle has started installing "bike boxes" at some downtown intersections. Portland has some; I've commented about them before HERE.

According to a news article, "the box allows bike riders to move ahead during a red light and sit at the front of the line of cars. When the light turns green, the bicyclists get to pedal ahead of the traffic." Motorists are not allowed to turn right on a red light.

This intersection treatment seems to be the polar opposite of what they do in these parts, where the bike lane stripe goes from solid to "dashed," indicating that motorists can slide over into the bike lane, and cyclists into the motor-vehicle lane, as seems fit. (I recently commented on an encounter I had with law enforcement, following confusion about motor vehicle use of bike lanes... confusion caused by the dashed line.)

Perhaps if I got a chance to put "bike boxes" to use, I'd become a believer. But on the surface, I have problems with lining up cyclists in front of cars at the intersection. It might reduce the number of "right hook" collisions, but I can also totally appreciate how motorists could feel resentment toward cyclists who slow them down when the light turns green. Way down deep, I continue to believe that as a general rule, cyclists fare best when they are treated the same way as drivers of motor vehicles. The bike boxes are one more attempt to "have our cake and eat it too," or a subtle implication that cyclists aren't smart enough to negotiate an intersection without special treatment.

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