In this period of eco-friendly thinking, where gas use is discouraged, many have resorted to bicycle commuting as an alternative locomotion. As ridership increases each year, the safety of cyclists becomes the dilemma at hand. Bicycle safety is foremost directly correlated with the design, placement, and amount of bike lanes. According to Core77 via Dustbowl, Bike lanes establish a well-defined boundary beyond the envelope of the bicycle, providing a greater margin of safety between the car and the cyclist. These drawn boundaries between cyclists and motorists encourage more people to bike and even navigate through accommodated streets. However, transportation planner Paul Chimek argues that bike lanes do encourage bicyclists and motorists to violate the rules of the roads. Schimek provided an example of a bicyclist making a left turn from a bike lane, violating the rule of merging to the center of the road before turning because they feel constrained by the lanes. The Brooklyn Paper claims that bike lanes offer a false sense of security to bicyclists as drivers often overlook them. Bike lanes cannot be statistically proven to have a direct cause and effect on safety measures or accidents, because most bicycle accidents are not recorded and often disregarded. Nonetheless, we still reach the consensus that these seemingly innocent white dotted lines “generate immediate response form motorists, pedestrians and even cyclists who the lanes are designed for.”
As bike lanes are not widely available because of their steep installation cost of $5,000 to $50,000 per mile, Alex Tee and Evan Gant from Altitude Inc. developed Lighlane, a working prototype of a laser light that projects a virtual bike lane onto the pavement. Instead of forcing cyclists to adapt their behavior to the existing infrastructure, Lightlane allows the bike lanes to adapt to the cyclists.
Another more direct intervention took place in Portland, Oregon in 2008, where bright green rectangular bike boxes reserved exclusively for cyclists were installed at a few accident-prone intersections. These were designed to reduce “right-hook” collisions, in which motorists make a right turn into the path of bicyclists.
Bicycle Transportation Systems from Colorado envisions the future of mass transportation to be an interstate highway style transportation corridor named the TransGlide 2000 Bicycle Transit System. Featuring a constant powered air movement in the direction of riding, this proposal is supposed to ”match the carrying capacities of rail systems at an affordable cost level.”
Similarly radical is Designer Martin Angelov’s “Kolelinia,” a midair bike lane system based on steel wire track suspended above the city. Kolelinia aims to create a new experience beyond the simple act of transporting oneself. This project was officially presented at the TEDx conference in Sofia, Bulgaria.
In Tom Vanderbilt’s book Traffic where he discusses why we drive the way we do and what it means, Vanderbilt writes that what white lines do is enable drivers to drive faster and, intentionally or not, close together. The way bike lanes function makes people question whether they should exist at all and whether a radically new and innovative transportation system such as TransGlide 2000 and Kolelinia is viable and safer than bike lanes.
Dan Ballou, Gregor Mittersinker, and David Swett, "Light Lane – Concept from Altitude’s Alex Tee and Evan Gant," Dustbowl, entry posted January 9, 2009, http://dustbowl.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/light-lane-concept-from-altitudes-alex-tee-and-evan-gant/ (accessed October 14, 2010).
Paul Schimek, "Bike Lanes," Bicycle Driving, entry, http://bicycledriving.org/bikeways/bike-lanes (accessed October 14, 2010).
The Brooklyn Paper. "City needs to solve bike lane problem." Editorial, June 18, 2009. http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/32/24/32_24_editorial.html (accessed October 14, 2010).
Jesse Fox, "Portland’s Bike Boxes: Making Cars More Polite," TreeHugger, entry posted March 23, 2008, http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/03/portlands_bike_boxes.php (accessed October 14, 2010).
Angelov, Martin. "Kolelinia." Kolelinia. http://kolelinia.com/kolelinia/ (accessed October 14, 2010).
Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 199.
"BTS TransGlide 2000™." Bicycle Transportation Systems, Inc. http://www.biketrans.com/info.html (accessed October 14, 2010).