VIDEO: Are ‘Protected Intersections’ the Next Bicycle Infrastructure Innovation?

The City of Cincinnati and other area municipalities have been working to improve the region’s bicycle infrastructure in order to both make cycling more attractive and safer. Those improvements have included new bike lanes, sharrows, cycle tracks, trails and dedicated parking for bikes.

City officials say that protected bike lanes, like the cycle tracks to be installed along Central Parkway, offer the larger population an incentive to get out on their bicycles. Those officials point to results from public polling that show large percentages of people that would be open to riding bikes if they felt safer on the roads, and that protected bike lanes would do wonders to accomplishing that.

But Nick Falbo, an urban planner and designer at Alta Planning+Design, thinks protected bike lanes aren’t enough.

“Protected bike lanes lose their benefits when they reach intersections,” Falbo states in his six-minute-long video proposal. “The buffer falls away and you’re faced with an ambiguous collection of green paint, dashed lines and bicycle markings.”

In his submission to the George Mason University 2014 Cameron Rian Hays Outside the Box Competition, Falbo proposes what he calls the Protected Intersection – a design overhaul for intersections that he says will not only improve the value and safety of protected bike lanes, but also make the intersection more usable for all modes of traffic.

“It doesn’t matter how safe and protected your bike lane is, if intersections are risky, stressful experiences. We need to make intersections just as safe and secure as the lanes that lead into them. What the protected bike lane needs is a protected intersection.”

  • Mark Christol

    madness

  • Guest

    I really liked the video, and think that it communicates a wide range of issues related to bicycles and intersection design effectively. Ultimately, I don’t believe that it is really possible to nominate any single type of intersection design as always being the safest for cyclists, or anybody else. However, the intersection design described in this video would certainly make sense for a lot of junctions.

    I really liked your inclusion of the “simultaneous green” for bicycles concept, though this is not an entirely new idea. The same signal phasing for pedestrians at intersections has been called a “pedestrian scramble phase”, a.k.a. “The Barnes Dance” (named after the famous traffic engineer, Henry Barnes, who some say invented them). I think that going forward, it should be possible for traffic engineers to design junctions in which cyclists and pedestrians can safely enjoy a shared scramble phase. In face I have recently proposed such an arrangement for junctions along the Wasson Way, a shared-use path that is currently being planned in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • http://christophernealwyatt.wix.com/portfolio Christopher Neal Wyatt

    I really liked the video, and think that it communicates a wide range of issues related to bicycles and intersection design effectively. Ultimately, I don’t believe that it is really possible to nominate any single type of intersection design as always being the safest for cyclists, or anybody else. However, the intersection design described in this video would certainly make sense for a lot of junctions.

    I really liked your inclusion of the “simultaneous green” for bicycles concept, though this is not an entirely new idea. The same signal phasing for pedestrians at intersections has been called a “pedestrian scramble phase”, a.k.a. “The Barnes Dance” (named after the famous traffic engineer, Henry Barnes, who some say invented them). I think that going forward, it should be possible for traffic engineers to design junctions in which cyclists and pedestrians can safely enjoy a shared scramble phase. In fact I have recently proposed such an arrangement for several junctions for the Wasson Way Project, a mixed-use trail project that is being planned for Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • Matt Jacob

    I feel like even though there are islands telling cars where they can go for righthand turns that they’d cut the corner (depending on how it’s actually built). Posts might be needed and the radius made smaller.
    Plus what is the advantage of having a sea of sidewalk vs a sea of road? I guess less maintenance/wear and tear, but still not visually great to look at. Wouldn’t this just be “over-engineered” sidewalks? If the space is needed for bikes/peds, you can’t even utilize them for planters, outdoor seating, or other uses that engage people and isn’t that the goal of taking back part of the street?

  • Michael Haas

    By “modeled after Dutch intersection design” surely he means “absolutely copied from Dutch (and Scandinavian) intersection design. Surely. Good idea to bring to the US – it works well here in Stockholm- but innovative? I think not.