Stating it would “totally revolutionize” bike facilities in the United States, John Forester of the Federal Highway Administration spoke to various bike and walk advocates on Monday to answer questions about the new FHWA separated bike lane planning guide.
“With this guide, we’ve unleashed American ingenuity and know-how to solve a problem that no one else has considered. Actually, we didn’t consider if anyone else had considered the problem, because from the outset this was about getting the best in good ‘ol American design, and we want our bike lane guide to become part of Americana lore. Our hope is that Don McLean writes a song about our manual some day.”
The creators of the manual noted that crashes at intersections made up 90 percent of the crashes that did occur — up from 70 percent before the facility was installed — indicating that intersections are where they need to put their focus. They did just that. Diagrams below from the manual show some of the intersection treatments. We rode with a Chevy Suburban driver, who answered our questions while fumbling with her cellphone. “This is great. I expect that next time I make this right turn going 25 mph, this green paint will stop me in my tracks. After all, someone’s kid could be riding in that lane”, said Kailyn Smith. “Knowing this is here would encourage me to get my 8 year old biking”, she stated as we drove to pick up her daughter from soccer practice a half mile from her house.
“Our new guidance will apply everywhere in the same way. Want to ride your bike on State Road 7? There’s an APP (Applied Principle for bicycle Parity) for that. Page 2,343 specifies how to make a safe bike lane in this intersection. Just add a mixing zone!” Photo below shows where this might apply: The bike lane is between the triple left turn lanes and 4 through lanes, and the double right turn lanes.
Asked about the proven Dutch and Danish designs that have had 30 plus years of real world testing, Forester scoffed at the notion. “That might work in Europe, but this is America. Here, we expect ice in our iced tea, and a certain level of challenge in our bike lanes. It’s the American way.”