February 04, 2014
Michael Andersen, Green Lane Project staff writer
The sign that a new idea is succeeding isn't when it scores some early victories. It's when it experiences setbacks ... and survives.
Here at Green Lane Project HQ, I'm pleased to say we're having trouble keeping up with all the protected bike lane projects popping up across the continent. Though we've just updated our database of proposed, planned and built protected bike lanes in the United States, cities of all sizes seem to be doing their best to make it obsolete as soon as possible. And as I went through the news from January, I noticed an interesting trend: even when bike projects suffer setbacks, advocates and city leaders continue to embrace protected bike lanes as a desirable solution.
This is what's happening in San Antonio, where advocates are conceding that an out-of-the-way protected bike lane project has failed but seem to be preparing to fight for a new one on a major commercial corridor:
It's happening in San Francisco, where the city's department of public works director unexpectedly pushed to the top of his priority list a protected lane on Polk Street that had been delayed for 10 years. Here's San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum:
It's happening in Rochester, N.Y., where a two-way protected bike lane is the latest (though still flawed) compromise proposal over a proposed road diet:
It's happening in a different sense in Boston, where advocates didn't even have to ask for a grade-separated bike lane to be included in a new set of plans because it turned out to be a possible solution to a biking/walking conflict:
It may seem strange to say, but more than anything else I've written about since we launched this site in 2012, these stories convince me that in big cities and in smaller ones, advocates and practitioners alike have come to see protected bike lanes as the future of bike infrastructure and, often, the next ring worth reaching for on their local political merry-go-rounds. It's a remarkable moment of consensus in the national transportation conversation.