Bike Boxes explained

Portland bike box where cyclist had been killed

photo credit: bikeportland.org

At last week’s focus group input meeting, the term “bike boxes” came up during a discussion of intersection accommodations for bicycles. You’ll soon see them installed in Dallas as part of the Bike Plan along with cycletracks, bike lanes, and sharrows. Here’s a primer on how they work:

A Bike Box, or Advanced Stop Line (ASL) is a designated safe place at the front of an intersection so people on bikes queue up in front of car traffic. The National Association of City Transportation officials lists the benefits:

  • Increases visibility of bicyclists.
  • Reduces signal delay for bicyclists.
  • Facilitates bicyclist left turn positioning at intersections during red signal indication. This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Facilitates the transition from a right-side bike lane to a left-side bike lane during red signal indication. This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Helps prevent ‘right-hook’ conflicts with turning vehicles at the start of the green indication.
  • Provides priority for bicyclists at signalized bicycle boulevard crossings of major streets.
  • Groups bicyclists together to clear an intersection quickly, minimizing impediment to transit or other traffic.
  • Bicyclists can avoid breathing exhaust while queued at the signal.
  • Contributes to the perception of safety among users of the bicycle network.
  • Pedestrians benefit from reduced vehicle encroachment into the crosswalk.

Portland started deploying them in 2007 after two right-hook cyclist fatalities, as have other cities (New York, Austin, San Francisco). Researchers in Portland studied bike box response behavior and found that a majority of drivers were made more aware of bicyclists:

89 percent of motorists surveyed prefer the green-colored bike boxes to those that consist only of a white outline. Also, 43 percent of motorists surveyed feel the bike boxes make driving less convenient at the intersections, while 55 percent believe the bike boxes make drivers more aware of bicyclists generally.

Here’s a Streetsblog article showing installation of bike boxes in San Francisco; notice their boxes aren’t painted, but applied like stickers, and they feature a grippy surface to aid stopping.

If you want the full video experience, this Streetsblog film shows the Portland boxes in action.

Portland (Green) Bike Box! from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

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One thought on “Bike Boxes explained

  1. [...] Bike Boxes explained by bikedenton At last week’s focus group input meeting, the term “bike boxes” came up during a discussion of intersection accommodations for bicycles. You’ll soon see them installed in Dallas as part of the Bike Plan along with cycletracks, bike lanes, and sharrows. Here’s a primer on how they work: … [...]

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