A concern about the Island Bay cycleway is that it is unusual, and people are being expected to adapt to a road layout that is untested. So how unusual is the parking protected cycleway that is being implemented?
The answer is, not very. The model of a cycleway running between parked cars and the footpath is quite common, even outside of the uber cycle-friendly European cities. Although there is initial apprehension about the model, it is successful in encouraging more trips by bike.
There are several different models for cycleways. Here are some examples of one way, parking protected cycleways which is the model used for the Island Bay cycleway:
The Green Lane Project found that the number of protected bike lanes in the US had quadrupled since 2010, and one third of these use parked cars to separate bikes from traffic. In the first year, a protected bike lane on average increases bike journeys by 75% (with a corresponding decrease in motor car congestion).
Of course, not all of these cycleways were welcomed with open arms. As in Island Bay, some people find change difficult. When the Sherbrook St cycleway was introduced, some worried that it “might be a bit more confusing for drivers. They must make a wide right turn to get onto side streets, cutting across the parking and cycling lanes”. When the Salt Lake City cycleway was introduced, a business owner worried that “Everyone’s having a difficult time, and they do not know where to park”. Some simply had trouble understanding: Los Angeles drivers liked the Reseda Boulevard cycleway so much that they drove in it.
But as people got used to the protected cycleways, the concerns died away. In Salt Lake City, the cycleway increased business. Very few protected cycle lanes have been removed – an attempt to temporarily remove Chicago’s Kinzie St cycleway was rebuffed. An evaluation of the cycleway showed a 55% increase in bicycle use, with little or no effect on automobile travel time. An evaluation of protected cycleways in five US cities showed that “Support for the protected lanes among residents was generally strong with 75% saying that they would support building more protected bike lanes at other locations”.
Calls to remove the Island Bay cycleway are premature – the design is not radical, and has been shown to work well in a range of locations. Of course, there may be lessons to learned, but unless the planned evaluation and safety audit are allowed to proceed, we won’t find out.