Memphis chosen for Bikes Belong's fast-track effort on protected lanes

D.C. StreetsBlog points out another sign of progress toward making Memphis a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly city:

The Bikes Belong Foundation has chosen six cities to fast track physically protected bikeway designs that make cycling safer and more accessible to a wide range of people.

Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco and Washington D.C. will receive a leg up from Bikes Belong's new "Green Lane Project." The two-year, intensive technical assistance program is intended to help these cities develop protected on-street bike lanes and make this type of bike infrastructure a mainstream street design in the U.S.

Here's some background on protected bike lanes, which are a different animal than the basic lined bike lanes that are being installed in Memphis on roads like Madison. Think more along the bike lanes on Broad Avenue that are separated from moving cars by on-street parking. (A bid two years ago by bicycle advocates to install protected bike lanes in Cooper-Young was shelved as part of a compromise with the neighborhood's merchants.)

Protected bike lanes are widely employed in countries that have achieved high rates of cycling, such as the Netherlands. In America they were pioneered by the New York City Department of Transportation in 2007, and have since been implemented in Washington, D.C., Portland, and Chicago.

Protected lanes have been shown to be safer than ordinary bike lanes and more likely to encourage people to take up cycling. But they are considered "experimental" treatments in the gospel of traffic engineering, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which has stymied their adoption throughout the United States.

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