The Design Decision Behind Cleveland's Backwards Buffered Bike Lanes

The curious case of Cleveland's new "buffered" bike lanes. The question: Why are the buffers placed between the bike lane and the curb?

1 minute read

September 19, 2015, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


"Cleveland is finally installing buffered bike lanes along some major streets, but with the buffer between the bike lane and the curb, not between the bike lane and traffic," reports Angie Schmitt.

Schmitt, along with blogger Marc Lefkowitz, have been digging into the configuration to discover why the buffer wasn't placed between the bike lane and the vehicle lane, as with most buffered lanes. Lefkowtiz gained access to an email between Cleveland traffic engineer, Andy Cross, and the advocacy group Bike Cleveland, in which Cross explains his decision about the configuration:

"The terms 'best practices' and 'protected' are often used with what is shown in the NACTO guide...A design that encourages or requires hook turns across the path of through cyclists is neither a 'best practice' nor ‘protected.'"

Schmitt notes that Cleveland's design decision is unconventional enough that some have speculated the configuration "was lifted not from a design manual but from Iamtraffic.org, a website that espouses vehicular cycling." The concern with the decision, according to Schmitt, is that "ineffective design threatens to sabotage the usefulness of the new infrastructure."

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