BY G. RYAN SMITH, ASLA
In cities across the country where newly striped bike lanes are seemingly rolling out by the week, separated bike lanes would seem to be the holy grail. By giving cyclists their very own part of the public realm, they practically embody the exceptionalist case for bicycle infrastructure—a demonstrable victory of cyclists over the potentially deadly hazards of motorists who will never learn to be more careful behind the wheel. But separated bicycle lanes, also called cycle tracks or green lanes, are a considerable investment. The price per linear foot of recent projects has run between $120 for simpler installations with flexible posts to $2,000 for elaborately integrated systems. If properly done, they can greatly enhance the active transportation metabolism of a city. If not done right, they can seem pointless.
Landscape architects are only getting started in the design of separated bicycle lanes, also known as cycle tracks or green lanes, but so is everyone else. There are 270 cycle tracks in the United States as of this year, up from 78 in 2011, according to the advocacy group People for Bikes. Cycle tracks are more common in Europe than in this country.
Cycle tracks have their fans and their skeptics, given their significant variations on (more…)