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How To Design A Safe Intersection For Cyclists

Salt Lake City will be the first American city to build a protected intersection for bikes.

Bike lanes are great, but they can’t protect cyclists riding through busy intersections, where 38% of all cyclist fatalities occurred in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In Salt Lake City, a new intersection design could provide a safer alternative for cyclists and drivers alike.

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The design, modeled after comparable intersections in the Netherlands, uses concrete islands to create intersecting lanes for bikes to turn and cross separately from cars. Along with timed traffic light signals and other features, the design could greatly increase cyclists safety on busy roadways, says Robin Hutcheson, Salt Lake City’s transportation director. When the intersection is built, Salt Lake City will become the fist U.S. city with a protected intersection for bikes. Here is a breakdown of how the design works:

Corner Refuge Islands
One of the most terrifying things about cycling in a city is when a car makes a right turn–straight into your bike. The corner refuge island is designed to prevent that. It’s a concrete bumper that hugs the corner of an intersection, physically separating cars and cyclists as they turn right.

The Forward Stop Bar
The forward stop bar is a line in the intersection where bikes wait for a light to change. It’s positioned in front of the crosswalk, whereas cars have to wait behind a line positioned on the other side of the crosswalk. That gives cars a clear view of the cyclists in front of them. It also gives cyclists a head start for crossing the street (and shortens the distance they have to travel to get through the intersection).

Setback Bike Crossing
The bike lane is set back about one car length to the right from traffic on the street, giving cyclists a buffer zone in which to cross.

Signal Phasing
Special street lights will alert cyclists when it’s their turn to cross the street.

The intersection is expected to be completed in October, and will cost $150,000.*

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[via CityLab]

*This article was updated on May 14th to include the cost of the intersection.

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I'm a writer living in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Interests include social justice, cats, and the future.

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