Raised Bicycle Lanes

Steve Hill on Next Door last year proposed having raised bicycle lanes at the level of sidewalks such as exist in parts of Europe.  I think this a very good idea on the busier streets of our city trafficked by students bicycling to school and others simply bicycling for pleasure or to get around where typical Class 4 protected bicycle lane are not possible because streets are simply too narrow.

An example is at De Anza Blvd. which is a very busy street whose bicycle lanes are restricted in width due to poor design decades ago when bicycles were not a consideration. It is a major thoroughfare yet dangerous to bicycle.  I occasionally bicycle along this route but feel very uncomfortable due to my close proximity to cars.  I am a senior of modest bicycle riding skill.  The sidewalks are usually greatly underutilized.  If the bicycle lane could be raised to the level of the sidewalk and made a bit wider into the underutilized sidewalks this would provide a bicycle lane that would be as safe as a common Class 4 bicycle lane.

There are streets like Rainbow Dr. between Stelling Rd. and Bubb Rd. which meanders and is too narrow for a bicycle lane so cars and bicycles must share this heavily used road. It becomes very congested by parents driving their children to the 4 nearby school. Children riding their bicycles to school must share this narrow road with traffic.  Currently many students illegally ride on the sidewalks to stay out of car traffic.  Raising a narrow portion of the road to sidewalk level and making the sidewalk a little narrower so a decent bicycle lane can be created will provide a far safer and legal path for bicycles to ride.

Another example is the narrow strip of road frequented by bicycle riders on McClellan Rd. between Stelling Rd. and De Anza Blvd. that is too narrow for both bicycles and pedestrians in a small strip close to Stelling Rd.  A raised bicycle lane along here would be much safer if slightly widened onto the sidewalk.  Where it is too narrow for both bicycles and pedestrians let both share the same path with pedestrians having priority.  This would be no different than where cars and bicycles share the same space at right turn intersections and other road space like the freeway exit in front of The Oaks.

Another road that could benefit from raised bicycle lanes is along Bubb Rd. between Rainbow Dr. and McClellan Rd. where many student are driven to the three schools and some students also bicycle to school.  There is a bicycle lane that is too narrow to make into a normal Class 4 protected bicycle lane but a raised bicycle lane might solve this problem.  If the school side of the bicycle lane could be raised and made wide enough for two-way bicycle traffic and parking permitted on the other side of the road this would provide a safe bicycle route for students.  Trash collection could be scheduled for the weekend.  Weekend trash pickup has already been tried and is feasible.

There are many other streets that I am not familiar with that could also benefit from raised bicycle lanes.  There are bicycle lanes that are between street level and sidewalk level that could also be made but these cannot easily be made wider into underutilized sidewalks.

About Frank Geefay

Sustainable Bicycle and Smart Growth Advocate
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