If you haven’t noticed yet, something a bit different is emerging alongside several of Seattle’s roadways. No, we’re not talking about foreign weeds or unsightly debris. We’re talking about protected bike lanes; and as always, the Phillips Law Firm is here to ensure you understand all the pertinent facts.
The Master Plan
Seattle’s emerging new bike lanes are all part of a master plan…the Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) to be precise. The BMP is part of Seattle’s Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) overall plan to make Seattle’s streets safer and more accessible for bicyclists. According to the SDOT website, Seattle’s new bike plan helps “eliminate perceived risk and fear of collisions; reduce the risk of dooring crashes; and add a level of predictability making streets safer for everyone.” The SDOT website also expresses a hope that the master plan will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of our residents. Over the past four years, SDOT has invested nearly $36 million in bicycle improvements under the BMP.
What do the New Protected Bike Lanes Look Like?
If you haven’t seen one of Seattle’s new bike lanes, they’re essentially a two-way protected bike lane that is located on one side of a street. The lanes are separated from traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars, and/or posts. Please take a closer look for yourselves:
The Green Lane Project
Seattle’s new protected lanes, and the BMP, are part of the Green Lane Project. This project is a multi-year program designed to build better bike lanes throughout U.S. cities. The first two years of the project (2012 and 2013) focused on improving the bike lanes in: Austin, TX, Chicago, IL, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA and Washington, DC. In March of 2014, the project selected six new cities, including Seattle.
The project’s goal is to create a connected system, within its targeted cities, for bikers to travel more easily around town. The project hopes this goal will result in: increased safety for bikers and motorists, increased convenience for both, and increased financial savings for both. The project also hopes more convenient access to safer bike lanes will result in people living a more active life style.
Be a “rOLL Model”
The SDOT website expresses that the organization wants to be a “rOLL model.” It admits that safety is its primary concern and the number one goal under the BMP. According to the website, SDOT’s “long term goal is a city with zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries.”
Education, however, is a central element within SDOT’s mission. It hopes to educate both cyclists and motorists on the rules of the road and how to use new bike improvements. The following video does a great job at summarizing SDOT’s efforts and goals.
What Do You Think?
The Phillips Law Firm is interested in hearing your thoughts on Seattle’s new protected bike lanes and the SDOT’s BMP. Our firm encourages greater safety measures that protect both motorists and bicyclists. Of course, we are committed at getting justice for you. However, we also want safety for our citizens.
Due to the recent emergence of Seattle’s new bike lanes, no definitive studies currently exist to suggest whether they actually help achieve SDOT’s intended goals. Do you think they will? Or, do you believe better measures exist to achieve these same goals? Please contact us with your thoughts.