Last summer, Vancouver installed a test protected bike lane on one of their bridges, and now they have seen a 30 percent increase in cycling. Despite some sharrows painted on Louisville’s Second Street Bridge, cycling across the span can feel pretty dangerous and this perception has been a deterrent to many cyclists.
I have never tried to bike across the bridge for just that reason, but every time I walk across, it’s still a little death-defying as motorists routinely ignore the posted speed limit and fly by at amazing speeds. This seems especially true of dump truck drivers who often use the bridge (or perhaps it’s just the sheer mass of their vehicles).
The only time the bridge is really congested is during the rush hours. The rest of the time it’s wide open, which has the effect of inducing speeding. Sure, the Big Four Pedestrian & Bike Bridge will open sometime, but that’s over a mile and a half away from the intersection of Second and Main Streets.
But what if we followed Vancouver’s example and tried out a protected bike lane? Because the bridge is relatively narrow at four lanes, it would be important to implement reversible lanes to maintain auto capacity. Congestion only occurs in one direction, so one lane in the opposite direction for the rush hours shouldn’t be a big deal.
During the morning rush hour, two lanes would flow from the Indiana side into Louisville and in the afternoon, two lanes would flow from Louisville to Southern Indiana. While motorists are stuck in traffic, cyclists would have a clear, protected path to breeze by stopped cars. (The protected bike lane would also get timid cyclists off the already-too-narrow sidewalks as well.)
Above is what the Second Street Bridge looks like today and an example of what the protected bike lane could look like. A jersey barrier would be installed to block off a lane for bikes which would then be divided in two to create a distinct lane for each direction.
I believe positioning the lane on the west side of the bridge would be ideal as the intersection with Main Street on the Louisville side would avoid more turning conflicts and feed directly into the arena site. There are similar benefits on the Southern Indiana side.
What do you think of a dedicated lane? Is it a good idea that would increase safety and ridership or way too idealistic or just generally a bad idea? It would be more difficult to install on a test basis as it would require the configuration of a reversible lane system, but could the region benefit from such an innovation?
If you don’t now, would you be more likely to ride your bike across the bridge with a protected lane? Or if you already do, would you feel safer with the lane?
StreetFilms put together a look at the Vancouver trial. It took Vancouver 15 years to implement the lane after residents began to petition for it, but after almost a year, Streetfilms says “most are happy with the implementation and residents favor continuing the trial by a margin of 2 to 1.”