07 September 2018

"Green Boxes" In Grand Rapids

One of the hazards of many streetside bike lanes is that they make it dangerous for cyclists to proceed through intersections, especially where motor vehicles are allowed to make right turns on a red light--or where trucks or buses are making right turns.

In fact, I once made this argument with a police officer who insisted that he was himself a cyclist.  I told him that at some intersections, it's all but impossible for a cyclist to proceed through the intersection if he or she doesn't get out ahead of the motorized traffic--which means proceeding just before the light turns green.

It's even worse when the lane is next to the center median on a multilane road, as it is in the recently-constructed lane on a section of the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.  If you need to turn onto a side street from that lane, you have to cross two lanes of traffic.  And most drivers aren't going to wait for you to turn in front of them when they have the green light.

The Grand Concourse lane in the Bronx.

(Of course, things are even worse when the lane ends.  Then, you have no choice but to turn--or to ride in a traffic lane.)

American cities that are trying to make themselves "bike friendly"--or seem that way--almost never seem to take such things into consideration.

One of those exceptions is Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The city has just implemented "green boxes" at two downtown intersections:  where Lyon and Pearl Streets meet Division Avenue.

I could not find a drawing or photo with those boxes. I was, however, able to find a Google map of the Pearl Street intersection.  It's pretty easy to see where the "green box", if it's done right, would be:

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