Solving the Bus/Bike Leapfrog: Bus Islands & Buffered Bike Lanes in Seattle

Posted by Steve in Infrastructure on November 14th, 2011 – 3 Comments

The Williams Avenue Corridor Safety Improvement project aims to solve a number of multi-modal safety issues on the street.  One issue is the bus/bike leapfrogging, and a potential solution is to use “transit islands” or “bus pads” to route bikes behind bus stops.  They also double as pedestrian islands, shortening the distance one need expose themselves to oncoming traffic to cross.

This type of infrastructure is uncommon in the United States.  Thankfully, Seattle has decided to use bus pads in their new Dexter Avenue bikeway, have a look at this video for a peak:

There are challenges to implementing bus islands on Williams:

  • Trimet wants them to be 80 feet long to accommodate two buses at once, which makes it difficult to avoid driveways and displaces a lot of parking.  40-60ft might be workable.
  • Funding may be inadequate for civil engineering and construction, total budget for the entire corridor is around $400,000
  • When stops are near intersections, presents right-hook visibility and queuing problems
  • Ramps may have wheelchair accessibility implications

Another idea is to place the bike lane or cycletrack on the left side.  The challenges presented thus far to that configuration:

  • How to get bikes over to the left side of Williams, particularly near Broadway
  • Left-running bike lanes are unusual in Portland, drivers and cyclists may have difficulty predicting road user movements
  • Increased difficulty making right-hand turns

Either way, there are certainly innovative tools at our disposal.

  1. Chris Smith says:

    You can avoid the right hook challenge by putting them on the far side of intersections.

    This is essentially the configuration we used for Streetcar on Moody.

  2. Dwayne says:

    They have one of these (sort of) on Lovejoy at 13-14th and it’s treacherous, there’s always people standing around in the bike lane.

    • Steve says:

      Dwayne, that was sort of hodge-podged together and wasn’t part of the original design for that intersection. Now that Lovejoy has been decommissioned as a bikeway, it’s no longer there. It certainly was far from ideal.

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