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This summer the City of Ithaca will install bike lanes on North Cayuga Street after it is repaved. We have a choice, we can install the standard unprotected lanes or join a growing number of cities seeing a huge increase in cycling by installing a two way, flex post protected bike lane on one side of the street.

Protected bike lanes have proven to be the best tool for encouraging an increase in cycling among the majority of people who are interested in getting around by bike but are concerned about safety.

Protected bike lanes are safer for cyclists, create increased awareness and less speeding among drivers, increase safety at intersections for people walking and biking, and also dramatically reduce the number of cyclists who ride on sidewalks.

A recent study of protected bike lanes in the US and Canada found that flext post protected bike lanes were a particularly effective and affordable treatment and that cyclists prefer this treatment over standard bike lanes, parking protected bike lanes and even bike lanes protected by cement curbs. Flex-post protected bike lanes can fit in the exact same space that the proposed unprotected bike lanes would require but will be dramatically more effective and safer.

While standard bike lanes are likely to result in a small increase in people riding bikes along Cayuga, they will also visually widen the road, which has been shown to increase vehicle speeds, and they will place cyclists in the “door zone”, the area where parked car doors swing open. Using a two-way protected bike lane on the side of the street opposite the parked cars removes the danger of being “doored” and visually narrows the lanes where cars drive providing a traffic calming effect without actually changing the width of the lanes.

North Cayuga Street is an excellent location for the City of Ithaca to join the protected bike lane revolution that has provided safer streets for people on bikes, on foot, and people in cars around the country from Washington DC, and New York, to San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, and even Austin, TX. The repaving of North Cayuga is the perfect time to get started!

Check out this video about the rise of Protected Bike Lanes and join the movement to bring protected bike lanes to Ithaca.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.