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A bicycle boulevard is a low-speed street which has been "optimized" for bicycle traffic. Bicycle boulevards discourage cut-through motor-vehicle traffic but allow local motor-vehicle traffic. They are designed to give priority to bicyclists as through-going traffic. They are intended to improve bicyclist comfort and/or safety.
Bicycle boulevards attempt to achieve several goals:
- discouragement of non-local motor vehicle traffic;
- low speed limits;
- low motor-vehicle traffic volumes;
- free-flow travel for bikes by assigning the right-of-way to the bicycle boulevard at intersections wherever possible;
- traffic control to help bicycles cross major arterial roads; and
- a distinctive look and/or ambiance such that cyclists become aware of the existence of the bike boulevard and motorists are alerted that the street is a priority route for bicyclists.
These bikeway design elements are intended to appeal to casual, risk-averse, inexperienced and younger bicyclists who would not otherwise be willing to cycle with motor vehicle traffic. Compared to a bike path or rail trail, a bicycle boulevard is also a relatively low-cost approach to appealing to a broader cycling demographic.
A bicycle boulevard is generally marked with a sign at the beginning and the end of the bicycle boulevard. Also necessary for the road to be called a bicycle boulevard is coloring; in the Netherlands, the parts of the road where the cyclists ride on is marked in red (same color as used for segregated cycle facilities in the Netherlands). These sections of the road are called rabatstroken. Motorists also ride on this section, yet also have a non-colored part of the road which they can drive on with one half (2 wheels) of the car when they wish to pass a cyclist.
Bicycle boulevards may use a variety of traffic calming elements to achieve a safe environment. This makes it difficult for motorists to use the street at a high speed. However, they do not block access to motor vehicles completely (i.e. using bollards) which would designate the route as segregated cycle facilities rather than a bicycle boulevard.
Some bicycle boulevards have higher road surface standards than other residential streets, and encourage riders to use the full lane, encouraging parity between bicycles and motor vehicles.
Discouraging non-local motor vehicle traffic
Permeable barriers such as bollards are sometimes used to allow cycling traffic to continue through while diverting motorized traffic from using the street as a through street.
||The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with North America and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
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- Arizona: Tucson
- California: Palo Alto, Berkeley, Emeryville, San Luis Obispo, Long Beach
- Florida: Gainesville
- Minnesota: Minneapolis, Saint Paul
- Missouri: Columbia
- New Mexico: Albuquerque
- North Carolina: Wilmington
- Oregon: Portland and Eugene
- Oklahoma: Tulsa
- Washington: Seattle
- Wisconsin: Madison
In Berkeley, boulevards are mostly residential streets, but some sections pass through commercial areas. Generally there are few cars on these streets, in large part because of the pre-existing traffic calming devices that slow and/or divert traffic. Bicycle boulevards may or may not have bicycle lanes.
In Minneapolis, a grant from the federal government within the Non-Motorized Pilot Program has helped to build a bike boulevard on Bryant Avenue, and the planning of others.
Similarly in Columbia, Non-Motorized Pilot Program project has helped fund the first bike boulevard in the State along Ash and Windsor Streets. At least on other is being planned.
In Wilmington, help from a Fit Community 2009 grant through the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund enabled the City of Wilmington to construct North Carolina's first bicycle boulevard. The Ann Street Bicycle Boulevard runs from South Water Street to South 15th Street and serves as part of the much longer River to the Sea Bikeway, which connects downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach.
In Portland, a $600 million plan for the years 2010-2030 has the goal of making 25 percent of trips in the city be by bicycle through the establishment of 700 miles (1,100 km) of new bikeways; one of the projects within the plan is to combine the work on street features that reduce stormwater runoff with the construction of curb extensions and other components of bicycle boulevards.
In Albuquerque, a city with over 400 miles (640 km) of on-street bicycle facilities and multi-use trails, the grand opening of the first bicycle boulevard in the state of New Mexico was held on April 14, 2009. The bicycle boulevard runs from San Mateo Blvd SE, west along Silver Ave SE/SW to 14th St SW. It then continues north on 14th St to Mountain Rd NW. The last leg of the boulevard continues west on Mountain Rd NW to the Paseo del Bosque Recreation Trail which parallels the Rio Grande.
In Madison almost every major artery has a bike lane in which bicycles have a protected place to bike in the street. The first full bicycle boulevard spans East Mifflin Street in Madisons Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood, a second spans the entire length of Kendall Avenue in University Heights and the Regent Neighborhood.
The City of Berkeley, California, is credited with coining the phrase "Bicycle Boulevard" in the late 1980s, but not every jurisdiction has adopted this term. As of November 2011, the City of Boston has decided to use the term "Neighborways" instead of Bicycle Boulevards. This just adds to a growing list of terms for Bicycle Boulevards since Portland has been calling them "Neighborhood Greenways" and Seattle has named them simply "Greenways".
Other commonly used terms for bicycle boulevards include:
- Bike Boulevards
- Quiet Streets
- Neighborhood Byways
- Bicycle Friendly Streets
- Bicycle Friendly Corridors
- Bicycle Parkway
- Neighborhood Parkway
Similar road designs outside the USA
In the Netherlands they have a similar road design called a fietsstraat (bike street) — although most residential streets in the Netherlands that do not have either on-road bike lanes or segregated bike lanes come under the American definition of bicycle boulevards. A fietsstraat in the Netherlands can link dedicated bike-only paths, service roads, and other types of bike-friendly street configurations to complete a route. (Extensive amount of information has been written on these facilities at the Pedal Portland blog and the Northeastern University webpage.)
In Amsterdam for example, around 40% of journeys are by bicycle and transport planners at the Dienst Infrastructuur Verkeer en Vervoer (Directorate Infrastructure Traffic and Transport) have adopted a bicycle policy that blends many different bike-friendly street designs such as segregated bicycle lanes, on-road bicycle lanes, and fietsstraat streets, among others. The general concept here is that cyclists can integrate relatively safely with vehicular traffic that is travelling at, or below, 30 km/h (19 mph) but that segregated bike lanes should be installed along roads with a higher speed limit. With these, and many other, bike-friendly policies in place, Amsterdam has the highest rate of cycling of any capital city in the world.
In Germany they have a similar road design called a Fahrradstraße (bike street), introduced into the Highway Code in 1997.
In Belgium, the rue cyclable (in French) or fietsstraat (in Dutch) was introduced into the Highway Code with effect from 13.2.2012. However, there was already one in the Visserij in Ghent (Gent/Gand) in the summer of 2011. The first one appeared in Brussels in 2013, on a service road alongside avenue Louise.
- Bicycle boulevard sign (Netherlands and Belgium)
- Image of colored parts of the road and non-colored section
- John Forester (29 June 1992). "Proper Strategy for Cyclists: Cyclist-Inferiority or Vehicular-Cycling?". Usenet newsgroup news:rec.bicycles. Archived from the original on 2003-04-30.
- "Bicycle Boulevards". City of Minneapolis. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
- Krieg, Martin. "Founder". National Bicycle Greenway (NBG). Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- James Mayer (March 6, 2010). "Mayor Adams finds $20 million for bike boulevards". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Silver Avenue Bike Boulevard Grand Opening; Posted on April 14, 2009, 9:55 pm, by Ben Savoca, www.bikeabq.org
- "Worse than Manhattan? Bike expert rattled by ride through city", The Srattle Times, June 25, 2013: A1
- (Dutch) Dienst Infrastructuur Verkeer en Vervoer, official website of the Dutch Traffic and Transport Infrastructure Service
- Bicycle boulevard in Utrecht
- Another bicycle boulevard in Utrecht
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