Bill at Twin City Sidewalks:
Bicycle Curb Cuts & the Devil in the Details
Every time a driveway or a parking lot or a street intersects with a bike path, there’s a choice to be made. Do you prioritize the automobile traffic and force bicycle riders to go awkwardly up and down the often-crumbling curbs? Or, do you prioritize bicycles and pedestrians and force cars to go up and down a ramp.
First, these bike path intersections can serve as speed bumps, slowing down car traffic at precisely the intersections where they most need to be cautious. Second, the grade separation signals a point of difference for car drivers. The elevation change physically marks a difference between the parking lot or street, an encounter with pedestrians or cyclists who may be zipping past.
Third, and more subtly, having an at-grade curb cut really makes a difference for people riding bicycles or in wheel chairs. Each time you have to slow down and cautiously bump your way up and down another curb cut, it destroys a little bit of your joy.
In my bike trips experiences in Europe, I’ve seen off-street bike paths that prioritize cyclists, forming a nice level path for people doing active transportation. This is pretty rare around here, though. Almost the only example I can think of is the new Phalen Boulevard bike path, where the curb cuts are designed to keep bikes on the level. I say it all too rarely, but good job St Paul!
I couldn’t agree more with Bill. This is a very simple design detail that is a no-brainer for low-volume private driveways. It should also be at least considered for all but the highest-volume driveways. And a gold star for any agency willing to consider this treatment at locations at some public roadway intersections.