Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bike Box. Get Behind It.

The bike box. Cool to say. Even cooler to come upon. I've only ridden into a bike box a few times, and that was during my days in Madison, Wisconsin. I found them kinda cool and I felt safer in them then just in a bike lane or being a part of the vehicular traffic line at an intersection.

Bike boxes are the area between the vehicular stop line, crosswalk and curb edge. The area is made accessible by a preceding bike lane (typically found on the right side of the road). The area is there to provide a safer space for queuing bicycles at an intersection. It helps bicyclists clear the intersection faster by putting them out in front. By waiting in a bike box, cyclists don't have to sit behind idling cars breathing in noxious fumes.

Photo of a bike box.
Some bike boxes are painted, while others are denoted by a bicycle symbol between the forward stop line and crosswalk. They are anywhere from 10 - 16 feet deep, and the deeper they are the less likely cars are to encroach on them. Cyclists in a bike box still need to recognize and respect pedestrian's rights - no creeping up on the crosswalk! Here's a good video of how you use one.

Bike boxes might be making an appearance in a city or town near you in the coming years. They're becoming pretty standard in some of the progressive bike places like Seattle, Portland and Minneapolis. They are appearing in local bicycle master plan. They're also found in cities across Europe. They can look a little different, but they have the same purpose - to make it safer for bikes to ride through an intersection.


  1. I do a multi-modal commute every day because there are parts of my route that are too sketchy for me to ride. I have a folding bike that I keep in my trunk though, so I ride as soon as the road permits. With a few more bike boxes like this one though, I'd be able to start riding a lot sooner - that and if they widened the shoulders a little (perhaps they go together?)

  2. Much agreed! If you don't mind posting, in what areas or cities do you ride in as a part of your commute?

  3. T. Deoliveira, my name is Marvin Orellana and I am a photo editor at New York Magazine. I wanted to ask you in regards to the photo above. We are working on a piece that looks at the effective use of Bike Boxes and was wondering if you would be able to provide us with a high resolution images of the image above? Our deadline is today, please be so kind to let me know!
    You can reach me at marvin.orellana@nymag.com