The spray paint outline is down on Pine for a bike box at 12th, in front of SPD’s East Precinct. This is one of several bike boxes scheduled to go in this year. Bike boxes will be installed on Madison northbound and southbound at 12th, and one will be installed on 7th Ave S northbound at Dearborn in the International District). The bike box at Pine and 12th should be installed within a week. The others should go in this fall, according to SDOT.
So what’s a bike box? Well, let’s just ask Streetfilms:
Do road users understand how to use the bike box?
Yes. Video analysis showed that 73% of motor vehicle operators stopped in the correct position behind the bike box and 86% of those surveyed said they understood the markings. 73% of people on bikes stopped ahead of the motor vehicle stop line, but interestingly, only 5% of bike riders positioned themselves in the bike box (out of the bike lane) in front of the motor vehicle stop line. That number jumped to 38% when someone on a bike was already in the box, showing how people were less timid to move in front of stopped motor vehicles if someone else had done it first.
Does the green color make a difference?
Researchers acknowledged that study limitations made it difficult to draw clear conclusions to this question. However, nearly 90% of motor vehicle operators said they preferred the color and people on bikes used colored boxes as intended more frequently, both of which the report said, “should increase their visibility and improve safety.”
Do the bike boxes improve safety?
This is the most important question. In terms of number of conflicts and yielding behaviors — yes. The research found that the number of conflicts decreased and the yielding behavior increased. According to the research, the number of observed conflicts decreased from 29 to 20 while the number of people on bikes increased 35% and the amount of motor vehicle right-turns increased by 7%.
On top of these real safety increases, the perception of safety increased dramatically:
Of particular interest is that 42% of motor vehicle operators who do not ride bicycles felt that driving through the intersections was safer with the bike boxes (compared to 14% who felt it was more dangerous). 77% of people who biked through the intersections felt they were safer with the bike boxes.
Portland had a nice marketing campaign to make sure people understood how the bike boxes are intended to work, so it will be interesting to see how quickly Seattleites (both drivers and bikers) pick up on how to use them.
(Thanks for the tip, Michael A)