It’s a bike box. As we’ve reported before, bike boxes are a method to help protect bikers by making them more visible at intersections. They can also help with turning maneuvers.
Seattle’s first real bike box was installed last night on Pine at 12th. One cool thing I noticed while passing by was that the stencil crews were using for the sharrow markings were cut from a recycled cardboard box.
I bet the biggest complaints about the bike box will be the removal of the right turn on red. However, as Josh at Publicola pointed out months ago, much of the world exists without right turns on red at all, and they are doing just fine. In fact, until Gerald Ford, the U.S. was doing just fine without them, as well. They are dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians (not to mention other vehicles), and I would love to see Seattle embrace more right turn on red restrictions. Once the First Hill Streetcar goes in, right turn on red bans are going to be necessary to protect cyclists in the cycle track, so there are more of the restrictions to come (hopefully).
Cars have little to fear from bike boxes. Bikes often use the space in front of cars as waiting space anyway, and these boxes just give them a space to do it without blocking the crosswalk. I also like how the city’s first bike box is going in directly in front of the SPD East Precinct. I imagine we will see more consistent compliance there…