Concord committee hopes to demo a different type of bike lane

  • A bike lane protected by parking is seen in Arlington, Va. Elvert Barnes—Flickr Creative Commons

Monitor staff
Saturday, July 29, 2017

Concord cycling advocates are planning to demonstrate a different type of bike lane that uses parked cars as a barrier between traffic and riders.

The event was originally scheduled for next week, but has been put off until a future date, said Craig Tufts, the co-chair of the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Subcommittee.

“The way a traditional bike lane works is the bike lane is right against car traffic,” he said. “That’s considered good for people who already identify themselves as bicyclists, but when you think about kids – or I think about my mom – she’s not going to ride on Main Street next to cars, but she would ride on a bike path or a rail trail.”

A re-envisioned configuration of street spaces can create the feeling of a separated bike path within the same roadway, Tufts said.

It’s called a “cycle track” or “protected bike lane,” and it calls for drivers to park away from the curb to create a gap area that acts as a sanctuary for bicyclists. It takes up slightly more space, but could be achieved in some areas within Concord, he said.

“This is really popular in Europe, where it almost looks like the bike lane is the sidewalk. In American cities, this is becoming more popular,” Tufts said.

The city’s transportation committee hopes to demonstrate the concept at an event to get people acclimated to the idea in case it could be utilized on new or rebuilt roads.

One conceptual idea that Tufts said has been discussed considers the upcoming Storrs Street extension. If it included a cycle track that connected into the Northern Rail Trail, cyclists could hop on in Lebanon and ride directly into Concord’s downtown without ever brushing up against vehicles.

Another area he identified is State Street.

“If you think about it, having a protected cycle track the length of State Street would be able to get people who aren’t comfortable mixing with traffic all the way through the major downtown area,” he said, adding that it also connects into bike-friendly side streets.

“You could ride in on a low-stress street, and then State Street would be sort of the backbone that brings you into all these downtown areas.”

The demonstration was originally planned to happen on Broadway during National Night Out, but police felt there’s already too much going on at that time to introduce new traffic patterns, Tufts said.

The Transportation Advisory Committee’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee has temporarily put the project on hold while its volunteer members work on other tasks, Tufts said. But they still believe the demonstration will be worthwhile.

“If these ideas aren’t so foreign, people might be more open to it,” he said.


(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)