The news: Say hello to the bike lanes of the future, which could help save hundreds of lives a year. Portland, Ore., urban planner and designer Nick Falbo has designed these bike lanes, which include protected intersections, preventing cars from having the opportunity to bonk a bicyclist.
The protective bike lane island stretches farther into the intersection, allowing bicyclists to turn without exposing themselves to traffic making right turns or at the light. It has the side effect of creating a buffer zone for pedestrians as well. The curved section located in front of the crosswalk serves as a space for bicyclists to wait for a changing signal.
Falbo told Wired that the system could be integrated into an improved signal system that includes directions for bicyclists, further decreasing the dangerous potential of urban biking.
In short, they're pretty cool.
One potential downside is that some engineers are skeptical that large trucks will have enough turning radius, but Falbo claims that professional drivers are more than capable of making such tight turns.
Why you should care: Have you ever biked in a major city? It's terrifying. Turn signals and lanes aren't designed to accommodate bicyclists, who are treated like second-class citizens. Some cities are particularly bad, like New York City, where obstructions (including illegally parked cop cars) commonly litter designated lanes:
New York City is notoriously awful for bicycle safety, even previously refusing to release information on where and how many accidents happen on a geographic basis.
Nationally, some 726 bikers were killed in traffic accidents in 2012, barely down from a decade earlier. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 49,000 bikers were injured in 2012, up from 48,000 in 2011. An estimated 29% of all those injuries are caused by collisions with cars.
While the new lanes would be safer than existing bike lanes, Falbo says a greater benefit would be enticing more people to bike.
"We're trying to attract more riders," he told Wired. "Some of these conventional facilities, they work and they're safe, but they're stressful, and that level of stress and lack of comfort is what will keep the average American from feeling like they can ride."