Portland installs their first bike box

Portland has always been an extremely bike-friendly city. It looks to me like they’re taking new steps to implement a project called bike boxes. These “boxes” look like color-coded areas within car lanes that add a good bit of padding to the area directly before intersections. Check out this photo for a good illustration (more photos):

Flickr photo by BikePortland.org

PortlandOnline describes them thusly:

The bike box is an intersection safety design to prevent bicycle/car collisions, especially those between drivers turning right and bicyclists going straight. It is a green box on the road with a white bicycle symbol inside. It includes green bicycle lanes approaching and leading from the box.

This is fixing a big problem we currently have in Chicago. A law was recently passed that imposes a hefty fine ($500) on any cars that turns left or right in front of a biker, but it really does nothing to stop the problem (I was almost hit in this manner this evening). Most drivers simply do not care.

Most bikers, if possible, filter their way to the front of a stopped column of cars using the lane or space nearest the curb and get in front of all of the cars, trying to squeeze into the area between the first car and the crosswalk (or immediately in front of it, depending on the specifications of the intersection).

I would really hope that the City of Chicago–which is typically fairly bike forward–is looking into these bike boxes here. What other cool biking constructs are out there that I don’t know about?

The Oregonian: Portland thinks outside ‘bike box’