When you wake up Wednesday morning, Capitol Hill will have the city’s first bike box

Right on schedule, the city is adding the first bike box in Seattle’s history to the intersection of 12th Ave and Pine. The work will begin sometime after 7 PM Tuesday and should be completed with a few hours work. The box is the first of two planned for 12th Ave — the next will be added at the intersection with Madison later this fall.

More details on the new addition to the city streets in this media release from SDOT including the rules for how cars and bikes should use the new markings. Cyclists, any advice for drivers when they encounter this new element of the roadway?

Neighbor Jerry provides this view from above


SDOT Installs City’s First Bike Box
New bike facility increases visibility and awareness; makes road safer for cyclists and drivers

SEATTLE – To create a safer roadway system and help encourage more bicycling citywide, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is today installing the city’s first bike box at E Pine Street eastbound at 12th Avenue. This fall SDOT will also emplace these new bike facilities at E Madison Street eastbound and westbound at 12th Avenue, and Seventh Avenue S northbound at S Dearborn Street.

A green box with a white bicycle symbol inside, a bike box is a nationally used intersection safety feature that prevents bicycle/car collisions by placing cyclists at the front of the vehicle queue. The boxes improve safety for all roadway users by increasing awareness and visibility of cyclists; helping cyclists make safer intersection crossings, especially when drivers are turning right and bicyclists are going straight; and encouraging cyclists to make more predictable approaches to and through an intersection.

When the traffic signal is yellow or red, motorists must stop behind the white line at the rear of the bike box and cyclists should enter the box itself. When the light turns green, motorists and cyclists may move through the intersection as usual, with cyclists going first. Motorists turning right on green should signal and watch for cyclists to the right, especially in the green bike lane of the intersection. New signage will help motorists and cyclists understand the new roadway feature. No right turns on red are allowed at these intersections.

SDOT is installing bike boxes this year as part of its Bicycle Master Plan implementation. These safety features are used in a number of other US cities to include Portland, New York City, Baltimore and Minneapolis.

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28 thoughts on “When you wake up Wednesday morning, Capitol Hill will have the city’s first bike box

  1. You’re assuming bicyclists actually follow the rules of the road. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a bicyclist actually stop at a stop sign or red light, instead of just wildly blowing through it.

    I’m sure there are some responsible bicyclists out there who DO follow the rules of the road, but they are few and far between, in my experience. Those who blithely follow their own rules on the road make things worse for everyone.

  2. 1. I will be the first to use the bike box.
    2. Why is the DOT putting a bike box on a incline?
    3. I also think someone will be injured due to the bike box placement.

  3. I was wondering the same thing –trying to imagine how this will work out.
    Pine has a lot of bus traffic at that intersection as well. Buses generally have the right of way and traffic should yield to them. But who trumps whom in this intersection? I think bikes do, right?
    Another question: when can a vehicle pass a bike? Is it legal to pass a bike within the intersection, or does one wait until the bike is through the intersection?
    Making note of this change as well: “No right turns on red are allowed at these intersections.” I suspect this means 24×7 and not just when a bike rider is in their box.
    What this means for me: if I’m driving and need to go east of 12th, I should use any street but Pine to cross 12th.

  4. San Francisco’s first bike box is located on northbound Scott Street at Oak Street. There is essentially a right turn lane there due to a fire hydrant, allowing right turns that do not enter the bike box. And, you can’t turn left onto Oak Street as it is a one-way street.

    I’d be curious what the traffic/road configurations are for other bike boxes in the cities listed.

    We will have our first bike box at an intersection that often backs up due to east bound vehicles on Pine making left turns onto 12th, when often only one car gets through per light. Police in that precinct are allowed to park in front of their building right up to the crosswalk, not allowing any room for right turns (or cars trying to get around someone waiting to turn left).

    What a planning fiasco.

  5. 1st question: How does anyone know what a grteen box means? Really.
    2nd question: Spending $20K painting a trial intersection instead of spending $200 and seeing how it goes reveals ignorance, insensitivity and spendthriftness no one wants. Get a job sweeping streets niot designing them.
    3rd question: Did the folks who brought us $500,000 public toilets go to work for SDOT or support this?
    I like the idea biut for his cost, todat and this intersection?

    Bikes are great but not a friggin religion.

    Stop wasting money and changing lanes markings when the economy is in the toilet and the City’s infrastucture is decaying and under funded.

  6. The Mayor is proposing to lay off 300 city workers and raising fees all around the city in his 2011-2012 budget, yet is wasting our money on this?

  7. Safety is more important than making sure cars can move quickly. Sure, the bikes will move back to the bike lane and cars will pass the bikes, but the point is the car drivers will have a clear view of the bikes and will not cut in front of them.

  8. Wow, it looks like CHS has been invaded by the Seattle Times comment crew. Look, people, cars do not have a god-given or constitutional right to move as fast as possible through the city. Once upon a time pedestrians, bikes, streetcars and cars all shared the road and all went slow. Then our society decided that the single goal of transportation planning should be to move cars as fast as possible and leave all other modes to fend for themselves.

    Bike boxes have been used all over the country and they are a proven technique for improving bicycle safety by forcing drivers to be aware of the other people they are sharing the road with. I don’t know if this is the ideal location or not, that would be interesting to investigate, but in any case we should (and I do) applaud SDOT for being one of the few forward-thinking city transportation departments in the country. Portland has had bike boxes for ages.

    As far as right turns go, most of Europe and parts of the US never allow right turns on red, nor should they. Right turns on red cause a massive number of accidents and conflicts with pedestrians and cyclists. Think about it: when the light is red but you want to turn right, you are creeping forward and to the right, but your eyes are looking to the left, looking for a break in the traffic. You are looking exactly the opposite direction you should be looking if you wanted to avoid hitting someone! It’s a terrible practice that is not common elsewhere in the world, and it absolutely should not be allowed. This is a welcome first step. Trust me, the lack of right turns on red will not lead to some massive increase in congestion. It will just (gasp!) mean you have to wait for green to go! Shocking!

  9. I’ve never seen such rabidness. Really. Are cyclists so weak out here that they can’t use common sense, follow the rules of the road and not play “who’s more entitled, me or the car”? I’ll be bike commuting on Friday while my car’s in the shop, where’s my city-appointed hand-holder to help me across the intersection? I’ll be waiting on Rainier S.

  10. It does seem wholly appropriate to me to spend a percentage of even scant municipal transportation monies on alternatives to privately owned, combustion engine driven, modes of transportation. I imagine myself to be like most other folks and respond slowly to change and only with positive and negative reinforcements both. It is my hope that an initial investment in formalizing bikes’ presence on city streets will lead to a safer experience for all and decrease the anarchic behaviors of many cyclists.

  11. As long as you don’t jay walk while painting it should be okay.

    Or just be prepared to accept the fine for jay walking (one punch to the face)

  12. New York City doesn’t allow right on red. It is pretty much the only place in the country to not allow it as a blanket rule and it exists because of the amount of pedestrian traffic.

    To say “parts of the US” is a little misleading. It is not common.

  13. Actually Steven, many people who move here from the east coast, not just NY, are shocked that right turns on red are allowed, and that passing on the right is legal as well.

  14. Sadly, I’m a daily bike commuter and I have to agree with raincitysun. I am so frustrated with my fellow bicyclists giving the rest of us a bad name. They are always going right through red lights and stop signs. Why? What makes them think they are immune? cut it out, guys!

  15. …I’m from the east coast.

    All 50 states, Washington DC, Guam and Puerto Rico allow right on red.

    In you have driven in the US in the last 30 years, then right on red is not new or shocking.

  16. I also agree. When do bikes ever have to stop? When they are behaving like cars, they go when the light is green. When they come to a red, they pull over into the crosswalk and become a “pedestrian”. My friends who bike commute say it’s perfectly legal. I know they’re taking their own lives in their hands doing this, but they still freak me out!

    Spending this amount of money on a ridiculous painting project is pointless with all the other funding cuts in town. I love the fact that we’ll have to pay more to park per hour, pay for more hours and pay for Sundays. Maybe if bikes want their fair share of the road, they can start paying some fees, too. Where do they think money for roads comes from? They’re not paying the taxes on gas to pay for their lanes. How about a fee to lock your bike up? How about having to register your bike with the state and attach a license plate?

  17. Very little research has been done on the effectiveness of bike boxes created in cities across the country. One study I could locate was from Portland: http://www.ibpi.usp.pdx.edu/bikebox.php

    The report released Sept. 9, 2010 (PDF file link) states in the conclusion: “The findings from both the video and survey data are generally positive. The bike boxes appear to be affecting behaviors that can improve safety for cyclists, and responses from both motorists and cyclists are far more favorable than negative. Compliance and understanding of the boxes by both motorists and cyclists is high and higher than found in several previous studies. This may be a result of the design (which includes instructions to “Wait Here” and prominent markings), the education efforts (including billboards, which 25% of the surveyed motorists remembered seeing), high rate of compliance with traffic controls generally, and/or a high level of awareness of cyclists on the road. Most of the boxes were installed on routes that had high bicycle traffic volumes. Pedestrians appear to be benefiting through a reduction in encroachment into crosswalks. Overall, the number of conflicts fell and yielding behavior increased, which should lead to improvements in safety. The only potentially negative finding was an increased level of encroachment from motor vehicles into the bike lane while making a right turn. However, the potential effect of this change on safety is unclear. Finally, the study’s findings with respect to colored vs. uncolored bike boxes are also unclear due, in part, to the intersections examined. The video data did not reveal a significant difference in motor vehicle encroachment into the boxes with or without color, though the motorist survey revealed a strong preference for color. In addition, cyclists appear to use the box more as intended with the color, which should increase their visibility and improve safety.”

  18. Was coming home from work and noticed the 12th and madison 10k waste is complete.

    Also noticed on the same trip a cyclist on the sidewalk instead of the big ass green box on 12th and Pine. What a complete waste of money. I’m guessing since it’s on an INCLINE the cyclist felt safer on the sidewalk and probably wanted to catch his breath at the top of the hill. Absolute insanity, I want to run for mayor so I can undo all this BS that’s taking place in my beautiful city.

  19. This will make a nice platform item for the next mayoral election. Why does McGinn think that people who aren’t fortunate enough to have offices within biking distance of Capitol Hill should put up with this? Traffic here is bad enough already without adding a bunch of amateur Lance Armstrong-wanna-be Posers to the mix! What did this little boondoggle cost the city and where did the funding come from? Who is paying for this, Bicycle Messengers? Other countries that embrace such extravagant measures do so by the grace of funds gathered from BICYCLE REGISTRATION TAXES. Why not do that here?

    Politics aside, I will start to respect the new “No Right on Red at Bike Boxes” rule when those same Cigarette smoking, Twenty-something Rolling Tattoo Shop advertisements begin to respect the “Red Lights Mean STOP, you Idiot!” rule and no linger whiz through intersections with their damn IPod headphones on.