Safer cycling

Olympia transport group proposes enhanced bike lanes on streets


The Olympia Public Works Transportation Group proposed the inclusion of enhanced bike lanes in the Engineering Design and Development Standards or EDDS, tying it to future road works in the city.

Joey Johnson, a project engineer with the Public Works Transportation group, discussed the enhanced bike lanes at the Planning Commission meeting yesterday, August 1.

Johnson said the Public Works has been updating EDDS annually. This year, they are proposing three changes or additions that they wanted to add in the EDDS chapter 4, which discusses transportation:

  • Drawings of five types of enhanced bike lanes
  • Text about when space must be provided on major streets
  • Changes to standard drawings

"We are all used to seeing [traditional] the bike lanes out on the streets - you have your 10- to 11-foot typical travel vehicle travel lane and then a five-foot bike lane right next to that,” Johnson explained. The enhanced bike lane provides additional protection or more separation for cyclists.”

“It just enhances the five-foot lane,” added Johnson.

Why enhanced lanes can be expensive

Johnson cautioned that enhanced bike lanes could be expensive because they take up more space to create separation from the vehicle travel lane.

"We need more physical space, whether the additional right of way or whatnot. This can add a substantial cost. We need to be strategic, and we have to plan them," he said.

Building bike lanes

Johnson said their goal is for the enhanced bike lanes to become part of all arterials and major collectors. Arterial roads are streets with the highest volume of vehicles per day, while major collectors are the next level down with how many cars travel on them daily.

To add an enhanced bike lane, Johnson said there might be a need to widen the road itself and reconstruction. "When we have major road reconstruction projects, we could add enhanced bike lane at that time."

He also anticipated segments of enhanced bike lanes through frontage improvements in the development, whether commercial or residential.

New cost for real estate developers

The city would require developers to incorporate enhanced bike lanes on over 300 feet of frontage improvement.

The committee is currently looking at building enhanced bike lanes for the upcoming major street reconstructions at Fones Road, Mottman Road, Wiggins Road, and Martin Way.

Proposed designs

Johnson presented five proposed bike lanes drawings they plan to include in the EDDS. He said it would be the standard for these projects and private developments:

  • Buffered bike lane – is the least separated enhanced bike lane. It is a two-foot minimum buffer that would separate cyclists from vehicle lanes.
  • Separated bike lane – it has a three-foot minimum buffer and some vertical elements to increase that separation for the cyclist. This vertical element can be many things. It can be tubular markers, it could be planters, or it could be moveable planters.
  • Parking-protected bike lane – it could be built on streets that have parking. The bike lane is inside the parked car toward the sidewalk. The parked vehicles act as the vertical separation from the travel way.
  • Shared-use path – is similar to the raised and curb-separated bike lane. Johnson said it has a broader sidewalk where bikes and pedestrians use the lane.
  • Raised and curb-separated bike lane - the bike lane is at the sidewalk level. The cyclist is inside the planter and protected from the vehicles.

"You need some sort of delineation where the bike lane is and where the sidewalk is to avoid conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists," Johnson said, adding that his particular design is what they are looking at for Fones Road, Johnson noted.

Johnson added that the shared-used path should be used in an area with fewer bike and pedestrian volumes.


6 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • Honestyandrealityguy

    So many cities have compromised vehicles, 99% of transportation and made the streets so dangerous. Hope that is taken into consideration.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2022 Report this

  • Miller19

    For what bikers?

    Tuesday, August 2, 2022 Report this

  • WilliamPorter

    I am a daily bike commuter (14 miles round-trip, four days a week, up and down Harrison Avenue and State Avenue from the Safeway on the Westside to Tanglewilde Lumber on the Eastside) and I rarely feel safe on the streets. Beyond just the usual drunk and high drivers making me feel unsafe, I have had people in cars seem to target me with their vehicles while I'm riding. I've had people speed past me, slam on the brakes, and get out of their cars to harangue me for 'taking too much road.' I know several people who would prefer a bike ride in the morning (burns fat instead of money) instead of a car commute, but won't risk injury and death for it. For the folks who love their cars, and don't care about the environment or their own health... would you like a stent with those knee replacements? They'll give you a great deal - just another mortgage to pay the insurance adjusters!

    Wednesday, August 3, 2022 Report this

  • Miller19

    Catering to an extreme minority (bike commuters) is not a good policy. To the bike riders out there, some of us have places we need to be.

    Friday, August 5, 2022 Report this

  • STN

    I currently don't feel safe biking in the city, especially not with my 10 year old. She would love to bike more, as would I. I have a feeling there are many of us - not hardcore bikers or commuters who would really appreciate these lanes. And if course it's greener and hopefully easier to find bike parking than car parking.

    Sunday, August 14, 2022 Report this

  • Citizen

    Current new bike lanes in Olympia, prohibited right turn on red for vehicle traffic. Right turn on red improves the flow of traffic, diminishes traffic jams, and eliminates some auto exhaust by moving vehicles instead of vehicles sitting in traffic waiting for a green light.

    Personally, I been at these intersections waiting for a green light when formerly I could turn right on red. To date I have not seen 1 bicyclist at the intersection. Is this a solution looking for a problem that does not exist?

    As our population increases, we have more vehicles on the road. Increased traffic jams in retail areas will occur, because, in part, no one can turn right on red will limit shoppers. It is already difficult to shop downtown with limited parking and narrow streets. Head to the strip malls, mall, and big box stores instead. There is parking and a better flow of vehicle traffic.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2022 Report this