How Does a Bike Box Work?

Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdot_photos/">SDOT</a>

Accidents between bicycles and vehicles usually come in two forms.

  • The left-hand turn, where a vehicle turns directly into the path of a cyclist going the opposite direction.
  • The right hook, where a vehicle passes a cyclist riding in the bike lane or right shoulder going the same direction, then immediately makes a right turn into the cyclist's path.

To address the second example, some of America's friendliest cities for cyclists are starting to pass legislation to help prevent the right hook. And it is in a often-colorful section of the road called an advanced stop line, better known as a bike box.

More: How to Handle a Bike Accident With a Vehicle

What is a Bike Box?

The bike box is a space in the intersection (often painted a different color, like green) that allows cyclists to position themselves ahead of vehicle traffic at an intersection. Basically, traffic at an intersection with a bike box would have to stop a few feet farther back than normal to give legal space to cyclists.

How Does it Help?

In a standard intersection where the bike lane is to the right of the road, a bike box will allow cyclists to continue going straight through an intersection without worrying about vehicles that are turning right (thus preventing the dreaded right hook). If a bike box is used correctly, the cyclists will be in front of all vehicles at a red light.

In other instances, like one-way streets in New York City, bike lanes are on the left, so bike boxes allow cyclists to turn right without having to cut through lanes of vehicle traffic.

More: Important Safety Tips for Bike Commuters

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