If you drive or bike in Minneapolis, you’re going to want to learn what these traffic symbols mean.
They’re contained in a new pamphlet the city has issued about the new markings. What are the odds most people are going to know what most of these mean?
The one that is the most interesting — in a Minnesota way, of course — is the “bike box.”
Here’s how the city explains it:
A bike box is a type of advanced stop bar that is used at some signalized intersections. The bike box includes two elements 1) an advanced stop line for motorists to wait behind and 2) a marked spaced for bicyclists to wait in. When the traffic signal is red, motorists must wait behind the bike box and behind the stop line. Bicyclists are allowed to ride into the bike box and wait for a green signal. When the traffic signal turns green, motorists must yield to bicyclists before proceeding or making a turn.
The purpose of a bike box is to allow bicyclists to wait at the front of traffic queues so they are more visible to motorists. This is to improve the safety of bicyclists at intersections.
When you drive:
If the traffic signal is red, you must wait behind the bike box and behind the advanced stop bar.
When the traffic signal changes to green, you must yield to bicyclists who are waiting in the bike box.
Look for additional bicyclists that may be approaching on your side.
When you bike:
As you approach an intersection with bike box you may ride up to the front of the traffic queue. If the traffic signal is red, you may wait in the bike box.
When the traffic signal changes to green, you may proceed through the intersection or make a turn.
Bike boxes come to us from Europe and Asia, where they’ve been used since the ’80s. “Studies by Danish road engineers and transportation planners have found that bike boxes significantly reduce the number of crashes between right-turning motorists and bicyclists going straight through the intersection,” according to Street sWiki.
That’s probably true and that, of course, is a good thing. It’s also true that motorists around here hate the idea of someone sneaking in front of them. It also doesn’t appear that the city is going to brightly paint the boxes, which might be advisable.
The city installed six bike boxes in 2010 on Hennepin and First.
(h/t: Burl Gilyard)