INDIANAPOLIS — The city of Indianapolis’ Department of Public Works has installed the city’s first “bike box” at the intersections of 71st Street and Cross Key Drive and 73rd Street and Spring Mill Road on the city’s northwest side.
A bike box is a colored area marked on the pavement at intersections to designate a space for bicyclists to pull in front of waiting automobile traffic. This new street feature aims to reduce car-bike collisions, increase cyclist visibility, and give bicyclists a head start when a light turns green.
These additions will enhance safety along a busy corridor of the city’s transportation network. An increasing number of cyclists are traveling on West 71st Street because it connects the Monon Trail and Eagle Creek Park.
“Our city continues to gain national prominence as a bike-friendly community, and promoting and enhancing safety on our city’s streets and bike lanes is a priority,” DPW Director Lori Miser said. “Simple features like bike boxes are easily built into our existing street projects, and they have the potential to increase safety for cyclists and drivers.”
Bike boxes are particularly effective at reducing the likelihood of a “right-hook” collision, one of the most common types of accidents between motorists and cyclists. Right-hook collisions occur when drivers turn right as a bicyclist proceeds straight through an intersection.
In most cases, the bike box is a 14-foot wide rectangle marked in front of the stop line for motorists but behind the pedestrian crosswalk. The box typically extends the width of one or more travel lanes and provides room for several bicyclists. Bike boxes are also often used in conjunction with bike lanes, from which bicyclists pedal directly into the box. Bike boxes have been in use since the late 1980s in Europe and Asia and have been gaining in popularity in recent years in cities across the United States, such as Portland and Salt Lake City.