Thursday, July 18, 2019

BikeWalkLee: Safety? Think inside the box

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, July 18, 2019
by Ken Gooderham

Motorists and cyclists who frequent the Daniels Parkway-Treeline Avenue intersection will see some changes in the weeks ahead – hopefully changes for the better.

bike box design picture
Courtesy Florida Dept. of Transportation

As part of an ongoing resurfacing project contractors with the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT) are planning to install bike turn boxes at this high-volume (for both cars and cyclists) intersection. This is a pilot project partnered by FDOT, the county DOT and the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization.

It’s another step in the slow evolution of local roadways to better accommodate on-road cyclists and motorists sharing the same asphalt – by ensuring everyone has a space on which to travel in a way that’s safer for both users.

In this instance, the test bike boxes are meant to make it easier for cyclists making left-hand turns at intersections such as this one – multi-lanes, lots of signals and traffic, plenty of potential for confusion. These green-colored boxes make it clear where and when cyclists should go to safely turn. Here’s how it works:
  1. Cyclists heading east on Daniels (and wanting to turn north onto Treeline) approach the Treeline intersection using the “keyhole” lane (the narrow lane at an intersection between the right-hand turn lane and the right-hand straight lane of traffic). If the light is red, they gather in the green box in front of the right-hand lane of eastbound traffic (but clear of the right-turn lane leading south on Treeline).
  2. When the left-turn signals turn green, vehicles from both directions on Daniels make their left-hand turns. Cyclists wait.
  3. When the straight-ahead signal turns green, vehicles proceed east and west on Daniels. Cyclists leave the first green box and cross the intersection to gather in the green box on Treeline in front of the right-hand lane of traffic (but, again, clear of the right turn lane from Treeline to Daniels).
  4. After the left-turn signals for Treeline onto Daniels have cycled through and the straight-ahead green comes on, cyclists proceed north on Treeline with the northbound vehicle traffic.

Trust me, explaining it in writing is confusing, seeing this work in a graphic or video (one is in the works) is easier to understand.

So how is this better for everyone moving through the intersection?

Cyclists: The keyhole lane gives them a safe way to approach the intersection from the bike lane without impeding motor vehicles wanting to turn right onto Treeline. They can gather in front of vehicles and out of the crosswalk (and pedestrian traffic), and move across the intersection with traffic to the northbound Treeline box – again, out of the crosswalk and the Treeline left-turn lane. Once the Treeline signal turns green, cyclists can proceed with traffic north on Treeline to the bike lane. It might end up taking a little longer for cyclists to make the turn, but it will be a whole lot safer.

Motorists: By giving cyclists their own space at the intersection, motor vehicle traffic can continue on its merry way in concert (not in conflict) with cyclists. Right- or left-hand turns can proceed based on traffic, and crosswalks will be reserved for pedestrians only – which, to be blunt, already are an endangered species at this and many other SW Florida intersections. For the most part, motorists will be able to proceed at the same forward speed cyclists or no cyclists… just not so much season (snowbirds) or no season.

By moving with traffic, cyclists are safer. By creating distinct and separate spaces for cyclists with a clear path to proceed, drivers can worry less about sharing the road with bikes and more whether that big truck pulling up behind is really going to stop.

A brief shout-out to keyhole lanes, which are being added to more and more intersections locally. If you’re up to riding on the road to begin with (a big IF for some cyclists), these lanes are a much safer way to go through intersection by moving with traffic – rather than hoping a driver sees you in the crosswalk, or doesn’t pull so far forward to see oncoming traffic prior to a turn that they block the crosswalk altogether. Let’s hope Lee DOT keeps adding these lanes wherever possible, and thanks.

Nevertheless, these boxes are a safe solution for intersections such as this – lots of lanes and lights, not much opportunity for cyclists to proceed with traffic safely, and plenty of both bicycles and motor vehicles trying to get from Point A to Point B. (Both Daniels and Treeline are popular with road cyclists both because of their bike infrastructure and because they tie in to other bike networks well used by local (and serious) cyclists.)

At smaller, less frantic intersection, cyclists can still act like vehicles when approaching and traversing… pulling into the left-hand turn lane (if one exists) to turn left with the other traffic, or using the keyhole land (if one exists) to proceed straight ahead. It’s only the big, busy intersections that benefit from thinking outside (or, rather, inside) the box.

Want to find out more about the boxes? Download the explanatory handout at FDOT.

Ready to ride or run? 

Run? A pretty empty calendar for organized events, as you’d expect given the weather… with only two Elite Events offerings through the end of August – the Eagle Lakes 5K on July 27 at Eagle Lakes Community Park, Naples, and the Rampage 5K on Aug. 24 at North Collier Regional Park (

Ride?  Critical Mass amasses tomorrow (July 19) for the NE Lee ride, July 26 for Cape Coral ride, and July 27 for the morning Slow Roll through downtown Fort Myers. For the night rides, front and rear bike lights required; helmets recommended for all ( Next week is the final session for the Wheel Lee Fun camp for ages 8-15, details at

Both? Upcoming events include:


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


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