|Photo by David McLean.|
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has installed a bike box at the intersection of Fremont Ave N and N. 34th St. in Fremont. This photograph is courtesy of David McLean and illustrates the view east down 34th street from the crosswalk on Fremont Ave. The Fremont bridge is 90 degrees to the viewer's right from this vantage point.
SDOT has a page on bike boxes that can be found here: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikeboxes.htm. This new bike box is the latest addition to SDOT's bike box program. The initial round last summer created three bike boxes and now we have four in Seattle. Some European cities have used bike boxes for years and Portland, OR has also applied bike box treatments to some of their intersections.
Bike boxes require some re-learning on the part of bicycle riders and motorists alike. The SDOT bike box page linked above explains how different road users should treat bike boxes. The intention of bike boxes is to help with the visibility of cyclists by other road users by putting them at the front of the queue for a traffic light. Not only do bike boxes help separate left and right-turning traffic from through traffic--they also make bicycle riders more visible to oncoming traffic, which helps reduce the likelihood of oncoming traffic making a left turn into a bicyclist at an intersection (the often injurious or fatal 'left hook').
Keep an eye out for our changing bicycle and roadway infrastructures and don't be surprised if you see more bike boxes or other new facilities types in Seattle. According to one source, Seattle is the only city in the State of Washington to apply bike box treatments to intersections, although that may be changing when we see great successes here with the bike box program.