The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has called for a redesign of urban bike lanes to accommodate a range of micromobility alternatives.
NACTO’s new study titled “Designing for Small Things With Wheels” provides strategies to adjust bike infrastructure to accommodate variations in sizes and speeds of vehicles such as e-bikes, e-scooters, and cargo bikes. The paper suggests that current infrastructure designs have traditionally favoured confident riders (typically adult men), leaving other potential users (including children, seniors, women, people with disabilities, and those transporting goods) out of the equation. The study states that bike lanes are the safest and most comfortable place for people using a wide array of, often electrified, small things with wheels, as they are vulnerable to car traffic.
The adaptation of bike infrastructure would require extra width to accommodate larger vehicles and allow comfortable passing, as well as the creation of dedicated space at intersections. According to the paper, wider-protected bike lanes are especially important to protect children and caregivers, side-by-side riders, people using adaptive devices, and people moving goods from close passing.
The study also suggests that providing smooth surfaces for devices with small wheels and using obvious signs and markings are helpful to clarify that newly popular device types – like e-bikes and e-scooters – are welcome.
“When bikeways are designed for all ages, abilities, and micromobility options, people on bikes and scooters will prefer to ride in the well-designed bikeways instead of competing for space on a sidewalk,” the paper states.
The study provides suggestions that would make bike lanes more inclusive of all potential riders and suggests that this, in turn, will allow cities to reduce congestion and improve air quality while increasing access to jobs, services, and opportunities.