Greater Greater Washington

"Floating" transit stops work well with bicycles

Ever played a game of leapfrog with a bus while riding your bike? Some cities are using "floating" transit stops so buses don't have to pull into the bike lane to discharge passengers. Could one work here?


A floating light rail stop in San Francisco.

Since buses (and sometimes streetcars) discharge passengers onto the sidewalk on the right side of the street, bicyclists often face conflicts with transit vehicles or transit riders. That's one of the primary reasons the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack was put in the middle of the street, rather than as a pair of curb-side bike lanes.

These "floating" transit stops make it possible for cyclists to stay next to the curb, while still allowing transit vehicles to stop without blocking the bike lane. As the video shows, cyclists and transit riders share the space easily.

With DC's growing network of bike lanes and cycletracks, conflicts with transit stops are going to grow. Floating stops like this could be a solution to the problem.

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Planning Department. His views are his own and do not represent the opinion of his employer. 

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Proven concept. Start building DC. No experiments needed.

by Jasper on Jun 13, 2014 1:20 pm • linkreport

Well light rail stops are fewer and farther between and have more people. This might get pretty intense for buses.

by BTA on Jun 13, 2014 1:23 pm • linkreport

Correct me if I'm wrong, the new M Street cycle track has one in the West End. At the corner of M and 24th. I hope to see even more in the future.

by mstarr on Jun 13, 2014 1:38 pm • linkreport

Yes, there is one on 24th. I wasn't very happy to have the circulator stop moved but I think it works.

Would be useful for in front of valet parking for hotels.

by charlie on Jun 13, 2014 1:48 pm • linkreport

The floating stop appears to be ADA accessible - but this isn't a high-curb stop. If the stop is to be 10" for level-boarding to a streetcar, the stop could be less accessible to people with disabilities - especially those ambulatory people who have difficulty with steps. An accessible path of travel from the floating stop to the curb would have to be clearly marked and channelized.

by Steve Yaffe on Jun 13, 2014 1:59 pm • linkreport

But it only works where there is a curbside bike lane.

There are so many places I ride around here w/ no bike lane or a bike land outside the parked cars (e.g. 11thSt NW). Yes, great for where there are curbside bike lanes. Can we get more of those?

by Tina on Jun 13, 2014 2:08 pm • linkreport

See the dude sitting on the ground? No public seating at a floating stop = people dangling their feet in the bike lane. Build more humane seating.

by Matt C on Jun 13, 2014 2:49 pm • linkreport

I see a dude sitting on a bench on the sidewalk, and no dangling of feet in the bike lane.

by spookiness on Jun 13, 2014 4:46 pm • linkreport

The Church and Duboce bottleneck is notorious in SF. Never thought I'd say this, but ever since I started riding Muni I actually miss the Red Line.

by DC in SF on Jun 13, 2014 5:01 pm • linkreport

This may work well as part of a K street redesign.

by Sam on Jun 13, 2014 9:41 pm • linkreport

Seattle has some that aren't with curbside bike lines (Dexter Ave N). They work very well, though curbside would be better. The bike flow is nice, but I think the gain in bus speed is even more valuable. The buses don't have to pull over, so they are able to pickup and discharge riders more quickly than if they had to pull over and then work back into traffic.

by Eric on Jun 13, 2014 11:05 pm • linkreport

The video makes it look as if this one is a typical door zone bike lane, and then in the block with the transit stop the bike lane shifts to the curb and the platform takes the space of the parked cars.

by JimT on Jun 13, 2014 11:32 pm • linkreport

relevant study completed for MW-COG in 2011, particularly the "passenger loading" content:

http://www.mwcog.org/transportation/activities/tlc/program/bikeped.asp#ArlBike

by Lucas on Jun 14, 2014 10:41 am • linkreport

There is a floating stop at 24th & M, but the design is very timid, forcing bus passengers and cyclists to basically share a narrow 8 foot space. A better design would have not require the bus to pull over but instead stop in the travel lane. This would allow for about 16 feet for the bus stop and cycle track, plenty if room for both. It would also improve bus performance by eliminating the need to pull back into traffic after stopping. Hopefully, we can continue to improve both biking and public transit in DC through better designs like this.

by Jacob on Jun 14, 2014 12:53 pm • linkreport

I was in SF a few months ago and they had a couple of these stops around our hotel (near the Mission). I'm not sure if it is a more or less effective than curbside, but on the plus side, it made the transit stops more visible than most curbside stops in DC.

On the downside, the design still requires pedestrians to cross over the bike lane to get to the sidewalk. Some people, as the video clearly shows, will believe that the onus is on the pedestrian to find gaps in bicycle traffic and get out of the way of oncoming bicyclists. However, most pedestrians aren't looking when they cross the lane, so most likely the responsibility will be on the bicyclist to make sure to slow down when there are a lot of people getting onto or off at a bus stop.

by Scoot on Jun 16, 2014 10:58 am • linkreport

The solution, of course, is to have more center-running transit in dedicated lanes. Not that DC will ever muster up the willpower to provide ACTUAL good transit.

by LowHeadways on Jun 16, 2014 1:17 pm • linkreport

Seems great for the cyclist, but not so great for the pedestrian who has to sit there and wait for cyclists to mow him down before he can cross... Still, I'd suggest doing it, even if it'd be a pain in the ass to me.

by Matt S on Jun 17, 2014 8:59 am • linkreport

Matt S

Doesn't sound like you've spent much time crossing the steet in Fairfax County. Where most drivers seem to not to realize what 'yield to pedestrians in crosswalks' actually means.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 17, 2014 9:07 am • linkreport

They don't have to wait to be mowed down, they can just jump in front of a cyclist and speed the process along. Be the captain of their own destiny. Carpe Diem. YOLO. Nanu Nanu.

by David C on Jun 17, 2014 9:48 am • linkreport

Maybe I'm just riding in the wrong places but I've always found it incredibly easy to avoid pedestrians when I'm on my bike and vice-versa.

So much so that it's puzzling to me when people complain about being almost hit by bikes. I find it hard to even put myself in that situation.

by drumz on Jun 17, 2014 9:59 am • linkreport

I'd love to see some of these on eastbound Clarendon Blvd. between Courthouse and Rosslyn. Several ART and Metrobus lines converge at Courthouse - I'm constantly getting stuck behind a 38B. Oddly, I rarely have a problem westbound on Wilson Blvd.

by John Flack on Jun 20, 2014 8:41 am • linkreport

I'm wondering about the safety implications and wayfinding challenges for transit riders who are blind (and can't see a gap in the oncoming flow of cyclists).

by Beth H on Jun 20, 2014 2:06 pm • linkreport

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