City of Tempe tests ‘Bike Box’

The City of Tempe installed a bike box on the east side of 10th Street at Mill Ave.  Note that in that google street view, there is already a bike box on the west side of the same intersection, installed by ASU according to the news item (apparently ASU and not the City of Tempe has jurisdiction over that piece of 10th street?).Bike boxes are currently experimental (Update — see Interim Approval, below), and as such requires permission from the feds. Details for Request 9(09)-81.  FHWA Ruling: Request to experiment approved on 3/9/2016. (does that mean ASU installed them w/o permission? Or were they able to piggyback on Tempe’s request? The May 2016 street view shows the west side bike box at that time).

News Item: City of Tempe tests ‘bike box’ to make streets safer for riders. Hey, they got Julian’s name wrong, it’s Dresang, not Dressing.

Here’s some engineering info from the FHWA / MUTCD guidance. Note that a Full-time turn on red prohibition is required

I’m not sure is see one on the existing westside bb, so I’ll be interested to check next time I’m in the area.

Not a fan

The SLM (Shared Lane Marking / “Sharrow”) that exist on the west side appear to be well-placed — they are in the middle of the lane. This (by looking at google street view history) apparently replaced a cramped travel lane + BL. This branch of the road more-or-less dead ends into campus. I don’t like what they (apparently, ASU, according to the article) did with some dashed lines approaching the bike box, implying cyclists should or must move to the extreme right. Weird.

I dropped by the area on 10/1/2016 and stopped to take the pic, below.

This road is a low-speed, collector (i guess) road, two lanes, very sedate. I have no idea what the test/experiment could be expected to show.

Can you spot the No Turn on Red sign?

The idea of bike boxes is to aid cyclists at intersections where a left would otherwise be difficult. So a bike box encourages cyclists intending to turn left to scoot ahead on the far right and then at the last moment swerve sharply left. Of course that only works if the light is red; and the cyclist has to somehow know that the light will remain red while they move into position.

Anyway, they (as does any bike lane) unfortunately exacerbate right-hooks, which is apparently why Right-turn-on-reds is required to be prohibited. Officially speaking, NACTO in their design guide says they “Helps prevent ‘right-hook’ conflicts with turning vehicles at the start of the green indication“. My emphasis added, they don’t help with right-hooks once traffic is rolling.

No Turn on Red is one of a handful of traffic violations that drivers of vehicles commit on a routine basis. When I stopped by in light Saturday morning traffic, right on cue, a driver rolled past the stop bar and continued to make the prohibited turn on red.

More about bike boxes from John Allen.; and more at

I encourage everyone to just follow the rules of the road — when turning left, merge left beforehand… this road is only two lanes (one in each direction). no big deal.

Interim Approval… and Where to Stop on Red

Coincidentally, a few weeks after Tempe installed the bike box, Bike Boxes received Interim Approval status (and thus are no longer experimental) from the FHWA on October 12, 2016, IA-18.
As explained on the Interim Approvals page authorities wishing to use something with IA status must still submit a written request prior to installation:

Any jurisdiction that wishes to use a device or application that has received Interim Approval must submit a written request to the FHWA, Director of the Office of Transportation Operations. The request must indicate whether blanket jurisdiction-wide approval is being requested or must state the location(s) where the device will be used, and must include the jurisdiction’s agreement to comply with items B, C, and D in paragraph 18 of Section 1A.10 of the 2009 MUTCD…

There is a list of all cities or jurisdictions that have active IA requests here. At the moment, it’s not yet updated for IA-18.

Something I’ve always wondered about, is in AZ, for the purposes of a redlight-running violation, stop lines are immaterial. In other words, a motorist who rolls past the “Stop Line” on a red isn’t in violation of the red-light statute. Full details here. How does this (does this?) affect Bike Boxes?

The IA didn’t really specifically state why/how the experiments were a success, or how that squares with evidence from a couple of years ago from Portland: City Finds Bike Boxes May Actually Increase Crashes … “What appears to be leading to the new crashes in that people are biking through the intersection faster, overtaking cars that are turning right”

2 thoughts on “City of Tempe tests ‘Bike Box’”

  1. semi-related; here’s some video of a bicycle signal at 12th St and Campbell in Phoenix that was installed in Aug 2016; if a bicycle is detected during a red phase, the cyclist then gets an advanced green (not sure exactly why, it sounds like it’s some sort of test). Anyway, at 1:01 the pickup driver runs the red when the bicycle signal changes to green.

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