Those using Lake Hollingsworth Drive will see a newly signed three way stop at Ingraham Avenue and something entirely new in Central Florida – a bike box. A bike box is a green colored area at a signalized or signed intersection that allows bicyclists to pull in front of waiting traffic in order to make a turn. The box is intended to reduce car-bike conflicts, increase cyclist visibility and provide bicyclists with a head start after coming to a stop.
The three way stop on Lake Hollingsworth Drive was installed to assist pedestrians crossing the street at this location. The City of Lakeland has been exploring pedestrian and bicycle safety enhancements for Lake Hollingsworth Drive. A safety committee was put together that included recreational stakeholders as well as members from Florida Southern College, the Lakeland Yacht & Country Club and the City of Lakeland.
Chuck Barmby, City of Lakeland Transportation Planner said, “A number of recommendations made by the safety committee will be put into place around Lake Hollingsworth. They include the installation of new green bike boxes at intersections and colored bicycle lanes at locations where bicycle-automobile conflicts are more likely.”
While the new Lake Hollingsworth bike box at Ingraham Avenue is intended to highlight the presence of bicycles at this new three-way stop intersection, the true benefit of this treatment will be realized on Parkview Place at the signalized Lakeland Hills Boulevard and US 98 intersections.
As part of a resurfacing project that will include the installation of an enhanced pedestrian crossing near the Lakeland Regional Medical Center Emergency Department and the conversion of Parkview Place to a two-lane street with a middle turn lane and bicycle lanes, bike boxes will be installed to position bicyclists ahead of waiting automobiles at both intersections, improving the visibility of cyclists travelling toward Lake Parker or accessing existing bicycle lanes on US 98.
Motorists approaching an intersection with a bike box must come to a complete stop at the white stop bar and not encroach their vehicle into the green bike box. The box typically extends the width of one or more travel lanes and provides room for several bicyclists. Bike boxes are used in conjunction with bike lanes, from which bicyclists pedal directly into the box. The boxes have no intended function when traffic is already in motion at signalized intersections.
Bike boxes work best at intersections with a high volume of bicyclists. They improve cyclists' visibility. They allow a left-turning bicyclist to reach a better position for making a safe turn. They allow bicyclists to reduce exposure to vehicle tailpipe emissions, and are also thought to elevate the "status" of bicyclists relative to motor vehicles.