ORLANDO, Fla. – Red bars near intersections have started popping up in Orlando, as part of a test program meant to boost bicyclists' safety.
The bars are being placed at stop lights, enabling bicyclists to lean on them without dismounting from their bicycles.
Two bike bars, as they are called, have been set up at the intersection of Mills Avenue and Princeton Street, which is part of the Orlando Urban Trail.
The bike bars were installed around the same time as crews removed bike lane markings along Curry Ford Road, a path that was put in as part of a four week trial test. Several business owners complained to News 6 about how bad traffic had become during the test project.
Each bike bar costs $431 and was paid for by the city through gas-tax dollars.
City leaders are looking into whether the bike bars increase safety by giving bicyclists a safer place to wait at the light, instead of directly in traffic. Officials said they got the idea after seeing bike bars popping up in other cities.
"We’ve seen the biker bar used in other cities to give bicyclists a place to balance while waiting at an intersection without needing to dismount, and wanted test it out at an appropriate intersection within the city where wait times are longer than normal, such as at the intersection of Mills and Princeton," a city spokesperson said. "Most importantly, it also serves to potentially increase safety and compliance with the pedestrian crossing signal if there’s a more convenient place for cyclists to wait."
More than 2,000 bicyclists weave through the city of Orlando's bike trails every month, according to city data.
News 6 traffic safety expert Steve Montiero worries the bike bars could lead to more confusion.
"I think this would almost contribute to issues for bicyclists because now they are worrying about something else that you really weren't ever taught about," he said. "You look at this device and the first question I had was, 'What is that?'"