Seattle protected bikeway. Image by Gordon Werner licensed under Creative Commons.

A version of this article was first published on June 14, 2014. We're rerunning it with some updates for you to enjoy.

As more cities build more protected bike lanes, some are beginning to use them as opportunities for public art. In Seattle, the new Broadway protected bikeway includes a section with “art bollards.”

Most protected bikeways around the US use flexposts or concrete curbs to separate the bike lane from car traffic. A few use other methods like parking stops or zebras, but there are better-looking options available.

In addition to Seattle’s art bollards, a growing number of cities use landscaped barriers.

Vancouver protected bikeway. Image licensed under Creative Commons.

A protected bike lane with landscaping in Ballston, Virginia. Image by BeyondDC licensed under Creative Commons.

Portland has been experimenting with graphics on the ground. One bike lane there incorporates the city flag. Elsewhere, colorful graphics designed by school children decorate lanes.

Image by City of Portland.

Image by City of Portland.

These are great ideas. As networks of protected bike lanes continue to expand, cities around the country can look for opportunities to make their bike lanes more beautiful.

But that being said, beautification adds time and expense to construction, and most cyclists would likely rank having more usable protected bikeways sooner as a higher priority than art or landscaping.

So art is great, but there’s definitely a place for easy, cheap flexposts.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and an adjunct professor at George Washington University. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado and lives in Trinidad, DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post. Dan blogs to express personal views, and does not take part in GGWash's political endorsement decisions.