A hot topic in the cycling world is whether to add protected bike lanes to city streets. Many question whether it is worth the money or if people will even use them. Luckily, there’s a good amount of research out there to help settle the debate.
The Benefits of Protected Bike Lanes
- Increased safety – Obvious, I know, but this includes safety for all involved, not only cyclists. Protected bike lanes prevent accidents between bicycles and cars by eliminating the need for traffic weaving. However, protected bike lanes increase walking safety, as well, by making it easier for the pedestrian to know where traffic is coming from.
- Increased number of cyclists – Studies in cities such as New Orleans, New York, and nearby Los Angeles have consistently shown that building protected bike lanes increases the number of cycling commuters. When people feel safe, many choose to bike rather than drive.
- Economic growth – More cyclists mean more money. In heavily populated cities such as New York City, bike lanes have been shown to increase economic output of the street they are on by as much as 49 percent. The most likely cause is that more bikes can be parked in limited spaces than cars.
- Fewer child accidents – Since 1977, the US has eliminated 90 percent of youth biking fatalities. The leading factor in this steep decline is the construction of tens of thousands of off-road bicycle lanes since that time, as backed by data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Many of these lanes are protected bike lanes in cities.
Redesigning mixed traffic streets into ones with a protected bike lane is safer for everyone. Protected bike lanes result in fewer accidents and a greater number of happy cyclists.
Frederick M. Dudek is a San Diego bicycle accident attorney who advocates for victims of cycling accidents, car crashes and other forms of personal injury.