As cities across the country install more bike lanes on their streets, many wonder whether these bike lanes really protect bicyclists and reduce accidents. The point of bike lanes is to give cyclists a dedicated space where they can ride safely and coexist with vehicular traffic. However, there are mixed reviews when it comes to the safety of bike lanes.
Crash Data and Bike Lanes
In June, Fast Company teamed up with Smart Design to crunch the numbers on bicycle crashes in three cities, New York, Boston, and San Francisco. They looked at the number of collisions before and after the installation of bike lanes and adjusted to account for an increase in ridership. They analyzed data related to three types of bike lanes:
- Conventional—lanes that are designated with painted white lines
- Protected—lanes that are separated from cars with a physical barrier
- Painted—lanes that are usually painted green and include icons that indicate where bikes and cars share a lane.
The analysis also looked at whether crashes occurred on streets or at intersections. They looked at data beginning in 2012.
The results of the analysis showed that, unsurprisingly, protected bike lanes offered the most protection to cyclists. Conventional lanes, however, offered little protection. Interestingly, San Francisco saw a decrease in collisions after the installation of bike lanes, while New York City saw an increase, especially in painted lanes. Most collisions occurred around intersections.
Bike Lane Design
The study found that there were issues in the design of bike lanes that may contribute to an increase or decrease in collisions. The placement of icons on painted these lanes was different in Boston and New York. New York painted them on the side of the lane where only cyclists could see them, while Boston painted them in the center of the lane. In addition, intersection collisions in Boston fell, probably due in part to the fact that the city used bike boxes to show where cyclists could take turns at a light change.
Are Cyclists Really Safer?
Based on Fast Company’s study, the answer seems to be “it depends.” The study suggests that some design changes to these lanes could make them even safer and that cities have to be consistent in their use. In addition, cities collecting effective data about bike accidents can also lead to them making better safety decisions.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. For over 20 years, Gregg Goldfarb has been helping the victims of bicycle accidents. Contact us online or call us at 305-374-7000 to schedule a free consultation.