TIME Transportation

Study Finds People Feel Safer With ‘Protected Lanes’ for Bikes

A new study finds around 79% of residents feel safer with bicyclists in protected lanes on city streets

The installation of protected lanes in U.S. cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. has resulted in greater peace of mind, not just for cyclists, but for residents in surrounding neighborhoods, too, a new study found.

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities, a transportation research program out of Portland State University, evaluated the use of protected lanes—areas with strict barriers dividing lanes for cars and bikes on city streets—in select neighborhoods in Chicago and D.C., as well as Austin, Portland and San Francisco.

Almost 100% of cyclists and over three quarters of residents surveyed said biker safety increased when bike lanes were protected.

Perceptions of safety for motorists, on the other hand, was less dramatic. Only about 37% of respondents thought driver safety had increased, while 26% thought safety decreased. About 30% said they thought there had been no change.

The study also collected and analyzed 144 hours of video surveillance footage and tallied zero collisions–not even near-collisions. There were approximately six “minor conflicts,” described in the study as sudden slamming of brakes or a change in direction, discovered in that same video footage.

Overall, the study found an increased overall support for the addition of protected bike lanes in areas around U.S. cities, even in urban areas where the primary mode of travel entails four wheels, not two.

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