Bike Lanes Make Roads Safer for All Road Users

Bike lanes reduce crashes and fatalities for all road users and make the roadway more comfortable for both motor vehicle drivers and people riding bicycles. According to Barbara McCann, the director of Safety, Energy & Environment at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), bicycle lanes “reduces the frequency of crashes. It calms traffic, which makes streets less chaotic and safer for everyone.”

The addition of bicycle lanes on streets has been shown to

        • Reduces frequency of crashes
        • Calm traffic
        • Encourage bicycle riders to stay off the sidewalk
        • Create a barrier between motor traffic and pedestrians
        • Make it clear to all road users which parts of the street are to be used by different users
        • Increase bike ridership
        • Reduce congestion for motorists

Ken McLeod of the League of American Bicyclists points out that

bike lanes of any kind calm traffic by reducing the width of the road, which signals to motorists that they should drive more carefully. Bike lanes also reduce the distance pedestrians are in contact with motor vehicles while crossing the street.

When protected bike lanes were installed on major streets fatalities fell by

38% in Chicago

40% in Denver

50% in San Francisco

60% in Seattle

75% in Portland, OR

A study in New York City found “when either conventional or protected bike lanes are added to NYC streets, risk of crashes and injuries decline by one-third and cyclist volumes increase by 50%.”

A study in San Francisco found that both motor vehicle drivers and bicyclists prefer separated bike lanes.

And a study in Chicago found that on roadways with bicycle rider specific traffic signals, cyclists are more likely to obey the red light than on streets without.

When advocating for better bicycle infrastructure you can use this information and point out that bike lanes are an USDOT Proven Safety Countermeasure. Keep in mind what Dan Burden, the founder of the Walkable and Livable Community Institute, says:

“The reason for bikeways is not just what they do for bicyclists, but what they do for the whole community.”


One Response to “Bike Lanes Make Roads Safer for All Road Users”
  1. Phil says:

    I appreciate that you mention stats from multiple cities, as “This isn’t New York!” or “This isn’t [insert city of choice here]” is such a common refrain for people who oppose protected infrastructure. I hope we can get more protected bike lanes put everywhere, because a stripe of paint isn’t good enough protection.

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