Cycling commissioners in UK call painted bike lanes a waste of money

Painted bike lane in Toronto
CC BY 2.0 Painted bike lane in Toronto/ Lloyd Alter

But alas, nobody seems to listen to cycling commissioners in the UK.

We recently wrote that Proper separated bike lanes are better for everyone. Now three of the UK's leading bike advocates, Olympic champions Chris Boardman (Greater Manchester), Dame Sarah Storey (Sheffield City region) and Will Norman (London), are telling the governments they work for that painted bike lanes are a waste of time and money. Helen Pidd of the Guardian quotes their letter to the national Transport Secretary:

As there are currently no national minimum safety standards for walking and cycling infrastructure, these practices can and will continue wasting public money and failing to persuade people to change their travel habits.

fedex laneLife in the Fedex Lane last week in Toronto/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Chris Boardman in Manchester says more money has to be spent to make roads safer. "It’s tragic that hundreds of millions of pounds of government money has been spent on substandard cycling and walking infrastructure."

Will Norman in London has similar complaints.

Where towns and cities are investing in high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure the benefits are clear – helping tackle our inactivity crisis, helping clean up our toxic air, and making our streets more welcoming places to spend time. But for people truly to reap the benefits across the UK, government policy must not continue to hold us back.

UPS in the bike lane, Davenport RoadUPS in the bike lane, Davenport Road/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

The article refers to a study that the author claims says painted bike lanes make people less safe. We covered this study in our post Painted bike lanes are car magnets, which concluded that painted bike lanes let drivers speed by without having to move out to pass, so they go faster and closer.

Our results demonstrate that a single stripe of white paint does not provide a safe space for people who ride bikes,” [study author] Dr Beck said. “When the cyclist and driver share a lane, the driver is required to perform an overtaking manoeuvre. This is in contrast to roads with a marked bicycle lane, where the driver is not required to overtake. This suggests that there is less of a conscious requirement for drivers to provide additional passing distance.”

Police car in bike lanePolice car in Gerrard Street Bike Lane/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Alas, it seems that even having advocates like Norman and Boardman is not enough to convince people that separated bike lanes are good for everyone. Peter Walker writes about the recent canceling of a bike lan in London's Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and concludes with a line that could apply from Brooklyn to Toronto:

It’s simply not good enough to say you support walking and cycling in theory, but then block every effort to make it actually happen. People are, and will be, judged by their actions. And they should remember that.

Cycling commissioners in UK call painted bike lanes a waste of money
But alas, nobody seems to listen to cycling commissioners in the UK.

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