The idea of "vehicular cycling", where cyclists share the road with cars and act like cars, is looking sillier with every new study. A few weeks ago a study showed that a shocking 40% of cycling deaths happened when a cyclist was rear ended, usually on arterial roads. Now a new study, Lessons from the Green Lanes, provides clear evidence that separated bike lanes work really well, not only at saving lives, but in attracting more cyclists, making cyclists feel safer, and increasing economic activity.
Ridership increased up to 171%
The study, by Portland University for the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, looked at five bike lanes in Portland, San Francisco, Austin, Chicago and Washington, and found that within a year of installation, ridership increased between +21% to +171%.
Some of the increase in ridership at each facility likely came from new riders (i.e. riders who, absent the protected bike lane, would have travelled via a different mode or would not have taken the trip) and some from riders diverted from other nearby streets (i.e. riders who were attracted to the route because of the facility, but would have chosen to ride a bicycle for that trip regardless).
Cyclists don't blow through stop lights when they are designed for cyclists.
We keep complaining that signals designed for cars (like four way stops) don't necessarily work for cyclists, and everyone complains back that cyclists are scofflaws who should follow the rules that are the same for everyone. However the research found that at three different bike lanes with signals, 77-93% of cyclists obeyed them and stopped. At the same intersections, 84% to 92% of drivers complied with the rules and did not make turns across the bike lanes, so don't just call cylists scofflaws.
A real separation is better than paint
No surprise here: "Buffers with objects (e.g. flexposts, planters, curbs, or parked cars) had higher comfort levels than buffers created only with paint"
Drivers feel safer when there are bike lanes too
This was a huge issue in Toronto when Rob Ford tore out the Jarvis Street bike lanes to supposedly get people home to dinner two minutes faster. Turns out, many drivers preferred bike lanes because it kept the cyclists separate. It's nice to see research proves this to be true.
It doesn't just feel safer, it is safer.During the entire course of the study, there were no collisions.
It's good for business and property values.
Three times as many people thought that bike lanes increased the desirability of their neighbourhoods as those who thought it decreased it; a large number of cyclists thought they would shop more in the area now that the protected bike lanes were built.
Bike lanes attract new riders
Nearly 2 in 3 residents agreed with the statement “I would be more likely to ride a bicycle if motor vehicles and bicycles were physically separated by a barrier.”.... Agreement was higher for residents in the Interested but Concerned segment. Interested but Concerned residents had the highest perception of improved safety due to the installation of the protected lanes and the highest agreement with the statement, “I support separating bikes from cars.”
Really, it is hard to come to any conclusion other than bike lanes work well, get people out of cars, and make everybody happy except for a few people who complain about the loss of parking, and of course, Rob Ford.
Read the whole study : PDF here.