The introduction of protected bike lanes in many cities usually raises objections from motorists who believe that devoting an entire road lane to cyclists will restrict the flow of cars and add to congestion in cities. However, a study of New York's streets, which has been ongoing since the first protected bicycle lanes opened in 2007, has recently shown that the opposite is actually true: by separating different types of traffic, cars can actually get around faster.
That's before we even begin to discuss the safety benefits of protected bike lanes, with the study showing the risk of injury to cyclists, drivers and pedestrians all falling on streets where the protected lanes were installed.
Read on after the break for more results of the study
The study shows that, even while the number of cyclists has dramatically increased, the total number of injuries to cyclists on the roads studied dropped very slightly between 2001 and 2013, representing a 65% drop in the risk posed by cycling. The total drop in injuries to all methods of transportation dropped by 20%.
This is all while the time taken to drive along these roads dropped. For example, the time taken to drive along Columbus Avenue fell by 35%. On First Avenue, the average speed of taxis increased on sections with bike lanes installed, even while it decreased on sections that did not.
Speaking to FastCo, director of bicycle and pedestrian programs for the New York City Department of Transportation Josh Benson attributed the increased traffic speed to the design of the junctions, where turning cars have a 'pocket' to get out of the flow of traffic and wait in: "Having that left turning area, where you're able to get out of the flow, you can see the cyclist, the cyclist can see the turning vehicle, you can pause and not feel the pressure from behind to make a quick movement. That's a major major safety feature of these type of bike lanes. But it also helps the flow."
In addition to these results, the report also found that the streets with protected cycle lanes also had better growth in retail sales than streets without the lanes. This empirical demonstration that Bike lanes are good for more than just cyclists is important in convincing people to install more, says Sean Quinn, co-director of the DOT's Pedestrian Projects Group: "We're not going to just say this is a bike facility, and it's going to help one mode of traffic--we're going to say it has the potential to help everyone in the neighborhood where we're placing the facility."
Story via Fastco Exist