Source: Intertraffic World/Annual Showcase 2015/Peter Speer, Pexco, USA
Protected bicycle lanes increase the safety of all road users and reduce traffic congestion by encouraging more people to use their bikes.
If you spend time in Chicago, New York or Washington DC, you can’t help but notice the bright green pavements, the flexible white bollards and the increasing number of cyclists riding in newly created, protected bike lanes. By using devices such as bollards, curbs and planters to separate bicycles and automobile traffic, these protected lanes create safer routes for cyclists. A landmark report by the New York Department of City Planning in May 1999 entitled Making Streets Safe for Cycling: Strategies for Improved Bicycle Safety, analyzed theoretical and existing on-street cycling facilities designed to minimize conflicts between cyclists and other road users. One of their key recommendations was to develop techniques to improve conventional lane definition, in conjunction with improved cycle crossings; flexible bollards or other physical separators are recommended for center-median and contraflow bicycle lanes.
Subsequent to this report, New York began to build miles of bike lanes, separated from vehicle traffic lanes, many with flexible bollards, as recommended in the 1999 report. Eventually New York City achieved more than 250 miles of bike lanes and has seen notable improvements in ridership and safety. According to the local DOT, streets with bike lanes see 40% fewer cyclist crashes ending in death or serious injury than those without. When a protected bike lane was installed on Manhattan’s Ninth Avenue, traffic-related injuries to cyclists dropped by 50%. Protected bike lanes can benefit pedestrians as well as cyclists if refuge islands, which shorten the crossing distance of wide avenues for people on foot, are included.