Have you ever been driving down a road and totally blind-sided by a biker? Or have you been that biker who feels unsafe peddling down certain streets? A new research study released this week by Portland Statue University is hoping to prevent either scenario from happening.
The study examines new protected bike lanes installed by PeopleforBikes and the Green Lane Project throughout each of five chosen locations: Austin, Chicago, Portland, OR, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. These bike lanes (often painted bright green!) are separated from the regular traffic by curbs, parked cars, posts, or planters in efforts to organize the street and make it safer for all. These protected bike lanes are new to the US, so little research has been done on their effectiveness. Until now.
The study targeted one or two lanes in each city and set up video surveillance primarily at intersections to evaluate their effectiveness and overall usage. They also surveyed bicyclists, drivers, and nearby residents to get personal and practical feedback on their implementation and affect on the community.
What did they find? Here are some of the staggering stats:
- A protected bike lane increased bike traffic by about 72% in the first year alone! (See how biking to work can boost your happiness!)
- 95% of bikers in the protected lanes felt safer on the street with the new barriers
- No collisions or near collisions were observed in over 168 hours of video (that’s zero accidents even after over 16,000 bikes and 20,000 cars appeared on the footage!)
- Drivers thought traffic became more predictable after protected lanes were installed. No increase in congestion or drive time was reported
The interest in improving and encouraging more eco-friendly commuting such as biking to work and on errands is increasing exponentially around the country. And with pilot projects in these five cities going so well, there is already plans for a second installment of protected bike lanes in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle.
“The timing is great,” said Martha Roskowski, vice president of local innovation for People for Bikes. “The surge of interest in protected bike lanes in cities and towns across the country is being matched by agency work to better understand, refine, and standardize the designs. We are delighted to have helped fund this important and rigorous project.”
PeopleforBikes is a nonprofit movement to unite millions of people to improve bicycling in America. The Green Lane Project is a program within the organization to help build better bike lanes and create low-stress streets. Research was funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, a program in Portland State University’s research and education center. Their goal is to provide insight to help communities make safe, healthy and sustainable transportation choices.