A new study found that separate bicycle lanes are safer than lanes along city streets and an increase in designated bike lanes could reduce congestion and encourage more women to ride, Bloomberg News reports.
We frequently report on the high risk of bicycle accidents in Chicago and the city’s ongoing efforts to improve safety. Recently, we reported on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog that Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel made a campaign point of giving the city 100 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of his first term in office.Our Chicago personal injury lawyers frequently represent cyclists who are seriously injured or killed in accidents with automobiles. Too often, drivers either fail to show cyclists the respect they need and deserve to stay alive, or are simply careless when it comes to watching for riders on the road.
The new report by the Harvard School of Public Health found that separate bike lanes resulted in a 28 percent lower injury rate than driving in lanes shared by motorists. The issue is not really a no-brainer. Most crashes occur at intersections — having separate bike lanes does not eliminate the risk as even those frequently intersect with city streets.
“Of course, intersections do have to be well-designed, ideally with red and green bicycle signals,” Anne Lusk, the study’s lead author. “And even then, we’re not suggesting that cycle tracks have zero risk. But rigorous research does show that the difference in the accident rate is real.”
The report also found that seniors, women and children are frequently afraid of riding on shared bike lanes. This helps explain why men account for the vast majority of fatal bicycle accidents. As we reported recently on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, male victims account for more than 80 percent of all riders who suffer serious or fatal injuries.
Many countries outside the United States have invested heavily in separate bike lanes. The Netherlands is half the size of South Carolina and yet has 18,000 miles of separate cycling tracks. About 55 percent of Dutch cyclists are women. In the United States, less than 1 percent of commuters use a bicycle; about one-fourth of the Dutch do so.