How can bicycle lanes become truly safe from cars?

On Behalf of | May 24, 2019 | Firm News

Boulder County residents who bike on their commute or just in their free time know the stress that the bike lane causes. The part of the road that is supposed to be only for bicycles tends to just become another lane for cars–even when there are cyclists using it.

Research on the effectiveness of bike lanes shows that the stress you might feel while riding is well deserved. You should know exactly how risky bike lanes are and what the solution may be.

Drivers do not always respect cyclists

A recent study by Monash University followed the daily experiences of 60 cyclists. With just this small sample, researchers found 18,527 times where a car overtook a bicycle. In over 1,000 of those times, the distance between the car and the bike was under just 39 inches.

The speed limit in the area usually affected how close cars would get. On median-speed roads, the average distance between a bicycle and a passing car was 75 inches. But on roads with slower and faster speed limits (under 35 mph and over 60 mph), the distance shortened to an average of 60 inches. Getting this close is dangerous, as even a slow collision with a car can cause a serious injury for a cyclist.

Having no bike lanes might work better than bad bike lanes

Many cities are moving beyond just having white lines painted on the ground to separate cars and bicycles. One street in Boulder tried putting a physical barrier between the lanes on just four blocks–but it was quickly dismantled due to traffic congestion complaints.

Drivers do not seem to want protected bike lanes–but the study found that having bike lanes at all may be the problem. The distance between cars and bikes was greatest on roads where they shared the entire space. Therefore, you might be safer on a road with no bike lane than a road with a painted one.

The solution may be to either separate bike lanes with barriers or remove bike lanes altogether. If a driver hurts you while you are riding, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.