As someone who is more than peevish when it comes to biking (for good reason — I have crashed my bike into fences and the like just from being a space cadet), my routes generally revolve around empty streets and protected bike lanes. Hence, I am pleased to learn that protected lanes are on the rise not only in my beloved NYC, but that they are popping up all over the country. In smaller cities like Aurora, Illinois, and Athens, Georgia, as well as continued branches in bike-heavy cities like Portland, Oregon, and Denver, Colorado — the trend is continuing everywhere.
Earlier this month, People for Bikes celebrated “ National Protected Bike Lane Week” with the release of an infographic that shows this growing popularity (they’ve doubled every 2 years!), as well as detailing the many benefits. Data shows what all peevish riders like myself instinctively know — protected lanes reduce injury risk by 28%, and also reduce stress for drivers and pedestrians (did I mention I’ve also been hit by a bike as a pedestrian? True story).
The data goes further, though, to show that protected lanes have many benefits to non-bikers as well. For example, did you know that in Indianapolis, the implementation of a bike trail was associated with an increase in building permits in the zip code by 112%?! They also were associated with an increase in biking itself by an average of 75% in the first year of being introduced — reducing traffic and pollution, while creating an atmosphere of community activity. As People for Bikes says, “the best thing about a bike-friendly city isn’t the bikes — it’s the city.”
While a big part of this movement is grassroots-led, the popularity and efficacy of protected bike lanes is making them a focal point for city planners and engineers. Recommendations on how to design and implement them will be making its way into the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ 2018 guide, as well as guides and discussion from other national organizations, including the Federal Highway Administration. All of this means that the growth of protected bike lane networks can only swell from here. Meaning more bikers of all skill-levels can hit the streets in peace (and hopefully avoid running into fences). 😛
Here’s the infographic for more details: