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Research reveals perceptions, safety and use of protected bike lanes

Posted on June 2, 2014

Research reveals perceptions, safety and use of protected bike lanes

A research study released Monday by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities program offers the most comprehensive evaluation of protected bicycle lanes to date. The study, “Lessons from the Green Lanes,” examines recently installed protected bike lanes in five of the six founding PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project cities and provides the scientific basis for decisions that could improve bicycling in cities across the United States.

Protected bike lanes, sometimes called cycle tracks, are on-street lanes separated from traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts to help organize the street and make riding a bike appealing for people of all ages and abilities. Because protected bike lanes are relatively new to the U.S., little academic research has existed to help leaders evaluate the risks and rewards of the investment in putting the facilities on the ground.

This study provides definitive evidence that people feel safe riding in protected lanes and that people traveling by car or foot also support building more protected lanes to separate bicycles and automobiles. It also provides insight on the safety, use and economic effect of protected lanes.

Researchers visited each of the five participating cities — Austin, Texas; Chicago; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; and Washington, DC — and selected one to two protected bike lanes to study in each city. They set up cameras at two to three locations on each protected lane to gather data including bicycle counts and conflicts. They analyzed 168 hours of video where 16,393 bicyclists and 19,724 turning and merging vehicles were observed.

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Tags: bicycle infrastructure, bicycling, cycle tracks, cycletracks, green lane project, national institute for transportation and communities, nitc, peopleforbikes, protected bike lanes

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