Bike Lanes Make Cities Safer for Everyone

Evidence is mounting that designing cities with bikes in mind has a profound effect on everyone—not just cyclists

From Outside Magazine
By Joe Lindsey

One of the long-standing arguments against building bike lanes is that cyclists are freeloaders: we enjoy the benefits of road networks without paying gas and vehicle taxes, so if we want our own special lanes, we should be taxed to build them.

This is, of course, exactly backward. The taxes that fund road construction come from a wide variety of sources, including income, sales, and property taxes. If anything, people who ride instead of drive are disproportionately supporting deadbeat car owners. (This is to say nothing of widely available “free” parking.)

Now we may be able to add another counterargument. In the past five months, two new studies have shown that protected bike lanes make cities safer for all residents—not just cyclists and not just with regard to traffic accidents. They’re part of a growing pile of evidence suggesting that bike lanes are more than just a way for people to get around on two wheels. They have profound, sophisticated effects on a city’s safety and social fabric. Done right, bike lanes may be one key to a happier, healthier city for everyone who lives there.

The most recent of those studies, published in May in the Journal of Transport and Health, focuses on a paradox: cycling is a more dangerous mode of travel than driving or transit in many countries. But cities with higher rates of cycling are not only actually safer for cyclists, they also seem to have lower numbers of fatal and severe-injury crashes for all residents. (There’s evidence of the same relationship for cities with high transit—bus and rail—use.)

Wesley Marshall and Nicholas Ferenchak, professors of civil engineering at the University of Colorado at Denver and the University of New Mexico, respectively, dove into a massive amount of data covering 12 large American cities, ranging from Minneapolis (the smallest, with a population of 413,651) to Chicago (2,704,958), to find out why. The data trove included 13 years of fatality and severe-injury records, demographic and commuting data from the Census and the American Community Survey, and extensive GIS mapping of available cycling lanes classified by type, like protected bike lanes versus “sharrows”—those lane markings with an image of a cyclist below two arrows, indicating that cyclists can use a regular traffic lane.

Read the full article here

One thought on “Bike Lanes Make Cities Safer for Everyone

  1. Boulder County residents are always complaining about their property taxes, how did they think the roads get paid for?

    Hint, they’ve been driving for free for the last 25-years+ on those roads and it’s now time to pay for them by rebuilding. Check the muni al bon market, check the interest rates…

    Bike paths cost way less to build and maintain, if there were no cars… Yeah I hear you, how would you get from your massive SF home in the middle of BF nowhere without cars and roads? Easy, you’d have to pay to build them… No one paid in the 50’s the purchase tax on cars and the gas tax might just about maintain a couple of north south routes and some east/west routes originally the pioneer trails.

    Finally, find me a multi level purpose built parking garage that makes enough from fees to pay its maintenance and anything at all off its construction, unless it’s at a mall in BF nowhere, where lands is cheap

    . Its about time car drivers faced up to the smoke and mirrors they’ve been driving on for the last 50-years, we are all paying for it, even cyclists without cars.

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