CHARLOTTE, N.C. (August 15, 2019) – A recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that cyclists are still vulnerable to injury and crashes even when riding in protected bike lanes.
“Protected bike lanes, though they’re separated from the road by physical barriers such as trees or parked cars, can make a cyclist feel safer because they’re separated from flowing traffic, but that sense of security leaves cyclists vulnerable to cars backing out of driveways or alleys on the side away from traffic,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “This new research from IIHS will hopefully serve to remind cyclists and motorists to be cautious and aware.”
According to the study, although cyclists represent only two percent of road fatalities, bicyclist deaths have increased 25 percent since reaching their lowest point in 2010. A total of 777 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2017.
Studies done on regular bike lanes, those that are only separated from traffic by painted lines, have inconclusive results regarding safety.
It also revealed that protected bike lanes prove to be much safer to bicyclists when they are enclosed by a bridge separation or greenway than when they are simply disconnected from a major road, because those on roadways are still susceptible to intersections and hidden driveways.
When IIHS examined the crashes that have occurred in protected bike lanes, it found that most involved minor injuries. Cyclists in protected bike lanes most often were seen colliding with vehicles in intersections and driveways, which are usually traveling at a very slow speed.
The study found that protected bike lanes work in preventing the most serious injuries in the event of a crash, but city planners should still try to integrate these types of lanes in areas with fewer junctions and should consider raised cycle crossings, which improve safety and visibility.