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Running head: BIKE LANES

Bike Lanes Jacqueline Gelbart Molloy College


This paper discussed factors that contribute to the rise in bicyclists. This paper also focused on the amount of cyclists directly related to the amount of bike lanes. It is concluded that areas with bike lanes have a greater amount of bicyclists than areas that do not have bike lanes separate from car lanes. The negatives, as well as the safety issues of bike lanes are also addressed. Solutions to these problems are highlighted within this paper. Keywords: bike lane, cyclists, New York City, safety


There are many forms of transportation in New York City. For example there is the bus, taxi, personal car, subway, walking, and also bicycling. The use of a bike is commonly seen as a way to go through the city. This is great health wise, but can be dangerous street wise. Due to this, the amount of bike lanes in the city has increased. Cycling as a way of commuting has become increasing popular. Many factors contribute to this rise in popularity, the health benefits of cycling has led government agencies, public health organizations, and medical journals to advocate more cycling as a way to improve individual health as well as reduce air pollutionand other harmful impacts of car use (as cited in Buehler, & Pucher, 2012, p. 410). For these reasons and more, bicycles are commonly used. Cycling is increasingly viewed as normal, gains legitimacy as a means of travel, and generat es more public and political support for more and better cycling facilities (Buehler, & Pucher, 2012, p. 414-416). As further encouragement, bike lanes were created. Bike lanes are lanes that are separate, but next to, car lanes, and are for bikes only. According to Buehler and Pucher, most American cities have focused on providing separate bicycling facilities such as off-street bike paths and on-street bike lanes (2012, p. 410). The addition of bike lanes seems to have increased the usage of bicycles. According to the article, Cycling to work in 90 large American cities, bike commuting in cities with the most bike lanes per 100,000 populationare three to four times higher than in cities with the fewest bike lanes (Buehler, & Pucher, 2012, p. 419). Similarly, another study showed that the supply of bikeways per capita is a statistically significant predictor of bike commuting (as cited in Buehler, & Pucher, 2012, p. 427). These studies have shown that there is greater potential for bicyclists in the areas that include a separate lane for bikes.


Bicycle lanes have both negative and positive connotations to them. One issue related to bike lanes is that not all are solely for bikes. Apparently, most bike paths in American cities are such multi-use paths (as cited in Buehler, & Pucher, 2012, p. 413). There are bike paths comprised both exclusive off-road facilities for cycling as well as multi-use paths intended for joint use by cyclists, pedestrians, joggers, in-line skaters, and other non-motorized users (as cited in Buehler, & Pucher, 2012, p. 413). The need to share paths may cause complications for some cyclists. A solution to this issue has been made in multiple cities. As an answer to this predicament, shared lane markings, also known as sharrows (Brady, Loskorn, Millis, Duthie, & Machemehl, 2011, p. 33) were implemented. Its intended that shared lane markings be used to guide bicyclists to a safe position within the lane, alert motorists to the potential presence of bicyclists, encourage safe passing by motorists, and reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling (Brady et al, 2011, p. 33). Although this idea appears to be helpful, there is a limit to where these sharrows are supposed to be placed. They should be reserved for roadways with a speed limit no greater than 35 miles per hour, placed immediately after an intersection, and spaced no more than 250 feetapart (Brady et al, 2011, p. 33). These restrictions may be problematic for many areas of the city. Studies have been made about the safety of bicycle lanes. The studies reported lower bicycle crash rates on roads with bicycle lanes than on roads without such lanes (Chen, Chen, Srinivasan, McKnight, Ewing, & Roe, 2012, p. 1120). However, despite the less percentage of bicycle-vehicle crashes, according to a study, the percentage of bicycle-pedestrian crashes increased (Chen et al, 2012, p.1123). The amount of people in the area was taken into consideration through the different studies. The article, Evaluating the Safety Effects of Bicycle Lanes in New York City, states, daytime population density had the largest effect oncrashes


(Chen et al, 2012, p. 1123). However, the research concluded that the installation of bicycle lanes does not lead to an increase in crashes despite the likely increase in the number of bicyclists after the addition of such lanes (Chen et al, 2012, p.1124). Despite this, the risks are still high. Unfortunately, bicyclists incur a higher risk of injuries requiring hospitalization than motor vehicle occupants (Impact, 2009, p. 847). It was founded that multi-lane roundabouts can significantly increase risk to bicyclists unless a separated cycle track is included in the design (Impact, 2009, p. 847). Through the same study it was proven that the presence of bicycle facilities (e.g. on-road bike routes, on-road marked bike lanes, and off-road bike paths) was associated with the lowest risk (Impact, 2009, p. 847). These conclusions establish that bicycle lanes do not cause crashes, but that they are actually beneficial for bicyclists. Street intersections seem to be problematic, even with the addition of bicycle lanes. This is primarily because bicycle lanes discontinue at intersections and there are no lane markings at intersections that can guide bicyclists (Chen et al, 2012, p. 1125). The article, Evaluating the Safety Effects of Bicycle Lanes in New York City, made two suggestions that would help the intersection problem. The first suggestion is what was called a bike box. This is an area that would be for bikes only. The bike box is defined by a second stop line painted on the road approximately 10 to 15 feet in front of the stop line for cars (Chen et al, 2012, p. 1125). The other recommendation is additional markings indicating the path of the bicycle lane across the intersection or other intersection treatments be added at intersections to reduce co nflicts (Chen et al, 2012, p. 1125). Either of these suggestions can increase the safety of bicyclists when riding throughout the city. There have also been improvements to bike lanes. The improved lanes are called green lanes. These green lanes did not originate in New York City. Protected bike lanes have been


widely used in Europe for a long time, but only recently have they gained traction in the U.S. (Green, 2013, p. 14). They add physical separation between moving cars and bikes, such as a curb, parked cars or plastic posts, to better protect cyclists (Green, 2013, pg. 14). These protected bike lanes are becoming increasingly popular. According to the article, Green Bike Lanes Double in 2012, a recent report shows that the number of protected green lanes in the U.S. has nearly doubled this yearthe project expects the number to double again (Green, 2013, p. 14). With these advanced green lanes, bicyclists will be able to feel safer on the road. Bike lanes have recently become more common. Drivers should become aware of their surroundings with the increase of these divided lanes. Although there are safety concerns with bicycling in the city, the input of bike lanes seemed to have bettered the situation. With the addition of these lanes, there may be an increase in the amount of people cycling, but they should be able to feel safer when using that form of transportation.

BIKE LANES References

Brady, J., Loskorn, J., Millis, A., Duthie, J., & Machemehl, R. B. (2011). Effects of shared lane markings on bicyclist and motorist behavior. Institute of Transportation Engineers, 81 (8), 33-38. Retrieved from Buehler, R., & Pucher, J. (2012). Cycling to work in 90 large American cities: New evidence on the role of bike paths and lanes. Transportation, 39 (2), 409-432. doi: Chen, L., Chen, C., Srinivasan, R., McKnight, C. E., Ewing, R., & Roe, M. (2012). Evaluating the safety effects of bicycle lanes in New York City. American Journal of Public Health, 102 (6), 1120-1127. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300319 Green bike lanes double in 2012. (2013). Professional Safety, 58 (2), 14. Retrieved from The impact of transportation infrastructure on bicycling injuries and crashes: A review of the literature. (2009). Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source, 847-65. Retrieved from -live