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Old 03-08-11, 03:48 PM   #1
PaulRivers
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New Study Says Physically Seperated Bike Lanes Safer

I looked through the last week of postings and didn't see a post about this - hope I'm not duplicating another post on the topic.

A recent study was released comparing the injury rate between regular on-street bike paths and "cycletracks", which are generally just like an on-street bike path with a physical barrier between the bike lane and the car part of the street.

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Abstract:
Most individuals prefer bicycling separated from motor traffic. However, cycle tracks (physically separated bicycle-exclusive paths along roads, as found in The Netherlands) are discouraged in the USA by engineering guidance that suggests that facilities such as cycle tracks are more dangerous than the street. The objective of this study conducted in Montreal (with a longstanding network of cycle tracks) was to compare bicyclist injury rates on cycle tracks versus in the street. For six cycle tracks and comparable reference streets, vehicle/bicycle crashes and health record injury counts were obtained and use counts conducted. The relative risk (RR) of injury on cycle tracks, compared with reference streets, was determined. Overall, 2.5 times as many cyclists rode on cycle tracks compared with reference streets and there were 8.5 injuries and 10.5 crashes per million bicycle-kilometres. The RR of injury on cycle tracks was 0.72 (95% CI 0.60 to 0.85) compared with bicycling in reference streets. These data suggest that the injury risk of bicycling on cycle tracks is less than bicycling in streets. The construction of cycle tracks should not be discouraged.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license.
More details are in the article. Personally, I'd welcome and bike more on the street if there was more physical separation.
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Old 03-08-11, 04:40 PM   #2
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I think there is probably something to that. A physical barrier definitely prevents cars from passing too closely. The question is what happens to the bike lane at intersections when cars need to turn right? Do cars cross over the bike lane? Does the bike lane get somehow diverted instead?
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Old 03-08-11, 04:56 PM   #3
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I think there is probably something to that. A physical barrier definitely prevents cars from passing too closely. The question is what happens to the bike lane at intersections when cars need to turn right? Do cars cross over the bike lane? Does the bike lane get somehow diverted instead?
From traveling to some European countries where they have this type of separated bike lanes, they stop the barrier before arriving to intersections, so bikes and vehicles can change into other lanes for turning. The barriers are not constant.

I think these physical barriers are safer. There are so many distracted drivers that get into bike lanes without realizing it (e.g., texting, eating, putting make-up on, shaving, drunk! etc.)
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Old 03-08-11, 04:56 PM   #4
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They had to do a study???
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Old 03-08-11, 05:59 PM   #5
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Old 03-08-11, 06:11 PM   #6
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This should not be even slightly shocking, but you've gotta have the study to justify the funds.
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Old 03-08-11, 06:25 PM   #7
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Safer for whom? Cars maybe... I find the separated bike lanes in Manhattan horrible. They give a false sense of safety. Although not all have physical barriers, just a 3-4 feet strip of painted pavement and a "floating" parking lane, but it's not the moving traffic that is the problem anyway.

Possibility of left or right hooks on every block and no week passes by without someone at work telling me they've run into a pedestrian or a dog on a leash who wandered into the bike lane. The first serious cyclist accident at work was a student who go hooked by a turning car while she was in this bike lane, she had a broken arm, the bike was destroyed. I don't know if the driver stopped or not.

I had my closest call this week when an NYPD towing truck decided to turn suddenly with no warning in front of me, I skidded and stopped few feet short of his side as the truck was passing in front of me.

I had more close calls and altercations with pedestrians (pedestrians, joggers in particular seem to believe they are allowed in those bike lanes) in the last few months since the bike lanes were opened, than in several years of riding with traffic before that. I've also seen several bike-pedestrian incidents that I have never seen before.

There is ZERO enforcement, they've built those lanes and "let them loose into the wild" so to speak without any oversight. Salmons and pedestrians are everywhere. Cars block the lanes every few blocks. And now it's harder to go around obstacles than before since you have a curb on one side and parked cars on the other, there is no way to change the lane and smoothly merge with moving traffic. If there is a car in the bike lane often the only way is to dismount or put your feet down and either take the sidewalk or squeeze between the cars. And one of the top bike lane offenders is NYPD.

Oh, and now people on wheelchairs figured that these bike lanes are somehow meant for them too. It's a freaking mess. Those bike lanes became MUPs and no one is doing anything about that. It's so infuriating: there is a perfectly fine sidewalk right there and morons are walking along the bike lanes and get offended and mad at you when you blow your horn.

It's getting worse now that more people are out riding, jogging and walking. I will be avoiding those bike lanes soon.

To make those lanes safe the physical separation should continue all the way to the intersection and there should be islands forcing the cars to slow down to like 5mph and cross the bike lane at a 90 degree angle. There should also be rails (preferably electrified...) along the curb to prevent pedestrians from walking into the bike lanes mid-block.

Adam

Last edited by AdamDZ; 03-08-11 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 03-08-11, 06:40 PM   #8
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The study is poorly done and biased.

As noted by a well known cycling author:
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At first glance, this study and its findings are fueled by unfounded assumptions.

Right off the bat I have a major problem with it, as they imply that anyone who criticizes cyclepaths must "instead" be a fawning Foresterite neo-maxi-vehicularist:

"Cycle track construction has been hampered in the USA by engineering guidance in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) ‘Guide for the development of bicycle facilities’12 which cautions against building two-way paths along, but physically separated from, a parallel road. AASHTO states that sidewalk bikeways are unsafe and implies the same about shared-use paths parallel to roads, listing numerous safety concerns and permitting their use only in special situations. Cycle tracks, which can be one or two-way and resemble shared-use paths, are not mentioned in the AASHTO bike guide. A long-standing, and yet not rigorously proved, philosophy in the USA has suggested instead that ‘bicyclists fare best when they behave as, and are treated as, operators of vehicles.’13 The details about cycle tracks in the Dutch bicycle design manual CROW3 and crash rate comparisons between the USA and The Netherlands 5 have been dismissed by vehicular cycling proponents,14 with arguments of non-transferability to the American environment. ..."

You see what they did there? First of all, they equate "cycletracks" (sidepaths) with fully separated and intersectionless Class I bike paths. Voila! All the intersection problems with sidepaths are disappeared! In fact they are completely different facilities.

Then, they suggest that anyone who questions cycletracks on safety grounds must "instead" believe in Forester's dogma. And anyone who questions the "transferability" of the Dutch experience to America must be a "vehicular cycling proponent."

And notice how the meanies at AASHTO have discouraged the construction of "two-way paths along, but physically separated from, a parallel road." Eh?? No they have not discouraged construction of physically separated facilities, they have encouraged it. What they have discouraged is the construction of idiot sidepaths which aren't in fact separated, but cross street intersections every block.

Let's move on, and check if we can find any more unscientific weirdness from our esteemed Harvard research team.

Here's some:

"For comparability with exposure data, it was important to exclude individuals injured at intersections who may have been riding on a cross street; however, the EMR database does not indicate which street the injured cyclist was using. Therefore, using the police crash database we determined for each section studied the fraction of bicycle/vehicle crashes involving cyclists who were riding on cross streets, and reduced injury counts by that fraction."

Interesting use of data there. Unless I missed it they didn't explain exactly how they used the police database to determine this fraction (did they look count all the crashes for a given street, or just a sample..if so, which one) or tell us what the fraction was, or give any data. How many of the cyclists injured in the intersections were misclassified as having been riding on the intersecting street, and thus not included in the data?

"MVO [motor vehicle occupant] injury counts are considered a surrogate for traffic danger a bicyclist might face on a given street apart from any treatment."

Okay...

"..., all of the Montreal cycle tracks were two-way with half the bicyclists riding in a direction opposite to that of the closest vehicular traffic,..."

Important assumption there. Probably incorrect. In fact, commuters tend to ride one way predominantly in the morning and the other way in the evening. Likely this would massively skew the results of a study which was based on a 2-hour count.

I do agree with this however:

"This research underscores the need for better bicycle counting and injury surveillance and for additional safety studies, particularly of one-way cycle tracks, intersections, injury severity and other factors that affect cycle track safety."

Amen to that. Not just "additional safety studies" by the way, but much better ones.
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Old 03-08-11, 06:45 PM   #9
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The study is poorly done and biased.

As noted by a well known cycling author:
Bingo.
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Old 03-09-11, 10:35 AM   #10
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With respect to the intersection problem metioned by AdamDZ, the cycletracks I used in Montreal had bike-specific signals at intersections. This improves safety at the expense of increased waiting time for both cyclists and cars. It was somewhat frustrating to have to stop on an uphill when the cars going the same direction had a green light, and indeed, many more confident cyclists violated these signals when traffic conditions allowed.
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Old 03-09-11, 11:28 AM   #11
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They had to do a study???
I'm going to do a study to see if pedestrians are safer from being hit by a car outside or inside their homes.
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Old 03-09-11, 02:10 PM   #12
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I believe this is in A&S.
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Old 03-09-11, 03:14 PM   #13
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One of the variations of my commuting route includes an arterial road with parking lanes separated from the main road by a physical barrier. (Here's a link to a Google Streetview.) Most cyclists will use the parking lane, but I'm not a big fan. There's stop signs every two blocks, and cars are turning in and out, sometimes blocking the path, blind corners...you really gotta be careful at the intersections. I can understand how people feel safer riding in the side path, and the signage encourages cyclists to use the side path, but I like riding fast and uninterrupted, so I stick to the road, and have much less to worry about at the intersections.
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Old 03-09-11, 03:36 PM   #14
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But will it be faster for commuters to be on cycletracks?

I want the option to use the street especially when someone is slow and/or squirrelly on the lanes, riding two abreast, or (gasp) a jogger is running the opposite direction when a sidewalk is available.
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Old 03-09-11, 09:42 PM   #15
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I'd rather take my chances with cars than with pedestrians. The problem is, once the infrastructure is there, I feel obligated to use it.

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Old 03-11-11, 03:08 PM   #16
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I'd rather take my chances with cars than with pedestrians. The problem is, once the infrastructure is there, I feel obligated to use it.
And drivers also feel strongly that you should use it as well. I am glad I left NYC when I did because I wouldn't now want to be in the predicament of having useless bike lanes created for me and no easy way to avoid using them because motorists are going to lose it big time if they see a bike cruising in "their" lane.

H
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Old 03-11-11, 04:22 PM   #17
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Sure it's safer if there is motorist awareness and proper enforcement. If it worked in Paris it can work in most US cities.
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Old 03-11-11, 04:25 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Lot's Knife View Post
I'd rather take my chances with cars than with pedestrians. The problem is, once the infrastructure is there, I feel obligated to use it.]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
And drivers also feel strongly that you should use it as well. I am glad I left NYC when I did because I wouldn't now want to be in the predicament of having useless bike lanes created for me and no easy way to avoid using them because motorists are going to lose it big time if they see a bike cruising in "their" lane.
Exactly.
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Old 03-11-11, 04:27 PM   #19
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Old 03-11-11, 04:38 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by groovestew View Post
One of the variations of my commuting route includes an arterial road with parking lanes separated from the main road by a physical barrier. (Here's a link to a Google Streetview.) Most cyclists will use the parking lane, but I'm not a big fan. There's stop signs every two blocks, and cars are turning in and out, sometimes blocking the path, blind corners...you really gotta be careful at the intersections. I can understand how people feel safer riding in the side path, and the signage encourages cyclists to use the side path, but I like riding fast and uninterrupted, so I stick to the road, and have much less to worry about at the intersections.
Quote:
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But will it be faster for commuters to be on cycletracks?

I want the option to use the street especially when someone is slow and/or squirrelly on the lanes, riding two abreast, or (gasp) a jogger is running the opposite direction when a sidewalk is available.
Quote:
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I'd rather take my chances with cars than with pedestrians. The problem is, once the infrastructure is there, I feel obligated to use it.

Exactly. What they and others have said...
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Old 03-11-11, 06:17 PM   #21
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I think it's sad that this question always pits cyclists against other cyclists. People who choose not to use bike paths shouldn't begrudge other people their own choice in the matter - which is what arguing against building any is ultimately about.
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Old 03-11-11, 06:21 PM   #22
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It's kind of like a conspiracy theory. I think most people "against" SBLs have never really used properly executed ones. And I am not talking about a MUP.
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Old 03-11-11, 06:38 PM   #23
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Old 03-11-11, 07:12 PM   #24
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^^
Now we know where you get your conspiracy theory ideas.


Hey zoltani, why did you delete your post?
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Old 03-11-11, 07:32 PM   #25
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I think it's sad that this question always pits cyclists against other cyclists. People who choose not to use bike paths shouldn't begrudge other people their own choice in the matter - which is what arguing against building any is ultimately about.
In New York, you have to use the bike lane if it exists
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