Cyclists remain vulnerable to injury even in separated bike lanes

August 29, 2019, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

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Separating cyclists from motor vehicle traffic is becoming an important movement in Canada. They make cyclists feel safer and encourage more people to ride bikes and commute to work on their bikes. However, a new IIHS study has shown that protected bike lanes provide various levels of protection to cyclists from injury.

The study looked at the efficacy of the lanes, which are separated from the car traffic usually with a physical barrier like a parking lane, curb, posts or landscaping, in protecting cyclists from being struck by drivers. What they found was that there has been little research done to date on how well these lanes work. The IIHS also found that the results of safety studies on conventional (unseparated) bike lanes are inconsistent as well.

We know that bicycles represent about 2% of road fatalities but the percentage is increasing steadily.
The new study conducted through George Washington University in Oregon looked at risks associated with different types of cycling infrastructure.

They interviewed injury cyclists who visited emergency rooms after either falling or crashing. They collected information on the locations of the crashes and then compared the characteristics of that site with randomly picked sites along the route the cyclist took in order to understand what it was about the crash site that may have caused the accident.
They concluded that the risk of a fall or crash was much lower on two-way protected bike lanes on bridge or raised from the roadways or in greenways than on separated bike lanes that ran on street level of major roads. According to the IIHS:

"A cyclist on a protected lane at street level is likely to encounter vehicles at intersections, driveways and alleys more often than on a protected lane enclosed within a bridge or greenway," says Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research and the lead author of the new paper. "Pedestrians also sometimes enter street-level bike lanes, which can cause cyclists to swerve and fall."

The IIHS has determined that the most serious accidents and fatalities involving motor vehicles occur midblock, and in separated bike lanes they occur most frequently at intersections or junctions with driveways where the vehicles are moving slowly and turning.

Separated bike lanes at street level pose serious risks for cyclists at all intersections with roadways, alleys and driveways. These intersections pose a significant hazard for drivers especially when two way bike lanes are involved as they must be vigilant for bikes approaching from two directions.
The IIHS studies concluded that street level bike lanes should be placed where there are the fewest number of junctions possible, or to consider raised cycling crossings, and to prevent pedestrians from entering cycling lanes.

 

 

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Bicycle Accidents

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