AUSTIN (KXAN) – Parents are more willing to let their kids ride a bike on a busy street with a protected bike lane than to let them ride in their own neighborhood, according to a new survey out of Rutgers University. In the survey, parents looked at several types of roads: neighborhood streets with narrow roads, ones with wide roads, park trails, and busy streets with protected bike lanes. The parents placed park trails at the top of their list, but still rated protected bike lanes higher than the others.
Why protected bike lanes?
The United States is considered the most dangerous country in the world to ride a bike, with an estimated 700 deaths and 48,000 deaths a year. U.S. cyclists are twice as likely to die as German ones. To combat this, cities began to look at protected bike lanes as a solution. Bike lanes are supposed to make cyclists safer, increase the number of people biking, and would improve the quality of life for everyone.
Are protected bike lanes safe?
According to research out of Columbia University, protected bike lanes can reduce the number of injuries each year by 25%. Additionally, a joint study between the University of Colorado and the University of New Mexico found that cities with protected bike lanes have 44% fewer deaths than cities without them.
Austin, which has some of the most bike lanes in the country, had a massive decrease in accidents as bike lanes have increased. In 2012, there were 587 accidents related to cycling. By 2017, there were only 44, according to Austin-Travis Country EMS.
Do bike lanes increase ridership?
Despite that, Austin’s ridership has remained flat since 2007. But across the country, biking is on the rise. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of commuters cycling to work in several U.S. cities doubled. This increase coincides with the rise of bike lanes.
How bike lanes help non-cyclists
There are benefits for the rest of us as well. Drivers feel much more comfortable driving near bikes when they have their own lane. In one study, 79-98% of drivers said they would much rather have bike lanes than not.