Study: Even Drivers Prefer Protected Bike Lanes

Protected bike lanes are welcomed by drivers as well. Photo: People for Bikes
Protected bike lanes are welcomed by drivers as well. Photo: People for Bikes

When it comes to allocating street space, it is often taken for granted that anything that benefits people on bikes harms people who drive. Such assumptions are contradicted by data showing that cycling infrastructure makes streets safer for all users, and don’t mesh with a new study on motorist preferences.

In the latest issue of “Transportation Research,” a survey of Bay Area drivers and cyclists, conducted by Rebecca Sanders of Toole Design Group, found support for protected bikeways across the board.

Network blogger Tim Kovach reports:

According to Sanders, hers is the first study to ask drivers about their preferences for roadway design when it comes to sharing the road with cyclists.

She and her colleagues sent out a survey to 1,177 people in the San Francisco Bay Area in July 2011, asking respondents to rate their level of comfort on a series of different commercial road designs when driving near cyclists or cycling near near cars going 25-30 miles per hour. The various road designs included no bike infrastructure, sharrows, on-road bike lanes, and separated bike lanes. Sanders then followed up by holding a series of focus groups with respondents to get additional information.

The results of the study were clear. “There are only two roadway designs for bicycling that evenly appeal to all groups, regardless of cycling frequency: the two barrier-separated bicycle lane designs…”

In other words, while drivers and cyclists disagree on almost everything, they can both agree on the value of investing in separated/protected bike lanes. More than 80% of respondents in every user group agreed that separated lanes make cyclists more predictable on the road, which “runs counter to the idea that bicycle lanes only benefit bicyclists.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: Seattle Transit Blog shares a chart showing which stations of the new Ulink light rail expansion will attract the most ridership. And Wash Cycle explains plans to add bike infrastructure along a DC highway.

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