Here’s another installment of PeopleforBikes’ excellent research-based talking points to support bicycling.
As a rule of thumb, if something’s not going to be comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to ride, then don’t build it.
For decades, U.S. traffic engineers assumed that people on bikes could almost always share the road with cars. But a shoulder — even a striped bike lane — on a street with fast traffic isn’t an appealing place to bike for most people, especially women and less experienced riders. Putting a bike symbol in the middle of a busy thoroughfare does little to make it a place where parents feel comfortable riding with their children.
We now know, based on both U.S. and international experience, what kind of infrastructure designs give people of all ages and abilities the sense of safety, comfort, and enjoyment that makes them want to ride. This includes protected bike lanes, which are located next to the road and physically separated from traffic, as well as things like better lighting, traffic-calming barriers, and well-marked crosswalks.
While sharrows might have a place in small towns or on low-stress streets, protected bike lanes should be the default for roadways with speeds above 25 mph or when vehicular volumes exceed 6,000 average daily traffic (ADT).
Locally, FABB has noticed a potential solution to turn existing standard and buffered bike lanes into protected/separated ones. Many road and sidewalk projects in our region now involve the rapid installation of so-call temporary lane dividers to facilitate construction activities. These dividers basically are flexible and reflective plastic posts that are easily mounted with epoxy or other adhesive to the pavement. A crash program (no pun intended) to install bike lane safety posts would be a rapid and cost-effective means to alert drivers to the presence of bicyclists, prevent vehicles from encroaching on bike lanes, and provide the safest alternative to achieve county goals to reduce traffic-related injuries and reduce congestion and pollution by increasing biking.
Join us and help FABB continue to advocate for better and safer bicycling infrastructure.