Cities all over the world are making a switch from lines of paint to fully protected bike lanes. Whether separated by a concrete curb, a row of plants, special fencing, or even a row of parked cars, many cities are setting aside designated bike paths so cyclists don’t have to contend with dangerous drivers and pesky pedestrians.
While city cycling isn’t exactly new, it is becoming more popular. Unfortunately, that has resulted in more crashes, injuries, and fatalities. The old-fashioned painted lines intended to separate bikes and traffic haven’t been a guarantee of safety. That’s why cities like Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington have scrapped the paint in favour of protected lanes.
Vancouver is part of that growing trend. Streets like Hornby and Dunsmuir feature a protected bike lane, with more being built and planned around the city. This has created some controversy, but reports show the number of cyclists is increasing – up by as many as 40% between 2008 and 2011.
In Europe, cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam installed protected bike lanes decades ago. The protected lanes have encouraged biking in these cities. Vancouver wants to see the same thing happen here. Building the infrastructure will create an environment and a culture that allows cycling (and cyclists) to thrive and survive.
Research shows that perceived safety concerns are a major barrier for people wanting to bike in their city. They’d love to get out and cycle, but a fear of getting hit by a car is causing them to back pedal that idea. Protected bike lanes address and help ease those fears. And that’s why more cities like Vancouver are building and enhancing their network of protected bike lanes.