Wednesday, October 8, 2014

News: Bike lanes do not slow down car traffic

Many drivers have the misconception that anything that removes space from their precious roads is an impediment to their forward progress. The loss of lanes to parking is already an affront to their vision of free-slowing traffic, so one can only imagine that the loss of a traffic lane, or even the reduction in the size of a traffic lane, in order to install a bike lane would be a truly serious offense in their eyes. The idea that slow moving traffic would somehow have no impact on the free flow of traffic seems antithetical to traditional logic.

And yet, a recent study of bike lanes in New York City, one of the most traffic snarled metropolises in the US shows precisely that. The installation of bike lanes, particularly those protected bike lanes that completely separate car traffic from bike traffic, have not only not slowed down traffic, but in some cases, have actually improved traffic flow. On top of that, not only has traffic improved, but cyclist injuries, pedestrian injuries, and traffic incidents have decreased in significant numbers.

If in a massively traffic snarled city such as NYC, protected bike lanes are able to have such a tremendous impact, imagine what adding these to other major cities, such as Los Angeles, could do to improve driving conditions and reduce congestion. NYC has the obvious advantage of greater population density, but even adding them to the immediate suburbs surrounding the city of Los Angeles would make a tremendous difference in the near term and combined with greater investment in public transit options, could make dramatic improvements in the long term. Hopefully more studies will continue to reveal that increasing bike traffic in major cities is a great way to ease car congestion and, perhaps, reduce pollution as time goes on.

Link to the full study after the jump.

Click here to read the full study from the New York City government.