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A Case for Protected Bike Lanes

As cities transform and adapt to modern, zero-emission transport solutions, creating on-road marked bike lanes may actually be counterproductive, according to a new study conducted by Monash University in Australia. In fact, the largest study of its kind makes a strong case for cities to install physical barriers that offer optimum space and freedom for its bikers.

According to the study, conducted through a custom distance measuring device developed by the team, 1 in every 17 car drivers came within 39” (100cm) of the traveling cyclist, a distance deemed ‘dangerously close’ in Australia. More importantly, the presence of painted lanes earmarked for bikes actually led car drivers to behave more recklessly and come dangerously close to bikers more often, thus increasing chances of a bike injury. In concluding the study, Dr. Ben Beck, lead author of the study reinforced the importance of investment in infrastructure that separates cyclists from motor vehicles by a physical barrier.

What is the Safe Passing Law?

In the United States, the Safe Passing law, adopted as of July 2018 by 32 states, requires the motorist to leave at least 3-feet or more when passing a bicyclist, so as to protect them from being sideswiped. In the last decade, there have been growing calls for an urban redesign that prioritizes cycling as a safer and more sustainable transportation solution.

To this end, cities are now considering measures such as the creation of protected bike lanes, developing infrastructure and fair pricing for on-street parking of bikes, safe intersections, developing leisure routes to avoid accidents, etc. Let’s look at the economic and safety case for this.

Direct Economic Benefits

Many studies conducted over the last decade point to a positive correlation between retail sales and bike-friendly streets in cities. Stores on New York City’s 9th avenue posted a 49% increase in retail sales after the construction of a protected bike lane, as compared to the 3% average across the rest of the city.

Protected bike lanes offer a significant boost to urban property values, reflect a drop in commercial vacancies and cost significantly less, say compared to investment needed in road expansions or subway expansions. Most importantly, businesses in cities that hope to attract millennials and GenX in their workforce support creation of bike-friendly infrastructure, as that holds appeal with the younger resource pool.

Safety Benefits Protected Bike Lanes

Users of protected bike lanes, as well as people living on streets that have such lanes feel they add to the street’s safety. After resounding success in cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco and DC, smaller cities like Atlanta are devoting funds towards biking projects to encourage its residents to choose bikes of over forms of transport. As both pedestrian and biking population soars, cities must also look at their safety regulations to provide for strong and clear biking accident laws.

Make Safety your Priority

As government officials and the law catches up to the changing trends, bikers must also make safety a priority by educating themselves to common causes for bike accidents. Currently, in the state of Georgia, wrongful deaths due to bike accidents account for 1.6-2% of all traffic accidents, a number that’s only likely to grow as more people take up biking.

Most commonly, biking accidents occur when car drivers are not vigilant to maintain a safe distance and follow all traffic rules. Therefore, it is imperative that bikers keep themselves abreast of latest state laws related to biking, avoid busy highways whenever possible, and practice general precaution at all times.

Contact a Protected Bike Lanes

If you’ve recently been in a bike accident or are worried about what to expect in such situations, reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Contact Greathouse Trial Law to be your trusted advisor in all personal injury claims around Greater Atlanta today!

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Riah Greathouse

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