SOUTH 2038 Caribou Drive, Suite 101 Fort Collins, CO 80525
OLD TOWN 123 North College Ave., Suite 112 Fort Collins, CO 80524
Let’s Get Rid of All Those Annoying Bike Lanes!
As I build up my training for yet another Ironman race, my plan always includes more time in the saddle. My recent 100-mile bike ride through the beautiful foothills of northern Colorado included city streets, wide open highways, and narrow country roads. Some of the roads I traveled had expansive bike lanes while others had absolutely no bike lane whatsoever. Interestingly, what I’m continuing to notice is that I’m actually safer on roads with no bike lanes. Inevitably, all of my “close calls” where drivers get uncomfortably close when passing seem to occur on roads with wide bike lanes. On the roads lacking a bike lane and where I have no option but to take the lane and merge with traffic, I’m given a much wider berth, typically at least 48 inches. A recent study by Monash University in Australia followed the daily experiences of 60 cyclists. With just this small sample, researchers found 18,527 times where a car overtook a bicycle. In over 1,000 of those times, the distance between the car and the bike was under just 39 inches.
Many cities are moving beyond just having white lines painted on the ground to separate cars and bicycles. One street in Boulder tried putting a physical barrier between the lanes on just four blocks — but it was quickly dismantled due to traffic congestion complaints. Drivers do not seem to want protected bike lanes — but the study found that having bike lanes at all may be the problem. The distance between cars and bikes was greatest on roads where they shared the entire space. Therefore, you might be safer on a road with no bike lane than a road with a painted one. The solution may be to either separate bike lanes with barriers or remove them completely. Removing bike lanes from roads sounds like a risky proposition for cyclists, but my experience indicates it’s actually safer than our current bike lane system. In a perfect world, we could have separated and elevated bike lanes. While the U.S. is moving in this direction, we’ve got a long way to go to get to the extraordinary bike
Ironman New Zealand, 2019
The speed limit in the area usually affected how close cars would get. On medium- speed roads, the average distance between a bicycle and a passing car was 75 inches. But on roads with slower and faster speed limits (under 35 mph and over 60 mph), the distance shortened to an average of 60 inches. Getting this close is dangerous, as even a slow collision with a car can cause serious injury to a cyclist.
track infrastructure Amsterdam has in place to protect its cyclists. Until then, stay focused while driving or cycling, ride defensively, and don’t be afraid to take the lane.
Having no bike lanes might work better for cyclists.
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