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University study evaluates Green Lanes

Published June 2, 2014

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — A new Portland State University  research study released Monday examines recently installed protected bike lanes (also called Green Lanes) in five of the six founding PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project cities.

Protected bike lanes are on-street lanes separated from traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts. According to PeopleForBikes, there is relatively little academic research available to evaluate their effectiveness. 

According to a PeopleForBikes press release, "This study provides definitive evidence that people feel safe riding in protected lanes and that people traveling by car or foot also support building more protected lanes to separate bicycles and automobiles. It also provides insight on the safety, use and economic effect of protected lanes. "

Some of the report's findings:

  • In its first year alone, a protected bike lane increases bike traffic on a street by an average of 72 percent. 
  • 96 percent of people riding in protected bike lanes felt safer on the street because of the lanes. 
  • 76 percent of people living near protected bike lanes support the facilities in additional locations, whether they use them or not. 
  • In 144 hours of video analyzed for safety, studying nearly 12,900 bicycles through the intersections, no collisions or near collisions were observed. 
  • Drivers thought traffic became more predictable after protected lanes were installed. Most drivers said congestion and drive time didn’t change. 

Researchers studies lanes in five locations — Austin, Texas; Chicago; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — and selected one or two protected bike lanes to study in each city. They set up cameras at two or three locations on each protected lane to gather data including bicycle counts and conflicts. They collected 204 hours of video at 15 locations, mostly at intersections.

“The timing is great,” said Martha Roskowski, vice president of local innovation for PeopleForBikes. “The surge of interest in protected bike lanes in cities and towns across the country is being matched by agency work to better understand, refine and standardize the designs. We are delighted to have helped fund this important and rigorous project.” 

More information: PeopleForBikes.

Topics associated with this article: Advocacy/Non-profits

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