New study confirms separated bike lanes are safer for cyclists

The latest kerfuffle over separated bike lanes — here’s my reply to Rob Macdonald’s recent broadside — has focussed on three issues: consultation, business impacts and improved safety for cyclists.

The consultation began with Gregor Robertson’s election platform commitment to improve cycling infrastructure. The study of business impacts continues.

Now a new peer-reviewed study confirms the safety margin provided by separated bike lanes, with accidents reduced overall by as much as 28 percent despite increased numbers of cyclists.

The study, from Montreal, found cycling volumes were 2.5 times larger on one route with no discernible increase in accident rates. In fact, in one comparison the accident rate was almost halved when larger cycling volumes on the bike path were taken into account:

“There were 74 injuries reported during that nine-year time period on Berri St. where there is a bike path, and 27 were reported on St. Denis, where there is none. Relative risk was then analyzed, taking into account the different levels of use by cyclists, and Berri St. was found to be about half (48 per cent) as risky as St. Denis St.”

The study attributes the decline in accident rates to the separated lanes. Safety concerns are, of course, a key factor in depressing the number of cyclists.