Study: Good cycling infrastructure makes roads safer for everyone

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The authors of a study on road safety in several US cities say they are “surprised and encouraged” by the discovery that protected cycling infrastructure makes roads safer not only for cyclists, but also for motorists.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver and the University of New Mexico found that where local governments spent money on high-quality bike lanes, drivers became more aware of what was happening. passed around them and were also more inclined to reduce their speed.

The result was lower fatality rates for all road users – although they noted that a similar effect was not seen in areas where cycle lanes were simply marked with paint, reports the Independent.

Co-author Wesley Marshall, professor of civil engineering, told the newspaper: “Regular and painted cycle lanes have been found to be insignificant. They can help in terms of cyclist safety but have not been a factor when we are focused on all routes.

“We are both surprised and encouraged by our results. When you think about traveling by different modes, a mile on public transport is about 20 times safer than a mile in a car, and a mile in a car is about 10 times safer than a mile on a bicycle.

“So it stands to reason that a city (or country) with a lot of cycling would be the least safe. However, places with a lot of cycling have turned out to be some of our safest places – and not just for those with a lot of cycling. cyclists. “

The study focused on 12 major cities in the United States, some of which have invested heavily in cycling infrastructure in recent years.

They said that between 1990 and 2010, fatalities in road crashes decreased by 75% in Portland, Oregon, 61% in Seattle, 49% in San Francisco, 40% in Colorado and 38% in Chicago.

Nicholas Ferenchak, co-author of the study, commented: “When we thought it was the old concept of security by numbers, it meant we had to find a way to get more people to cycling to make a city safer.

“It’s not easy. But this research boiled down to city planners: create cycling facilities, and you will see the impact.”

British activists say research should spur local authorities here to invest in high-quality infrastructure.

Simon Munk, of the London Cycling Campaign, told The Independent that research results showed it was “imperative for the mayor to keep his promise and triple the number of separate cycle lanes on main roads.

“Sadiq Khan is on the right track to do so,” he added, “but it is important that the next mayor continues to step up the pace of change.”

Roger Geffen, Cycling UK, said: “Investing in cycling is of great value in reducing traffic congestion, pollution and physical inactivity,” he said.

“The fact that it could also make our roads safer for all is another powerful argument for our government to dramatically increase its investment in providing quality bikes. “

We have already featured research by Professor Marshall on road.cc. In 2015, he explored why some cyclists break the law. His answer ? Due to the predominance of motor vehicles on the roads.

Observing that cyclists who break the highway code tend to be judged more severely than drivers who do, he called on municipal authorities to build more dedicated cycling infrastructure.


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