Posted from Yes Magazine - Jay Walljasper
To get people on bikes in big numbers, cities are finding that it's essential to separate bike lanes from traffic.
This article originally appeared in On The Commons where you can find more great articles by Jay Walljasper on the benefits of biking and walking.
You can see big changes happening across America as communities from Fairbanks, Alaska, to St. Petersburg, Fla., transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just for cars and trucks.
Dutch bike ridership has doubled since the 1980s, when protected bike lanes began to be built in large numbers.
“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users [through] busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians, and, of course, bike lanes,” says David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.”
Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from rushing traffic with concrete curbs, plastic bollards or other means—and sometimes offer additional safety measures such as special traffic lights and painted crossings at intersections.
Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles. Streets work better when everyone has a clearly defined space.
The continuing evolution of bicycling
Protected bike lanes are standard practice in the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips are made on bicycles. That’s because more women, kids, and seniors feel comfortable biking on the streets—along with out-of-shape, inexperienced riders. Dutch bike ridership has doubled since the 1980s, when protected bike lanes began to be built in large numbers.
Chicago aims to catch up with New York and has recently opened 23 miles of protected lanes.