- Published: Sunday, 13 July 2014 08:24
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(Originally published in the 15th Tour of the Fireflies Newsletter 2013)
I will ride if there is a bike lane.”
When people find out that I‘m a bicyclist, I often hear them saying something like this: “Bicycling is really good; it does not pollute, it promotes health, it can retard the effects of climate change, it is quiet, etc. I would take up cycling (or cycle more) if only it were less dangerous and there were bike lanes.”
|Mon Fernan says,"Bike lanes, particularly those that are segregated from the road, give a false sense of security to their users. People who ride only on bike lanes pay little attention to proper riding technique and depend on the bike lane to convey them to their destination in safety."|
Update July 4, 2014: For other points of view regarding the pros and cons of bicycle lanes, please click on this link.
Many “sustainable transport” advocates have taken this sentiment at face value to argue that putting in bike lanes is the way to get more people on bicycles and create a “green world.” It is difficult to scientifically verify this assertion. Bike lane advocates point to Amsterdamas proof that bike lanes equates to more cyclists. Yet, it is not clear at all that that is the case. Historically, Amsterdamand many other places in Europehave long encouraged bicycle use and so it is difficult to say whether it was the sheer number of cyclists and the supportive bicycle culture that caused the creation of bike lanes or whether bike lanes per se encouraged more people to ride. What can be done objectively is to examine the effect of bike lanes on the behavior of people on the road.
Bicycle lane advocacy is supposed to encourage non-cyclists to ride bikes even without proper training. A separated bike lane or path is supposed to minimize the risk of being hit by passing traffic (from the rear). Transportation authorities like bike lanes because they inherently believe that the roads are for motorized vehicles and that bicycles should get out of the way of cars, something that inexperienced bicyclists may also harbor. Many think that traffic road rules do not apply to bicyclists. Nothing could be further from the truth: the rules of the road are there so that vehicles can travel safely while sharing the road, and a bicycle on the road is a vehicle.
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