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Bicycle Safety

Survey Finds That Buffered Bike Lanes Are Better


A buffered section of Manhattan's 8th Avenue bike lane.


Bike lanes that separate bicyclists from motor vehicle traffic
are safer and encourage more bicycling, according to a recent survey by Transportation Alternatives. The survey of 147 cyclists was conducted along the 8th Avenue bike lane in Manhattan, one of the few bike paths to integrate both “buffered” and “unbuffered” segments.

Transportation Alternatives found:

    • Buffered bike lanes are are perceived as being safer than conventional lanes.52% of respondents feel safe in buffered lanes, versus only 21% in conventional bike lanes. Conventional bike lanes are more dangerous than buffered lanes -- 44% of respondents find the conventional lanes dangerous or intolerable, versus only 19% of respondents surveyed on buffered lanes.
    • Buffered or not, bike lanes encourage more bicycling.Seven out of ten cyclists use 8th Avenue more often since the lane was installed.

Despite its recent commitment to install more than 200 miles of new bike lanes throughout New York City by 2009, the Dept. of Transportation does not routinely buffer lanes along heavily trafficked roadways. Most of the bike lanes along Manhattan’s 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th Avenues, for example, are not buffered.

On the other hand, bike-friendly European cities routinely stripe buffers and build barriers to separate cyclists from traffic and reduce the amount of street space available to motor vehicles. The City of London has even established a set of detailed Cycling Design Standards to help planners and engineers determine when and where to implement different bike lane designs.

New York City, it seems, could use a similar set of guidelines.

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