A Bike Lane, by definition is a portion of the road that has been specially designated by striping, signage and pavement markings, exclusively marking out a pathway for cyclists. They are predominantly used to enable bicyclists to ride at their preferred speed without having any interference from traffic conditions, while facilitating predictable behaviour and movements between cyclists and motorist. It’s usually distinguished from a cycle track with no physical barrier such as bollards or raised curbs that restrict usual motorized traffic. Usually, Bike Lanes run along the curb side with no parking present, adjacent to parked cars on the right-hand side of the street. They run typically in the same direction of traffic. The making of bike lanes always require a through consideration and evaluation of existing traffic levels and behaviours in those specific areas as it’s vital that there are safety measures in place to protect riders from parked and moving vehicles.
Bike Lanes are constantly in the news and causing controversy for various reasons. Below are some of the reasoning behind these arguments. We do believe that in the United Kingdom need to do better in regard to cycle lanes, and we do not want to push our opinion on anyone else. This blog is simply to just highlight some reasoning behind issues that have arisen through them.
- Cycle lanes increase congestion. This is a very common argument when it comes to people being against cycle lanes, coming from the assumption that taking road space from vehicles automatically mean more traffic jams, meaning more pollution for the areas surrounding. A theory against this is that building more road space doesn’t mean less traffic and more cars, more road space reverses the number of cars. This is especially the case with bike lanes as they are such an efficient use of the same space. Yes, some studies have shown that traffic jams worsen in some areas where bike lanes have been built, however this is predominately down to other factors, for example the increase demand of uber-type vehicles and amazon delivery fans which are becoming increasing popular every year. It’s also common knowledge that motor vehicles cause the congestion in the first place, meaning the only real way to reduce this traffic is to have fewer motor vehicles on the road which bike lanes promote.
- They are very often left unused. Online there are various condemning articles against bike lanes that show empty routes with ‘proof’ that in fact these lanes are not being used. Apart from these being a timed picture, other factors need to come play such as timing, business of that specific area. Around the world you can find evidence where well thought out cycling lane routes are used frequently. For example, Denmark boasts over 12,000km of cycle routes, along with dedicated cycling bridges in cities such as the Copenhagen, which are used on a huge scale daily.
- They are a hazard. A surprising yet common argument against bike lanes is that they are a danger to pedestrians/motor vehicles. This is mostly untrue. Of course, some elements of the design might seem new to the average person, especially the “floating” bus stops where passengers must cross a cycle lane to reach a stop. However, when these bike lanes are deigned well, there is no evidence that they cause danger. It’s also important to mention the hazards that motor vehicles can cause. On average each year in the UK between zero and two pedestrians unfortunately pass away due to being hit by a bike, in equivalence to the 400 that die after being hit by motor vehicles, including more that 60 that are struck while on the pavement.
- They are too expensive. This point often gets made with the enduring myth that cyclists “don’t pay for the roads’. Chris Boardman, the cycling campaigner for Greater Manchester mentioned that his plans to remake the region would cost £1.5bn and would deliver 1,800 miles of safer cycling. Even though this seems pricey, its vital to note that amount of money that goes into improving roads in the UK. Cycling also vastly saves money for those that take it up rather than paying the ever-increasing price of petrol, along with the parking costs in a lot of major cities.
The argument of Bike Lanes is of course extremely biased, and the answer is never plain and clear. We do believe in the UK we have a long way to go to make these more efficient and useful for the country like the Neverlands and Amsterdam. However, it is vital opportunity to get more people cycling, helping everyone with the price of owning a motor vehicle, and to help the environment. We also want to point out that safety should always be at the forefront of any rider’s mind. Always remember that there could be people who are unaware of how dangerous the roads are for cyclists and could be guilty of parking in cycle lanes/pavements.
Please feel free to email us with your opinions on cycle lanes in the UK and around the world!