Comment 72965

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:32:46 in reply to Comment 72923

I used to feel the same way about bike lanes. Then I spent some time cycling in cities where they had bike lanes everywhere and my entire perception changed. Even though a car would have to cross a bike lane to turn, everything was SO MUCH BETTER because the connected bike lane network translated to a far greater number of cyclists.

While bike lanes may create some danger zones particularly at intersections, the net effect of a proper bike lane network is positive for every road user.

First of all, bike lanes move the most timid cyclists off of sidewalks and onto the roads. This alone is worth the slight increased intersection risks for bike lane users because it removes the HUGE risk currently undertaken by anyone riding on sidewalks.

Secondly, the lanes motivate more people to cycle than otherwise would have, causing increased awareness of cyclists. It has been statistically proven that the best way to improve cyclist safety is to increase the number of cyclists.

Thirdly, the lanes send signals to drivers that bikes have a space on the road and that they must watch for cyclists. This reduces aggression toward cyclists and increases the chances that motorists will look to where cyclists might be before making turns etc.

And finally, the lanes move bikes out of the car travel lanes, so motorists can more easily pass. This can improve flow and reduce frustrations.

The key here is that we can't just plunk a bike lane here and another one there... We can't limit bike lanes to small stretches where we have lots of space, or where we perceive greater danger. The lanes need to be connected to each other - in other words, the bike route map needs to be designed at a high level, to allow cyclists to actually get easily where they need to without being dumped into a car lane without notice. Essentially, we need to design the bike transportation system the way we do for cars.

The safety benefits of a complete bike route system vastly outweigh the micro risks at individual intersections.

ANd in Hamilton, we are really lucky because WE HAVE THE SPACE TO DO IT. The huge road allowances that have created an unlivable core could be converted virtually overnight to a proper through-city bike network with negligible effect on traffic even during rush hour.

Look at King right now - the left lane out of commission at Hess and the right lane is reserved for parking at that spot. Further up the street, the right lane is out of commission for construction. King has essentially been taken down from four lanes into two. And what happens at rush hour? Business as usual for cars. The sky is still hanging in there!

We could put bollards in and create a two way separated bike lane on King from James to Westdale tomorrow and drivers would not have to lose a single minute of travel time.

SO what is the hold up?

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