Max Draitser - Southern California Bicycle Attorneys

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Biking safety: Why barriers matter

You’ve probably been on the road before when a car has come far too close to you. You’re riding your bike where you’re supposed to be: In a bike lane. Despite that, other vehicles just don’t give you enough room.

One solution to this problem is to create bike lane barriers. After studying dozens of cities with protected bike lanes, a study discovered that having those barriers in place did lead to a major decline in fatalities for all of the users who were on the road. 

Researchers with the University of New Mexico and the University of Colorado Denver found that cities that had separated and protected bike lanes had 44% fewer cyclist deaths compared to cities that did not employ those safety measures. 

Initially, researchers believed that just having a greater number of cyclists would cause drivers to slow down. However, the study proved that it was barriers, not the presence of cyclists, that mattered more. For example, in San Francisco, fatal crash rates dropped by 49.3% when bike commuters increased. This happened at the same time that the city added more protected bike lanes in Vision Zero plans. 

This all matters for one reason: It gives you an opportunity to ride where it’s safer. If you have protected or separated bike lanes on your route, use them. They do provide you with better safety than if you use a marked lane or ride in a normal roadway. 

Still, not all crashes will be avoidable. If you are hit by a driver who isn’t paying close attention, then it’s important to look into your legal options.