Max Draitser - Southern California Bicycle Attorneys

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Is a bike lane really safer for riders?

If you like to ride your bike to work or school, you probably use a bike lane. Bike lanes give most cyclists a feeling of security because they’re meant to be used exclusively by people on bikes. They’re specifically designed to provide a dedicated space for cyclists and prevent crashes.

Are bike lanes really safe, though? Not all bike lanes are created equal, and the truth is that many give you no real protection against other vehicles.

There are a few different kinds of bike lanes to consider

To start with, there are different kinds of bike lanes. There are simple, marked lanes. There are lanes that are separated from cars by a small physical buffer, like iron rods. There are also bike lanes that are shared, nicknamed “sharrows” because part of the narrow lane is marked to allow for a rider.

Looking at data, it’s very clear that collisions reduce over time when physical barriers are in place between the road and cyclist’s bike lane. Greater visibility of bike lane marking and specific areas for riders to wait to turn also helped improve safety. Sharrow lanes, on the other hand, saw a marked increase in collisions over time.

What should you do to stay safer when you ride?

If you can, try to opt for bike lanes with a physical barrier in place. Take some time to plan your route, so you can avoid sharing lanes with drivers when possible. In the case that you can vary when you ride, try to choose a time of day that is less busy to have fewer interactions with drivers. All of these steps will help you stay safer on the road. 

If you are involved in a wreck with a negligent driver, find out more about what it takes to get fair compensation for your injuries and financial losses by talking with a qualified attorney.