In cities across the United States, drivers may be noticing a narrow separate lane has been added on the side of the street. These designated bike lanes, sometimes marked by a symbol of a bicycle to denote their purpose, are preventing automobile-bicycle accidents across the nation and saving people money they would have spent on hospital bills and an auto accident injury lawyer.
Many people’s excuses for not making the healthier, more eco-friendly decision to ride a bike instead of a vehicle include issues with safety and not having a smooth, continuous path on which to ride. Many Americans who own bikes simply consider them recreational toys that are meant to be brought to the park to ride around for exercise.
However, the bicycle is slowly reclaiming its place as a viable transportation device. Thanks to the addition of bike lanes in many major cities, more people have been getting to and from work, school and the grocery on two wheels.
Studies have shown that the number of bike accidents decreases as the number of bicyclists on the road increases. The lanes encourage main road bicycling, which has proven to decrease automobile traffic. The greater presence of bicyclists forces those who do choose to drive automobiles to take the lanes seriously and to yield to the more fragile vehicle.
In the Netherlands, for example, the rate of automobile-on-bicycle accidents is about 26 times lower than that of the United States. This is true despite the fact that about 25 percent of their population commutes by bike, while only 1 percent of our population does so. Why? The Netherlands, though a much smaller area, contains over 18,000 miles of segregated bicycle lanes.
The lanes encourage more cycling and less driving, a change that is overall beneficial. More cycling and less driving means less traffic, less pollution, more exercise, more safety and less money one would potentially spend on gas, maintenance and an auto accident injury lawyer.
But some people have taken issue with the lanes. In New York, ironically one of the first U.S. cities to establish enforceable bike lanes, protesters argue that the lanes take away from their rights as motor vehicle operators by forcing them to share the road. Other arguments against the lanes include the fact that they take away precious curbside parking spots, run through loading zones originally designated for delivery trucks and sometimes actually cause more traffic because of the narrowed lanes.
However frustrating the adjustment period might be, studies have shown that equipping cities with bike-friendly roadways severely reduces instances of automobile-on-bicycle accidents and injuries. The protection of people’s lives and physical safety outweighs the minor Inconveniences posed by the lanes.
In the end, most drivers probably would prefer to suck it up and yield to bikers than to have to deal with an auto accident injury lawyer after accidentally knocking a cyclist off of a bicycle-unfriendly roadway.