Bike lanes are very popular these days as cities struggle to deal with traffic congestion. Bikes take up much less room than automobiles, and biking promotes healthy lifestyles for sedentary urbanites while reducing the amount of tailpipe emissions in the air. But bicycles and cars are a lethal mix. Drivers often fail to see people on bicycles or refuse to share the road with them. Differences in speed between bikes and cars create a danger and in any contest between rider and driver, the rider is guaranteed to be the loser.
Only a protected bike lane can protect riders from injury. Painting white lines on city streets and calling it a bike lane just doesn’t work. Riders need a physical barrier between them and the cars and trucks around them, one that motorized vehicles can’t cross. The most workable solution requires installing a physical barrier between bicycles and motorized traffic. Often that physical barrier includes parked cars that help keep traffic even further away from those riding bikes.
New York City built 18 miles of protected bike lanes in 2016. Last year, 25 more miles were added. “Twenty years ago, the city took a big step forward with its first plan to build a bike lane network, and cycling is now growing by orders of magnitude, faster than any other mode of transportation in the city,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg tells Curbed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has plans for 50 miles of protected bike lanes in his city, but up until this point, most of those in Manhattan have gone uptown and downtown only. There were none going crosstown. That is about to change. After 23 bicyclists were killed in NYC last year, the city is now planning to construct two protected bike lane routes connecting the East Side with the West Side. The first will go eastbound on 26th street and westbound on 29th. Later this year, an eastbound route on 52nd Street and a westbound route on 55th will be added. Each route will cost the city about $500,000 to engineer and construct.
Soon other cities will be following New York’s example and promoting in-city cycling by adding protected bike lanes to their urban transportation infrastructure.
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