Pro-bike group shares results of safety and traffic study on bike lanes

DENVER - New data from a Boulder-based cycling advocacy group's research shows protected bike lanes increase bike traffic and safety but does not impact traffic congestion.

PeopleForBikes launched their Green Lane Project in 2012 to help cities build protected bike lanes. The program selected Denver, Atlanta, Boston, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Seattle to participate in building the lanes this year.

Each city decides how and where to build the lanes, which PeopleForBikes said typically costs $100,000 per mile.

Different from a traditional bike lane, which is designated by a painted line, the protected lanes use a barrier or posts to divide the bike lane from vehicle traffic.

Researchers at Portland State University conducted new research that examined the impact of the protected bike lanes in Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon. Residents and riders were surveyed and video cameras were set up to record traffic in the lanes.

PeopleForBikes, a partner on the project, says the study found that bike traffic increased by an average of 72 percent in the year after the protected lanes were built. Of those using the lanes, 96 percent reported feeling safer because of them.

The organization also says that 76 percent of people living near the lanes supported adding more.

"In 168 hours of video analyzed for safety, studying more than 16,000 people on bikes and nearly 20,000 turning and merging vehicles -- mostly at intersections -- no collisions or near collisions were observed," PeopleForBikes wrote in their summary of key findings.

Lastly, the organization found that most drivers said congestion and drive time through areas with the protected bike lanes did not change but they did think traffic became more predictable.

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