The introduction of bike lanes certainly makes riding safer for cyclists. While they can absolutely ride on the shoulder or even in the road when these lanes aren’t available, the odds of an accident do increase. Just because cyclists know how to ride properly does not stop drivers around them from making crucial mistakes.
However, even bike lanes are far from perfect. They often leave cyclists very close to the traffic anyway, and many drivers will inadvertently — or intentionally — use them as if they are driving lanes. In some cases, they’ll turn right through a bike lane without ever checking to see if a cyclist is there.
Fortunately, there are ways to make these lanes even safer, and cities should consider them if they actually prioritize reducing serious accidents.
Making the lanes wider
First off, there’s an argument to be made for wider bike lanes. This would be helpful because it would give drivers more room for error and it could give cyclists more time to react. It would also make the lanes a bit more obvious, which could help drivers have an increased awareness of the lanes’ existence. Finally, a wider bike lane may just make cyclists feel more comfortable and relaxed while they ride.
Adding buffer zones
Even better than making wider lanes, though, is the addition of buffer zones. These are zones in which cyclists and cars should not travel for an extended period of time. The increased space keeps bikes even further separated from cars, mirroring the type of safety offered to pedestrians by sidewalks. Furthermore, the buffer zones could extend on both sides to give cyclists greater protection from parked cars, where dooring accidents are common. A little extra space could allow an errant door to be opened toward the street with lower chances of striking a cyclist as they ride by.
Accidents continue to happen
The push to get cities to adopt safety measures like these is spurred by the fact that accidents continue to leave cyclists with major injuries, year after year. Those who do get injured must know about all of the legal options they have to seek compensation.