Too often, cyclists are told to simply ride on the edge of the traffic lane or on the shoulder. This puts them very close to traffic, and, while they do have a right to share the road, it can be potentially hazardous. These are not really bike lanes that are designed for bikes, but instead are just portions of the road that they are forced to share with cars.
A better and safer way to approach traffic flow is is by setting up more protected bike lanes. These can prevent accidents, promote green travel, allow cyclists to feel safe and have peace of mind while they ride, and more.
How are the lanes protected?
Bike lanes can be protected in a lot of different ways, but the key is that they have some sort of a stationary barrier. This is a physical barrier, not just a painted line on the road that a car could easily cross. It is a vertical separation that keeps cars out of the bike lane.
Some of the most common examples are posts or bollards which rise up in a line and prevent cars from crossing over into the bike lane. In many cases, these lanes are painted green as well, but this is just a visual aspect to alert drivers. It is the posts themselves that actually keep cars from driving into the lane. Other examples of protective devices include:
- Raised bumps
- Wheel stops
- A line of parked cars
In some cases, the protected bike lane is simply made at a higher elevation than the road around it. If a car begins to drift over toward that lane, the wheels run into this raised section, which helps to prevent the car from crossing and to alert the driver that they are leaving the travel lane.
Why are these lanes necessary?
People often talk about what cyclists need to do to be safer when they ride, but a big problem is that motorists continue to cause accidents. A cyclist can do everything in their power to be safe and still get hit by a negligent driver. This is why protected bike lanes are so helpful. They prevent crashes by addressing the drivers who are the real problem, not the cyclists who are the victims. If you’ve been injured on your bike in an accident with a vehicle, make sure you know how to seek financial compensation.