A protected bike lane is one that separates bike traffic from vehicle traffic. After all, many cycling accidents happen because drivers enter the bike lane or simply refuse to give cyclists a proper amount of space when passing. A protected bike lane forces drivers to do so, reducing the odds of an accident and injuries.
One way to create protected bike lanes is to put floating parking spaces on the outside of the lane, in between cyclists and the travel lane. But this is not an ideal solution. It does work when stationary cars are parked along the road, blocking moving traffic from interfering with the cyclists. But it can still be a problem because A) cyclists could be doored by people who are parking their cars and B) if no one is parked on the side of the road, it is no longer a protected lane.
Other tactics that are in use
To overcome this, cities will often use other vertical barriers to separate traffic. As long as there is a physical barrier in between the two lanes, it keeps riders safe.
One example could be simply extending a curb so that it runs between the two lanes. In some cases, bollards or pylons are used. In other cases, the bike lane is physically higher than the travel next to it, creating a ledge that a car’s tire would strike if it drifted too far to the side of the lane.
It is clear that protected bike lanes keep cyclists much safer, but they are not in use everywhere. Cyclists who have been struck and injured by negligent motorists must be well aware of their options to seek financial compensation for medical bills and other costs.