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Bike lanes: Separated or not?

I haven’t been able to ride my bike outside since my crash over two years ago, but I miss it. What I don’t miss is the feeling that I can’t trust the drivers on the road next to me. But here’s the thing, I was on a separated path when my crash happened because a driver didn’t see me in the intersection. And I have to say, I’ve had close calls before and a lot of them have been when I’ve been in bike lanes and separated paths. This isn’t to say that riding in the middle of traffic is the most reassuring and relaxing activity, just that it seems like drivers pay less attention when I’m on a separate path. Edmonton has put a series of separated bike lanes into the downtown core this year and I haven’t got to ride them but many people have been riding and I’m wondering if that makes a difference. While the separated lanes that I’ve been on are underutilized, the downtown ones are getting lots of use. So, do seeing people on the lanes make a difference to how much attention drivers are paying?

Lusk et al (2011) compared separated paths (cycle tracks) to on road cycling in Montreal and found that the rates of both injuries and crashes were less on the separated paths. These paths were all well established.

I appreciate the work the City of Edmonton is doing to promote the downtown lanes, I talked to one of their staff last week as I (sigh) walked to the train station. I hope that promotion and the increased cycling is making these lanes safer. And I hope that the plan gets extended to other areas of Edmonton so that I can one day make it safely to the downtown grid on my bike.

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.

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