Urban Cycling

Bicycle Lanes Have a Calming Effect on Traffic – Study

Bicycle lane study

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A new study has found that bicycle lanes, especially those with physical or visual barriers, can have a calming effect on traffic.

According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), crashes involving motor vehicles are a leading cause of death in the United States among individuals younger than 55 years old.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported in 2022 that bicycle lanes could reduce crashes on local roads by between 30% and 49%.

Given these statistics, a study published on ScienceDirect investigated the impact of a temporary bicycle lane on enhancing safety.

The study, “The Traffic Calming Effect of Delineated Bicycle Lanes,” conducted by Hannah Younes and colleagues, delved into how bicycle lanes, especially those with physical barriers, influence motor vehicle speeds at intersections.

Using computer vision techniques to analyze the speed and trajectory of over 9,000 cars at a signalized intersection in Asbury Park, New Jersey, the research aimed to quantify the impact of temporary bike lanes on traffic flow and safety.

Bike lanes used in study

Bicycle Lanes Reduce Vehicle Speeds

The findings indicate a significant reduction in vehicle speeds in the presence of marked bike lanes, suggesting these lanes benefit cyclists and enhance overall road safety by calming traffic.

The research highlights the potential of temporary, or “pop-up,” bike lanes as a low-cost, flexible solution for improving cyclist safety and encouraging active travel. These lanes gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate outdoor activity while maintaining social distancing.

The researchers implemented a temporary bike lane using orange cones, traffic delineators, and temporary chalk paint to separate cyclists from motor traffic.

This setup allowed for a comparative analysis of vehicle speeds before and after the lane’s implementation.

The results showed a 28% reduction in average maximum speeds and a 21% decrease in average speeds for vehicles turning right when the delineated bike lane was present.

Vehicles traveling straight experienced an 8% speed reduction. Interestingly, painted-only bike lanes also led to a modest speed reduction, but exclusively for right-turning vehicles.

These findings highlight the additional benefits of bicycle lanes in urban traffic systems. By calming traffic, bicycle lanes protect cyclists and reduce the risk and severity of crashes for all road users, including pedestrians.

ALSO READ: A Spanish Town Built A Beautiful Bicycle Lane…Then They Ruined It

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