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Especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more people averse to using public transport, there can’t have been many better times in recent memory to demand segregated bike lanes in your area.
Already, it feels as though the wheels are in motion for a movement towards this. Pop-up bike lanes that have begun sprouting up in places like Berlin, Budapest and Bogotá are a great start as this will hopefully show the world the true demand for these as a permanent fixture.
But just what are bike lanes good for? Are bike lanes safer to cycle on than roads without them? And how can we go about implementing them? Let’s take a look:
Why Are Bike Lanes Important?
- Creates safe space for all riders, regardless of age
- The biggest thing that stops people cycling is the perceived danger of cycling on roads, hence the need for safe space
While you can never truly categorically guarantee safety on the road, bike lanes at least create a safe haven for all riders, regardless of age.
The biggest factor deterring more people from cycling is the perceived danger of riding on roads, which in turn only increases the need and demand for such safe spaces offered by bike lanes.
The #SafeStreetsSaveLives hashtag, which lots of councils are backing, is helping education people further on how to reduce the number road accidents, which roughly leads to 1.2 million deaths worldwide per year. Many of these deaths take place on urban roads, due in part to street design, making them extremely preventable.
Designated bike lanes can only enhance safety in this regard, which in turn can only help in saving lives.
Plus, if people simply feel safer, they’ll feel more inclined to ride. This in turn can reduce pollution (as you’ll see below), help businesses and, of course, have a hugely positive effect on your general fitness and health.
Are Bike Lanes Really Safe?
Of course they are – but just don’t take our word for it, look at the statistics:
- It’s also a myth that they increase congestion on the roads, and consequently pollution. Yes, they may add to the traffic in some cases, but research has shown that this issue has worsened due to increased private hire vehicles from companies such as Uber rather than from bike lanes. A study in Holland concluded that a 12.5 per cent reduction in the number of on-road vehicles would lead to enough of a reduction in nitrogen dioxide to lower mortality rates by 1.012.
- Meanwhile, another study found that those in vehicles inhale 60 per cent more carbon monoxide than those on bikes.
- A study at the University of British Columbia also found that protected bike lanes reduce the risk of injury by a staggering 90 per cent.
- Collisions with cars make up about 35 per cent of cycling-related injuries, and is easily the most common. Bike lanes will inevitably help reduce that figure.
How to Get Bike Lanes in Your Area
There are plenty of ways you can help champion bike lanes, and pressure councils to implement more of them in your area.
Drawing up a petition is a great way to raise awareness of the issue and draw the relevant authorities’ attention to it, but why not also check our your nearby cycling campaigns to see what they’re working on? It can take a long time in some cases, but as mentioned earlier, now is the opportune moment for change, and faster change.
Look at the Netherlands. For years cyclists were marginalised by motorists, as cars on the road grew exponentially during the 1950s and 60s. Bike use fell year on year by roughly six per cent.
But thanks to constant activism, particularly in the 1970s through the ‘Stop de Kindemoord’ (‘stop the child murder’) movement, there are now more bicycles in the country than its 17 million population.
It is also home to more than 22,000 miles of cycle paths, while its capital, Amsterdam, has become a cycling hotbed, so much so that many see it as the ‘go-to’ place to go riding.
Where Are Pop-Up Bike Lanes in the UK?
The map below will show where exactly bike lanes in the UK have ‘popped up’, as well as where new lanes will hopefully be established soon and where planning and council consultation is in progress:
Based in the UK?
If you’re currently living in England, Scotland or Wales one of your best bets for making a difference is Cycling UK. The site has created a superb email template so that you can petition your council for more cycling space, during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown and beyond.
Just fill out your name, email address and postcode, with the option to disclose whether you are a ‘key worker’, and you’ll be able to edit and send a letter to your own area’s representatives in no time at all.