Bike lanes can give you a great sense of protection because they help keep you separate from other vehicles on the road. However, not all bike lanes are equal.
Forbes explains that research shows certain types of bike lanes do a much better job of protecting you than others. Findings showed that protected lanes have more accidents, but that they still offer better protection.
Protected bike lanes are those that put a physical barrier between you and traffic. Unprotected lanes simply use lines on the road to indicate where your lane is and where the lane is for traffic. There is nothing to stop a vehicle from entering your lane accidentally or otherwise.
Type of division
Protected lanes can use a variety of means by which to create the barrier between you and traffic. One of the safest options is a raised bike lane where you are riding higher than the level at which other vehicles drive. Typically, this occurs with a greenway between you and traffic, much like a sidewalk.
Enclosed paths are also safer. They allow for you to ride in an enclosure that keeps you separate from the traffic. They are most often found on bridges that ride over traffic.
Even basic street-level lanes with some type of solid barrier are safer than other types of lanes. The main criterion is that the barrier can prevent a vehicle from entering the bike lane.
It is worth noting that research also shows that protected bike lanes are more common on busy roadways. This may lead to higher accident rates. When looking at how well they protect, though, protected lanes come out on top over unprotected lanes.