Many roads in and around Seattle already feature bike lanes. These designated sections of road provide a separate space for cyclists, thereby limiting their risk of getting hurt by someone in a motor vehicle. Although Washington traffic laws require that drivers share the road with cyclists, many drivers do not watch for cyclists or prioritize their safety while driving.
Adding bike lanes to an existing road can improve safety, but it can also be a public planning decision that causes some backlash. Expansions may require eminent domain claims against property owners or a reduction in travel lanes for motor vehicles. When areas announced an expansion of existing pipelines, residents often push back and fight against the proposed changes.
However, safety research makes it clear that bike lanes save lives.
How much impact do bike lanes have?
It can be very difficult to gauge how likely a collision is to occur, which is why evaluating the real-world impact of cycling lane expansions can be very difficult to do. Still, experts are quite clear on the fact that more bike lane means fewer cyclist crashes.
Researchers look at countries like Denmark, where helmets are optional but bike lanes are everywhere, as a way to compare current road safety and what could be possible. Experts believe that better bike lanes could reduce domestic cycling crash rates by as much as two-thirds, saving thousands of lives each year.
Better accommodations would also lead to more people biking for transportation, which could also translate to far fewer fatal car crashes annually. An investment in bike lanes when planning or resurfacing roads can benefit everyone.
Cyclists are always at risk on the road
No matter how safe a cyclist is, how much time they dedicate to biking and how brightly colored their gear may be, the bad habits of people in motor vehicles can counteract all of a cyclist’s best efforts at safety.
Cyclists need to ensure that they comply with Washington state law regarding how they ride and signal their upcoming maneuvers on public roads. They may also want to look into expanding their motor vehicle insurance to better protect them in the event of a crash with a driver who flees the scene or who doesn’t have good coverage.
Learning about what protects you from cycling crashes can help you both avoid and better respond to such collisions.