Barrier protected bike lanes mean safer streets

All Chicagoans should feel safe our city's streets—whether driving, walking or riding a bike. No matter if you're an 8-year-old child or 80-year-old grandmother, you should be able to ride a bike in the city without fearing for your safety.

Barrier protected bike lanes are designed with all kinds of people in mind. They make biking a safe and easy option for everyone.  

What are barrier protected bike lanes?

Barrier protected bike lanes use physical barriers to separate people riding bikes and motorized traffic. They are often located next to the curb, rather than between moving traffic and parked cars. By providing people on bikes with their own protected space, the design helps people of all ages feel more comfortable biking on city streets. Statistics show barrier protected bike lanes encourage more people to bike while improving a street’s overall safety for everyone whether they walk, bike or drive. They help reduce conflicts by encouraging predictable and responsible behavior by all street users. As a result, the street become a safer place for everyone.

Some numbers that bear repeating

  • People want safer streets: A Portland, OR study found that 60 percent of the public would be interested in biking, but do not for fear of safety. And a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey found that 71 percent of Americans would like to bicycle more, but fewer than half feel that their community is designed for making biking safe.
  • Barrier protected bike lanes reduce injuries: New York City's barrier protected lane on 9th Avenue led to a 56 percent reduction in injuries to all street users and an 84 percent reduction in sidewalk riding. And a study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2012 found that risk of injury is 89 percent lower biking on barrier protected bike lanes compared to major streets with no bike infrastructure.
  • Barrier protected lanes increase ridership: Following installation of a protected bike lane on Kinzie Street in spring 2011, bicycle ridership on Kinzie increased 55 percent. New York City's Prospect Park West barrier protected bike lane also saw a 190 percent increase in weekday ridership, with 32 percent of people biking under age 12. 

The Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign

Active Trans’ Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign is working for the creation of a 100-mile network of protected bikeways that will reduce crashes and increase ridership while connecting Chicago neighborhoods.

Learn more and join the campaign.

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losing lanes to bikes

Hi. We lost a lane of traffic due to the new bike lanes. It is ok until you get east of Kimbark where there is a stop sign and traffic backs up because there is only one lane. I am all for safety for the bikers, but not if we lose lanes of traffic in the process. Isn't there another way?

Trading car lanes for bike lanes is the exception not the rule

SW - Ultimately, making our city friendlier for biking, walking and taking transit will help reduce the number of drivers competing for very limited space on our streets. Bike lanes add transportation capacity without needing much space. Often a protected lane for bikes can be added without needing to remove a lane for motorized traffic (see Kinzie, Elston and Lake Street) -- so yes, there often is another way. It can also have the added benefit of narrowing the lanes, which encourages drivers to drive at safer speeds within the speed limit. Removing a lane is more of the exception, and the City will only implement a "road diet" like on 55th Street if traffic counts demonstrate there are more car lanes than necessary for current levels of traffic. But the bottom line is that we need to be focused on making our streets safer, and protected bike lanes will reduce crashes for all street users, whether walking, cycling or driving. Driving over the speed limit is a safety risk not worth the time it saves you -- similarly, we believe safer street design that can protect people in our communities from injuries and provide access to a healthy, affordable and convenient form of transportation is worth the few extra seconds it might take traveling down the road. In many cases though, these projects can be a win for everyone, with little impact on travel times.

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