New study shows protected bike lanes increase ridership, desirability of neighborhood

Increases in observed ridership within one year of protected bike lanes' construction ranged from 21% to 171%. 

June 05, 2014

Recently, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) released their findings on protected bikes lanes in the US, a subject that has only been explored in a limited number of studies.
 
Their study looked at protected bikes lanes in Austin, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. All five cities were part of the Green Lane Project, which works with cities around the country to speed the creation of protected bike lanes and is sponsored by People for Bikes. NITC asked six questions:
 
1. Do the facilities attract more cyclists? 
2. How well do the design features of the facilities work? In particular, do both the users of the 
protected bicycle facility and adjacent travel lanes understand the design intents of the 
facility, especially unique or experimental treatments at intersections? 
3. Do the protected lanes improve users’ perceptions of safety? 
4. What are the perceptions of nearby residents? 
5. How attractive are the protected lanes to different groups of people? 
6. Is the installation of the lanes associated with measureable increases in economic activity? 
 
You can download the full study here. Here are the findings we found interesting:
 
 
Changes in Ridership
  • Increases in observed ridership within one year of protected bike lanes' construction ranged from +21% to +171% 
  • Increases appeared to be greater than overall increases in bicycle commuting in each city 
  • Increases were made up of 11% new riders, or riders who would not have traveled by bike without the protected lane, and 89% riders who took the route because of the new lane, but would have biked anyway
 
Perceived Safety for Users
  • 96% of interviewed cyclists felt that the protected lane increased the safety of bicycling on the street 
  • 79% of residents interviewed felt that the protected lane increased the safety of bicycling on the street 
 
Neighborhood Desirability and Economic Activity
  • 43% of people stated that protected bike lanes had made their neighborhoods a more desirable place to live, as opposed to 14% who believed it actually reduced desirability
  • 19% of intercepted bicyclists said that they stopped at businesses along the protected bike lane more often than before its installation
 
Perceptions of People Driving on the Street
  • 53% of drivers in communities where protected bike lanes were installed stated that predictability of bicyclists had increased, as opposed to 12% who said it had decreased
  • 14% of respondents said that they avoided roads with protected bike lanes installed 
  • 30-55% of residents stated that impacts to parking were negative; impact to parking was the study's most negative perception
         
 

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