Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Protected cycleways

Rachel Smith has posted an excellent article on the Crikey blog on 'Why Women Wont Cycle'. It is said that an excellent barometer of the safety of a cycling network or route is the percentage of women cycling on it. I have posted previously on this and agree with Rachel 100%.

Separated cycleways can greatly improve safety along routes. But, if the intersections are not done well they can significantly increase risks to cyclists. I posted previously that international research has shown that the most dangerous place for a cyclist is on the footpath because of conflicts with driveways and side streets. If a separated bikeway does not adequately address these risks it can actually decrease safety. This Wikipedia article provides an excellent scan of some of the research on the safety and risks of separated cycle facilities. What is clear is that unless the intersections and driveways are well done, a separated bikeway can increase risks to cyclists significantly.

But making the intersections safe can sometimes reduce their utility for cyclists. Take this Sydney example. The separated bi-directional bike path below has a potential conflict with right turning traffic. To prevent this, cyclists using the pathway are stopped at the light, even when right turns for cars are given the red light. Cyclists can only proceed once they activate the sensor in the tarmac and then they are given a green phase of their own. So they have to stop at the lights every time. For cyclists travelling with traffic this can be very frustrating and I did notice several cyclists in traffic instead of in the separated cycleway.

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