Slowing traffic speeds and properly separating cycle lanes result in fewer cyclists hurt on roads

Painted-on cycle lanes in the road had virtually no effect on cyclist injury says Canadian study

by Sarah Barth   February 23, 2013  

Paris Velib rider and cycle lane

A programme of slowing traffic and separating bicycles in their own lanes are effective ways of reducing the number of cyclists being injured on the roads, a study has shown.

Research at the Ryerson University in Canada, the biggest to be undertaken in the country, saw  690 cyclists who were injured in downtown Toronto and Vancouver between May 2008 and November 2009 being interviewed by researchers.

The paper also found that painted-on cycle lanes in the road had virtually no effect on cyclist injury.

"Previous studies have focused on the measures such as helmets that reduce harm after a crash occurs," Anne Harris, lead author of the study, told Science Daily.

"Our research demonstrates that transportation planners really need to segregate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic just as we use sidewalks to separate pedestrians.

"If people see cycling as a safer activity, they would be more encouraged to commute by bike, which makes them more active and healthy citizens."

Of the total number of cyclists, 211 were injured at intersections and 479 injured along roads or paths.

According to Science Daily, here is how the research was carried out:

The researchers gathered two sets of data. First, they asked all of the cyclists to map the route they were injured on, and describe the details of their trip and their injury. Next, an observer visited one or two randomly selected locations along each route to coincide the injury site (if it was at an intersection or not). Specific details about each site were gathered such as the presence and type of bike lanes, grade of the road and traffic volume. Finally, the researchers performed statistical analyses to look at the relationship between route infrastructure and relative safety.

The main findings of the study were that residential streets had the safest intersections, and that car speeds through intersections at less that 30kmph (18.6 mph) reduced cyclist injuries by 50 per cent.

The findings of conditions that made intersections much less safe were more numerous:

• Traffic circles (roundabouts): designed as a traffic calming measure, actually increase the risk of cyclist injuries. In the study, 19 out of 690 accidents occurred in Vancouver intersections with traffic circles

• Roads that slope downhill are more dangerous than uphill roads

• Arriving at the intersection in the opposite direction of vehicular traffic

 

Other general conditions for safer cycling included:

• Separated bike lanes along major streets

• Bike routes with traffic diversion on local streets

• Bike-only paths separated from traffic

 

And those that made cycling along city roads less safe:

• Streetcar tracks

• Downhill grade

• Construction at site

• Shared bike lanes or single bike lanes with parked cars present

8 user comments

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Nice accompanying photo.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
23rd February 2013 - 12:18

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"Slowing traffic speeds and properly separating cycle lanes result in fewer cyclists hurt on roads"

I'd add "Pope is Catholic" to that, but given recent events that might not be the wisest of remarks.

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posted by Doctor Fegg [122 posts]
23rd February 2013 - 16:47

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"Roads that slope downhill are more dangerous than uphill roads" ? Surely a road that slopes uphill slopes downhill in the opposite direction ? Confused

posted by Bristol Bullet [10 posts]
23rd February 2013 - 18:30

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I've been questioning the current approach of paint on road myself. I must have uploaded about 3 or 4 videos to youtube now that demonstrate it doesnt give you the protection you'd need when large vehicles are present, or debris can simply become brushed into it.

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posted by downfader [190 posts]
23rd February 2013 - 20:25

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They needed a study to say keeping cyclists from cars via separated lanes makes cyclists safer? c'mon when will common sense prevail this is so F***** obvious it's not even funny,....... no new road should be built without a separate lane for cyclists full stop, and older roads should be slowly transformed to this where main bike transport routes are needed.

posted by Jasonnz1 [23 posts]
23rd February 2013 - 20:28

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"The paper also found that painted-on cycle lanes in the road had virtually no effect on cyclist injury."

In other breaking news..."TITANIC SINKS"

posted by Some Fella [667 posts]
24th February 2013 - 0:19

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Today's update from the Ministry of the Bleeding Obvious but I hope Boris reads this report. His stupid Barclays supershiteways are little more than corporate bluewash and a smokescreen to suggest his City Hall cronies give more than the vaguest t0ss about cyclists' safety. Take a stroll through Bloomsbury this afternoon and you tell me that segregated bike lanes can't be squeezed into busy London streets. Load of absolute nonsense.

posted by Yennings [183 posts]
25th February 2013 - 14:07

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Jasonnz1 wrote:
They needed a study to say keeping cyclists from cars via separated lanes makes cyclists safer? c'mon when will common sense prevail this is so F***** obvious it's not even funny,.......

Relax!

I suspect that decision-makers need some kind of evidence before the (extra) money can be put into building the infrastructure.

We all know that painting a white line for 150 metres before it stops suddenly is most councils' pathetic idea of cycling infrastructure, as Chris Boardman's recent video (story here) highlighted. No government body will sanction taking space away from cars without justification.

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posted by Simon E [9 posts]
26th February 2013 - 16:49

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