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More cycling overall, fewer on the pavement in US capital

Fear of traffic is often cited as the reason some cyclists ride on the pavement, so if safer cycling facilities are provided, you'd expect fewer riders on the pavement. A study in Washington DC has found that's exactly what happens.

The Washington Post reports a survey by PeopleForBikes,  that found pavement cycling went down 70 percent when a segregated bike lane was installed.

The lane, on 15th Street NW, also saw a 47 percent increase in cycle traffic, lending credence to the 'if you build decent infrastructure they will come' theory proposed by my activists.

The findings, endorsed by cycling and pedestrian advocacy group Alliance for Biking and Walking, also included a 27 percent drop in pavement riding on L Street NW, with 41 percent increase in cycling; and 52 percent fewer cyclists on the pavements of Pennsylvania Avenue, with 47 percent more bikes.

There have been similar decreases in pavement cycling with increases in bike use in Denver and New York after protected lanes were introduced, PeopleForBikes said.

“People bike on sidewalks for two main reasons: because they’re looking for a space that’s physically separated from speeding cars and trucks, or they’re traveling against traffic on a one-way street,” the group said in a statement.

“Well-designed, protected bike lanes, which use posts, curbs or parked cars to divide bike and auto traffic, create a safer solution to both of these needs.

“In project after project, adding a protected bike lane to a street has sharply cut sidewalk biking even as it greatly increased bike traffic.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.