Most cities take a timid approach to building new protected bike lanes. Instead of building out a comprehensive and well-connected network, they go after segments of streets where the introduction of the bike lane will not take a lane of moving traffic or parking away from those driving cars. As it turns out, new research shows that this is a bad approach. More from Streetsblog USA:
Here’s one reason the modern biking boom is great for everyone: more bicycle trips mean fewer car trips, which can mean less congestion for people in cars and buses. But there’s a catch. A recent study shows that when bicycle use rises but cities don’t add bike lanes to put the new bikers in, traffic congestion actually gets worse. In some situations, it gets a lot worse.
If a city doesn’t build bike lanes, then “bikes vs. cars” is actually real. But if a city builds bike lanes, more biking becomes a win-win. Public support for bike infrastructure and programming depends on one crucial concept: that more biking benefits people whether or not they ever ride a bike themselves. Lewis, the Atlanta transportation deputy director, said that’s one big reason it’s important to add bike lanes to busy streets when possible.