Everyone Wants Protected Bike Lanes

Protected Bike Lanes

Why Both Cars and Bicyclists Want Their Space


In the battle for the roads, bicyclists and motorists rarely see eye to eye. For cyclists, the logic is plain: the more separation on the streets between cyclists and motorists, the less likely the two are to collide. A fairly simple equation, and one that is understandably widely supported in the bike community (since collisions between a cyclist and a car have a clear favorite).

However, this logic is often criticized for ignoring the opinions of other modes of transportation, namely motorists, who feel that dedicating valuable road space to bicyclists will only increase traffic and congestion.

But, based on a new study from the Toole Design Group, it turns out that motorists actually have similar desires to bicyclists when it comes to building safe roads. Study results show that both cyclists and motorists are in favor of a greater degree of separation between cars and bikes on roads.

The study surveyed 265 people with varying degrees of transportation preferences: drivers who do not bike, drivers who do bike, and cyclists who do not drive, and asked them to rank their preference of road designs:

Seperated bike lanes

The various road designs survey respondents were asked to rank

Both drivers and cyclists felt safest with some sort of barrier-protected bike lane on roads (see images A and B above). Particularly interesting, motorists felt that cyclists were more predictable, and therefore safer, if they were given their own lanes, and that bike lanes serve as a cue for drivers to expect cyclists along the road.

But the key finding of the study: both drivers and cyclists reported being more comfortable on the roads with more separation between each other. Given the sometimes combative positions that both cyclists and motorists take when it comes to the division of road space, it may not surprise you that the two do not want to be near one another. But, the title of the study, “We can all get along: The alignment of driver and bicyclist roadway design preferences in the San Francisco Bay Area,” suggests a far more positive approach.

While the reality for cyclists in America remains that cars are given priority, a more constructive approach may be to work in harmony with motorists to design facilities that are acceptable to both.

Protected Bike Lanes


Thus, in the on-going debate for space on America’s streets, a point of agreement (especially one based in science), is highly welcomed.