Last month Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 819, a bill intended to encourage more communities to implement modern protected bike facilities. The current system actively discourages cities from implementing protected bike lanes and other cycling innovations commonly used in Europe because they are not legally covered by Caltrans’s outdated bike lane standards. The new bill is a step forward since it streamlines a process by which cities and municipalities can apply to implement more innovative designs.
And now the bill is getting support from a Canadian study which compares the various different environments in which people ride their bikes. In many ways, their findings reflect common sense. For example, they found that streets with bike lanes are safer than streets without bike lanes. Not to sound rude but, duh. The suprising news is in the numbers. A bike lane (even the most basic and flawed as many in California are) will reduce the risk of injury to cyclists by 50% as compared to a similar street without a bike lane. And the same style street with a protected bike lane (meaning barriers between cars and cyclists) drop risk of injury 90%. Those statistics are astoudning. Numbers like these are hard to argue with.
Imagine, if cities invested in protected bike lanes, it is likely that injuries to cyclists would drop approximately 90%. That means more cyclists on the road and we have posted numerous articles about what more cyclists means for cities; safer streets, better public transportation, less traffic and congestion, more tourism, and the list goes on.
Basically, the Canadian study put numbers to something that San Francisco cyclists have known all along. You have to invest in safety. It may be a lot up front, but the returns are astronomical.