Monday, July 9, 2012

Montreal's Separated Bike Lanes vs. Streets

Montreal Bike Lane Lead
"If it was safe, I would ride." This is what you hear from those who are bike-curious and not yet converted to using two-wheels. Both inexperienced and experienced riders can agree that the risk of injury for a cyclist who is sharing the road with motor vehicles is always a concern. One solution to increase the ridership and safety of cyclists is to build and invest in bike infrastructure.

A recent study published in the international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals, Injury Prevention, brings good news to separated bike lanes. The study is entitled Risk of Injury for Bicycling on Cycle Tracks Versus in the Street, and was conducted in Montreal where there is a longstanding network of separated bike lanes. Bicyclist injury rates on separated bike lanes were compared to injury rates on the street. The use of six separated bike lanes and comparable Montreal streets were analyzed, as well as the crash and injury counts to determine the relative risks.

The study concludes that separated bike lanes (physically separated bicycle-exclusive paths along roads) lessen, or at least do not increase, crash and injury rates compared to cycling on the street. They found that the risk of injury for cyclists using Montreal's separated bike lanes was about 28 percent lower than cyclists riding on Montreal roads that are unprotected from traffic. Additionally, overall, 2.5 times as many cyclists used the cycle track streets compared to the reference streets. In the end, these researchers believe that the construction of separated bike lanes should not be discouraged.

The fact that riding in a separated bike lane is safer than not, may seem like a no-brainer to most readers. Nevertheless, it lessens the counter-argument that bike lanes provide a false sense of security. As well, these recent findings can be useful for those advocating for the increase in bike infrastructure, bike safety, bike promotion and bike ridership in their cities.

Read the recently published study here.


  1. I'm all for not debating, and just building as much bike infrastructure as possible. Where do I sign?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.