Avid cyclists know that riding a bike helps keep you physically fit, reduces stress and provides a variety of cognitive benefits. But for cyclists who must ride in traffic, biking also can be a dangerous way to maintain health.
One answer is dedicated bike lanes, which establish a protective boundary between cyclists and vehicle traffic. Physical barriers that set off bike lanes can include plastic posts, trees and other plants, and even parked cars.
However they’re delineated, bike lanes help keep cyclists safe. One study found that on streets with protected bike lanes, bike riders suffered almost 90 percent fewer injuries. More than 70 percent of Americans have noted interest in riding a bike more frequently but believe the activity is dangerous.
Louisville has made strides in recent years in helping bike riders feel safer with wide bike lanes around downtown. And the bike lanes — and related presence of more cyclists — have provided additional support for downtown businesses.
In addition, the city in 2014 opened the Big Four Bridge, which is available for use only by cyclists and pedestrians. The historic bridge links downtown with Jeffersonville, Indiana, which sits just across the Ohio River.
But despite the improvements, some Louisville cyclists remain frustrated. The bicycle infrastructure budget proposed by the mayor was cut in half, and the city is just starting a bike-share program and protected bike lanes.
Still, Bicycling magazine has given Louisville its highest rating — platinum — in the Bicycling-Friendly Business Score category, and the city improved to number 31 in the 2016 overall rankings of the 50 best cities for biking.
Lanes dedicated to bike traffic have a high cost-benefit ratio, research has found. In addition, the lanes provide multiple benefits, including:
At Meinhart, Smith, & Manning, PLLC, we are proponents of dedicated — and preferably protected — bicycle lanes. In addition to the many advantages listed above, bike lanes also provide two significant benefits to all residents regardless of whether they choose to travel by bike.
The addition of bike lanes stimulates the economy, experts say. In fact, research has found that bike lanes actually may increase sales for businesses they pass by.
Safe bike lanes also tend to lower the number of vehicles on the roads, which lowers emissions and pollution levels. Vehicles produce in excess of 30 percent of the carbon dioxide and 80 percent of carbon monoxide emissions in the United States every year, and short trips — the kind easily made by bike — are the worst offenders.
Bike lanes improve the environment and the local economy, and they provide a safer means of travel for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you need legal representation. For a no-cost review of your case, please contact Meinhart, Smith, & Manning, PLLC.