A lot more research needs to be done in the realm of transportation engineering and creating safer driving environments for everyone. By everyone, we mean drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. Studying the interactions of drivers and bicyclists is a great indication of how shared road space is actually utilized in the urban environment and how it may be improved. Read on to find out our perspectives on inner-city biking lanes.
If you’re a biker you know there are great risks when biking along a shared road with cars. It makes you uneasy and always alert. However, you get in your car and understand the hassles of sharing the road with bicyclists. Transportation engineers are faced with the challenge of creating safe roads for different uses and when many uses are active at one time, it may be a headache to make sure adequate road space is provided for all types of people.
Studies have been done at the University of Texas at Austin on the functionality and usability of roads without marked bike lanes. There seems to be a lot of uncertainty and speculation on exactly how much extra space each person needs. Two and four lane roads where bike paths have been added were studied and each space allotted seem to vary significantly. With the implementation of the Clean Air Act, federal requirements now require increasing bicycle lanes to promote cleaner energy and alternative modes of transportation. Cities such as Houston and San Antonio are now struggling to find efficient and adaptable ways of incorporating more bike lanes into their current transportation system, but it is quite a challenge, since the existing infrastructure is heavily geared towards only automobiles on the road. Moreover, the city inhabitants are not used to driving alongside bikes.
The best approach for adding bike lanes, although this is purely subjective, is by adding five foot wide bike lanes. However, it can only be comfortably added depending on existing roads that have been retrofitted, not narrower ones.
Without marked bike lanes, studies have been shown that cars will veer away from bicyclists much more than necessary and intruding into the next lane, making cars coming dangerously close to one another. This creates a dangerous driving environment due to increased chances of swerving. However, with striped bike lanes, the space is defined and there is not confusion.
Having bike lanes already incorporated on the road also creates a safer environment for pedestrian because bikers will less likely ride on sidewalks where pedestrians are. Keeping all the modes of transportation separate but defined is key to safety according to traffic engineering specialists.
What really encourages safety for everyone is for all cars on the road to have the proper car insurance policies set in case an accident does occur involving bicyclists. The sad truth is, though engineers design road sharing capabilities for cars and bicyclists alike, accidents do happen and it’s more than likely going to be a fatal accident if it involves a moving automobile and a bicyclist, with no helmet. You want as much peace in mind when sharing the road with others and avoid accidents.