When a city makes big changes to the way traffic flows, locals can often show resistance to the modification, and the overall effects of the changes may not be immediately apparent. Additions to the streets of New York City, such as bike lanes and pedestrian-only areas, may be intended to reduce bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents — but do they really work?
According to a study released by the New York City government, the answer is yes. Several years ago, Manhattan became home to the first protected bike lanes in the country, on Eight and Ninth Avenue. Since the addition of the bike lanes, there has been a decrease of 35 percent and 58 percent, respectively, on these well-traveled avenues, in injuries to motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. In Union Square, which also received a pedestrian plaza and protected bike path, these safety additions have reduced injuries by 26 percent, and reduced speeding by 167 percent.
A bike crash involving a car can be especially dangerous and can result in serious injuries to the cyclist. Both cyclists and motorists are required to follow traffic rules, but on roads where the lanes are narrow, or there is a high volume of traffic — motorist or otherwise — it can be difficult for cars and bikers to share the road safely. In a bicycle-car crash, either party may be liable if they have failed to use reasonable care in using the road, such as by running a stop sign, speeding, or, for cars, drifting into bike lanes.
The study also looked at the commercial impact of the bike lanes and pedestrian plazas, and found that inclusion of these spaces increased retail sales in those areas. Another positive effect of the dedicated bike and pedestrian areas cited by the study is the increase of bicycles on the streets by 177 percent in some areas.
Source: NewYork.cbslocal.com, “City-Sponsored Study Touts Benefits Of Pedestrian Plazas, Bike Lanes,” Oct. 24, 2012