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Wilshire Law Firm » Practice Areas » Bicycle Accident Lawyers » Pros and Cons of Bicycle Lanes

Pros and Cons of Bicycle Lanes

Pros and Cons of Bicycle Lanes

What Bicycle Accident Lawyers Know

Bicycle accident lawyers know that people tend to get into heated disputes when discussing whether bicycles belong on the roads. In most urban areas, the discussion has become like a war between bicycles and cars, with each party claiming that their opinion is truth.

Motorists say that the roads are already tight, that bikes cause accidents, and that bikes have no place in the heart of the city. Many bicyclists oppose this, saying that they are taxpayers, too, and are entitled to the same rights as motorists. Before you decide, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of bicycle lanes.

PRO: Safer Cycling

– Studies show that without appropriately designated bike lanes, people do not know how much road space they need. In wide roads with several lanes, bikes and cars cross paths because drivers and cyclists have the same right of way.

In Europe, studies show that with separate bike lanes, the government reduced accident risks by 50%, even for bikes at a high speed of about 45 miles per hour. This includes bike lanes with barriers-cars cannot get to the cyclists’ lane and vice versa.

Also, the National Cycling Charity cited in a study that bike lanes increase motorists’ awareness of cyclists. People who drive cars also get the idea that the government has the political will to push cycling as a regular means of transportation and that the infrastructure is a sign of the government’s dedication to protecting cyclists.

PRO: Higher Participation

– Studies show that the presence of bike lanes increase the number of bicyclists. Protected bike lanes, those that have barriers and not just lines, add a layer of solid defense. This barrier attracts more non-cyclists to start trying it out.

The studies also indicated that fear for safety is the number one detriment for people who want to ride in the streets. Some scholars studied the effects of protective biking infrastructure on the number of cyclists. They examined five major U.S cities and found out that cycling participation increased by 21% to 171%. Interestingly, the highest growth seen in street ridership is in two-way lanes, which grew by 126% to 171%.

CON: Infrastructure Cost

– In highly progressive cities, the cost may not be an issue. But for developing cities, the cost of bike lanes, even if it is cheaper than road infrastructure, merits discussion and debate. Economic pundits oppose expenditure on bike lane infrastructure, claiming that only a small percentage of the population benefits from it.

The typical cost of building a protected bike lane is less than a $1 million. A road, however, will cost tens of millions of dollars. Only bicyclists can benefit from a bike lane. Pedestrians cannot use them because if they do, they are susceptible to accidents from speeding cyclists.

CON: Driving Conflict

– Opponents of bike lanes claim that without bike lanes, everybody has to follow the same rules. With the same standards, drivers turning right will stay in the right lane, those turning left on the left lane, and those going straight will remain in the middle lane. Bikes will do the same without bike lanes.

With bike lanes, bikes are usually in the right lane. If they want to turn left, they will interfere with the rest of the motorists. If there are no bike lanes, cyclists will follow the same rules and car drivers will understand where they intend to go. With bike lanes, cyclists may get overly confident and ride recklessly, believing that the painted lane can prevent collisions altogether.


True enough, there is no satisfying both camps unless the government builds bike lanes that are carefully planned to work alongside motor vehicles. A common mistake in road planning that bicycle accident lawyers see in their cases is that the bike lanes are only going one way. This impediment puts the cyclists in a tough position when they need to go back. As a result, they cross-over to the motorists’ lane, which can be dangerous and lead to an accident.

Bike lanes are important. They have saved lives in many cities and helped organize road traffic to make roads a safer place. They separate motorized vehicles from cyclists and decrease the risk to cyclists. However, the bike lane will only work if there are physical barriers that will prevent cyclists and motorists from crossing over. Human behavior dictates that people will supposedly disobey rules if they have the physical means to do so. However, if there is no way to break the rules, even the worst offender will have no choice but to comply.

Last Updated: 03-24-2017