Everyone agrees that bicycle riding is great for health, great for the pocketbook, and great for the environment. But one thing that can hold back more people from regularly using two-wheeled transportation is concerns about safety while sharing the road with cars.
If you're planning a road, a community of roads, or a business development, getting more people to use bikes can help make things quieter, more enjoyable, and even more profitable. But what can you do to boost bike use? Here are a few ideas.
1. Try a Road Diet
When planning how to design a road, many people automatically assume that the answer to keeping traffic safely moving is to add more lanes. But experts are increasingly discovering that more lanes doesn't prevent traffic or make the road safer. This is where the Road Diet comes into play.
A Road Diet is a roadway configuration wherein you simply reallocate the space used by a four lane road. Instead of two lanes in each direction, drivers get one lane in each direction with a dedicated left turn lane in the middle and bike lanes added to the sides.
Why does this design improve safety? With this configuration fewer cars are crossing paths, changing lanes, and turning in front of each other. It also encourages bicyclists to use the dedicated bike lanes instead of using the driving lanes. Finally, the turn lane allows cars to wait outside the traffic flow without slowing it down.
2. Use Separate Lanes
While much of the attention in the debate about sharing roads has to do with how to be physically near cars and still be safe, there is another way. A possible solution is to simply move the bike path off the road. A separate bike path can generally follow the car route, but physical barriers from cars and trucks make bicyclists safer.
Look for alternate routes by utilizing landscape features that you already have in place, such as existing drainage, greenbelt, or utility easements that can't be used for other purposes. Many of these locations follow regular traffic routes, so they are good bases for a bike lane. Adding a bike path rather than an additional road lane may also encourage bike use both for safety and for the better, quieter trip.
3. Protect Shared Lanes
If you do have to put a bike lane on the roadway, use one of the many methods to physically protect it from nearby car lanes. Any kind of concrete curbing is a good start. Curbing is inexpensive and doesn't take away from the view by nearby houses and businesses. Curbing or ground-level metal railings also prevent both cars from veering into the bike lane and bikes from exiting unexpectedly into traffic.
If a railing isn't to your aesthetics, many municipalities use a series of posts installed between the bike lane and car lanes. You could also use a little of the existing sidewalk space to install a median between the bike lane and the road itself.
4. Educate Users
Car drivers and bike riders alike can all benefit from an increased awareness and safety check. The gold standard for bicycle and road safety is generally Holland, where schoolchildren take mandatory bicycle tests to ensure that they know how to safely ride bikes throughout the country in their daily lives.
While you cannot mandate safety education, you can make it easy, free, and accessible. Encourage families to participate in bicycle education and safety seminars, classes, and even tests.
No matter what bicycle and vehicle traffic challenges your particular roads face, the road experts at Bay Area Contracting Inc. can help solve it. We have experience in planning, striping, surfacing, and renovating roads large and small. Call today to start creating a bike-friendly road on your property.