Will New Bicycle Lanes in Portland Decrease Accidents, Increase Traffic?

September 6, 2014

The city of Portland is currently working on a project that will remove some lanes of vehicle traffic throughout the city in order to construct new bicycle lanes on busy roadways, including on Northwest Everett Street and North Williams Avenue.

While this has been a widely championed effort among citizens who regularly commute on bicycles, the findings of recent studies also seem to suggest that the construction of bicycle lanes on busy roadways will also likely:

  • Facilitate the flow of traffic by potentially decreasing people’s travel time on these roadways by as much as 35 percent
  • Increase the safety of all people who travel on these roadways (including motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians), as bicycle and motor vehicle accidents resulting in injuries could decrease by as much as 50 percent when bicycle lanes are up and running on these highly traveled roadways.

Other Significant Findings Regarding the Benefits of Bicycle Lanes

The development of more bicycle lanes in Portland may end up decreasing the number of motor vehicle accidents and improve the safety of everyone on the road.

The development of more bicycle lanes in Portland may end up decreasing the number of motor vehicle accidents and improve the safety of everyone on the road.

Various studies that have focused on the impacts of bicycle lanes on New York City’s streets have underscored the safety and economic benefits of having these designated bike lanes on such busy thoroughfares.

These credible studies, which have included Measuring the Street (by the NYC DOT in 2012) and Evaluating the Safety Effects of Bicycle Lanes in New York City (published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2011) have reported the following interesting statistics regarding the benefits of constructing bike lanes on busy city streets:

  • In NYC, the construction of bicycle lanes triggered a 56 percent decrease in injuries to all people who traveled on these streets. Specifically, while the people riding bicycles saw a 57 percent decrease in accidents and injuries, pedestrians benefitted from a near 30 percent reduction in accidents and injuries.
  • While the installation of bicycle lanes generally increased the number of cyclists on the roadways, it did NOT result in an increase in bicycle versus car crashes.
  • The presence of bicycle lanes in NYC resulted in substantially less sidewalk riding and less cyclists riding with cars in traffic lanes. Additionally, passenger vehicles on the roads tended to slow down (i.e., not speed), and the overall traffic flow improved.

These findings seem to bring good news and support Portland’s efforts to create new bicycle lanes on busier streets in the city.

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Categories: Blog, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents