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Protected bike lanes don't just help cyclists. They keep drivers safe too, a new study shows

Posted at 3:26 PM, Jul 23, 2019

DENVER — While riding on two wheels, bicyclist Mike Stejskal has one goal: safety.

The long-time bike rider knows how sketchy sharing the streets with cars can be.

“The traffic volume is too high and it's stressful interacting with all the cars.,” Stejskal said while riding. "There’s way more chill routes."

So before going out for a spin, Stejskal maps out at all the routes that will get him to where he’s going in the least amount of danger.

“To me, I don’t understand why we would pick as the same place to send cyclists down as buses,” he said.

Now, a new study is answering those kinds of questions and showing what researchers claim are the safest travel relationships for bicyclists and drivers.

“Interestingly, cities with a ton of people biking turned out to be some of our safest cities,” said Wes Marshall, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver.

Marshall and his team took 13 years of research from a dozen major cities across the country and discovered that protected and separated bike lanes reduce the most fatalities — for both cyclists and drivers.

“That was one of the biggest factors,” he said. “Cities with the highest level of that type of infrastructure were killing 44 percent fewer people each and every year.”

The cities included in Marshall's research were Oklahoma City, Memphis, Kansas City, Mo., Dallas, Houston, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Portland.

According to the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 783 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2017 — a number Stejskal hopes this study more city planners will pay attention to.

“That’s been the idea all the way along,” he said. “You know that’s what we cyclists would like to see.”