Glen Koorey wrote to me about my comments on painted lines on the roads being unsafe:
Hi Garry, good to read another weekly Tuesday Club newsletter. Just thought that I would weigh into the “painted cycle lanes are dangerous” discussion, because I’m wary that some of the research out there is being misinterpreted. This article I wrote a couple of years back to address the research that you spoke of:
…and here is the related local research on (well-designed) painted cycle lanes:
The paper below included these paragraphs:
Fortunately, Christchurch has relatively good crash data and cycle count data going back since before 2000. So, a recent study took advantage of that to investigate the effect of constructing twelve new cycle lane routes around the city in the mid-2000s. These were a fairly standard collection of on-road cycle lanes, some next to the kerbside and some next to parking. The results were presented at last year’s IPENZ Transportation Conference in Dunedin (see conference paper – PDF).
Cycle crash and count data for each site were collected for about five years each side of construction. This enabled a comparison of “crash rates” (per cycle-km travelled) before and after the cycle lane treatments. To check that the results weren’t being affected by other external factors, three other cycle lane sections constructed before 2000 were used as “control” sites over the same period. The small crash numbers (often less than 1 per year per site) mean that the results for each individual site can vary a bit. But collectively, there was a very impressive 23% reduction in cycle crash rates after the installation of cycle lanes.
Overall cycle lane safety findings
The results suggest that well-designed cycle lanes help improve the safety of those using them. There are probably a number of reasons for this, including:
- A visible reminder to motorists of the possible presence of people cycling
- Providing a more consistent line for those cycling and driving
- Shifting riders a bit further away from the problematic door zone
- For some sites, removal of car parking on one side to fit the cycle lanes in
Note that I said “well designed” – fortunately most of Christchurch’s cycle lanes have been provided with industry best-practice widths and layouts (although we can all think of a few pinchpoints…). Unfortunately the same can’t be said for some narrow, stop-start cycle lanes around the country and that can make the cure worse than the disease; poor maintenance also doesn’t help their usefulness.
It is for this reason that Christchurch is likely to continue to provide on-road painted cycle lanes where they are warranted on busier routes that are not part of the Major Cycleway network. They are a very cost-effective way to provide some safer space for cycling. But it is also accepted that they won’t be the way to get more people cycling – and that’s where the Major Cycleways Programme comes in…
So, I owe Glen a beer. My comments were wrong….