No safety behind the wall - separated bike lanes are more dangerous

Research carried out over the years and throughout the world comes back with a simple observation – separated bike lanes are not safer, especially at intersections.

In fact, City of Helsinki advises that "two-way cycle paths [separated bike lanes] in particular should be avoided in an urban street network.”

Locally, Vision Mayor Robertson flanked by his sidekick Vision Councillor Meggs can be heard ad nauseam pushing their opinions that placing cyclists behind fixed, solid barriers is safer.  They invite cycling lobbyists to their Council Meetings who speak of their SUBJECTIVE PERCEPTIONS of feeling safer when cycling on a separated bike lane.
Feelings and wishful thinking aside, the OBJECTIVE FACTS are clear – separated bike lanes do not make anyone safer.  Not cyclists, not pedestrians, not motorized commuters or business traffic.

The reasons are quite intuitive.  On a straight stretch of a road, where all commuters can see each other clearly there is little chance of running into each other and little to no benefit from separating bikes from other road users.  At the intersections however, a separated bike lane, with its separate set of rules, signs and lights makes an intersection more confusing and confusion is the leading cause of accidents.  As commuters we do not run into each other on purpose.

Quotes from research carried out world wide and including organizations that actively promote cycling, like the City of Copenhagen, reports that “A decline in road safety at junctions has undoubtedly taken place after the construction of cycle tracks [separated bike lanes]”

Locally, the ICBC reports an increase in accidents and injuries at the north end of the Burrard Bridge after separated bicycle lanes were installed.

Further research concluded:

“Proportion of junction accidents significantly higher with cycle tracks [separated bike lanes]”
- German Federal Highways Institute Report

“Separation of bicycles and motor vehicles leads to blind conflicts at intersections.”
- Institute of Transportation Engineers (Washington, DC)

“Cycle tracks [separated bike lanes] cause major safety problems at signalised junctions.”
- Danish Road Directorate

“... cycle tracks [separated bike lanes] increase cyclists' risk at junctions.”
- Transportation Research Board, study based in Göteborg, Sweden.

“In Helsinki, using a road-side cycle path [separated bike lane] is nearly 2.5 times likely to result in injury than cycling on the carriageway with traffic. At junctions the relative risk rises to more than 3 times. In those countries and cities which are just beginning to build cycling facilities, two-way cycle paths [separated bike lanes] in particular should be avoided in an urban street network.”

 “42% of the collisions were localized at normal roadways, 44% at bicycle tracks [separated bike lane] and 9% at paths or at the pavement”
- Odense Univ. Hospital, Denmark.

“Separated bicycle facilities are particularly troublesome in intersections involving automobile traffic and do not necessarily appear to be safer.”