Bicycle Lanes Save Pedestrians’ Lives

by Ilana Galatan

Two weeks ago, in Queens, on Utopia Parkway and 16th Avenue, a high school honor student was struck and killed by a car that ran a red light.  I can’t imagine what is must be like to bury your own daughter, someone who must have given her parents so much pride and had such potential.

According to Making Safer Streets, from the NYC Department of Transportation, published in 2013, there were 393 traffic fatalities in 2001 which decreased to 277 in 2012.  In addition, traffic fatalities decreased 12 to 52 percent on streets after installing protected bike lanes.  Currently, at the intersection where the teen was hit, the bike lane is unprotected.  

According to Making Safer Streets, having protected bike lanes increases visibility for pedestrians, bicyclists and turning cars as well as improve predictability, as now the bicyclists and turning cars share curbside lanes.   People don’t get hit by the cars they see coming, but rather, it’s the ones they don’t know about.

Furthermore, according to Making Safer Streets, when the traffic is closer together, there is less room for cars to weave in and out and less availability for speeding.  When cars go straight and at the speed limit, there is a lower risk of crashes.  Even if there is a crash, is the driver’s speed is lower, there is a lower the risk of death.

Protected bike lanes also shorten crossing distances.  The less distance the individual has to cross traffic, means there is a lower the probability of being hit by a motor vehicle.

Street safety must come first and protected bike lanes make that happen for pedestrians as well as cyclists.  Each life we save, we save the families and friends too, and even others.  Protected bike lanes are well worth it.

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