Communities Try out Different Approaches to Bicycle Safety

As more numbers of bicyclists join motorists on our streets, cities across the country including California, are trying out different ways of integrating these bicyclists into the streets, without compromising safety.

While some communities are experimenting very successfully by installing more bike lanes, others have seen success from the use of other bike safety strategies. In these communities, the installation of cycle tracks and shared lane markings, bike boxes and bike boulevards have proven to be more effective in helping segregate bicycling and motorist traffic, and keeping bicyclists safer.

In many communities however, figuring out the best way to promote bicycle safely is an ongoing process. One thing that all communities and California bicycle accident attorneys agree on is that there is no point in encouraging more people to bicycle to work to reduce traffic congestion, if you’re not willing to make the effort to foster a safe, bicycle-friendly environment. Fortunately, many communities are waking up to this realization, and are investing in strategies.

The most common strategy that is being used to help keep bicyclists safe is installation of bike lanes that are marked off. However, in many of these cases, the lanes have not been designed the right way, and many riders may be vulnerable to injuries when a car door is opened in their path. Bike lanes need to be well designed and maintained to be effective.

Another feature that many communities are using is bike boxes, or special sections that are available for bicyclists to stop at a red light, usually located in front of the vehicle stop light. Cycle tracks, which are separated from automobiles by physical barriers, are also increasing in use. In other communities, bicycles or cars are separated by painting the road with sharrows, or shared lane markings.

Smart Initiatives Can Make a City Safe for Bicyclists

The success that the city of Memphis has had in creating a safe environment for bicyclists provides a model that California bicycle accident attorneys believe deserves to be replicated in this state. For years, this was one of the most dangerous cities for bicyclists, but all that has been changed, thanks to the expansion of bicycling infrastructure and more street-friendly initiatives to keep bicyclists safer.

In 2008, Bicycling magazine named Memphis as one of the most dangerous and worst cities in America for bicyclists. That was not the first time that the city had been given that dubious honor, but when new mayor AC Wharton Junior was elected the following year, he decided to change things around.

He embarked on an ambitious plan of expansion of bicycling infrastructure. In 2008, the city had just about a mile-and-half of bicycle lanes. Flash forward to 2012, and Memphis has about 50 miles of dedicated bicycle lanes across the city. Close to $1 million was spent in expanding existing bicycling infrastructure, and the city recently was awarded close to $5 million for bicycling projects.

In June of 2012, Memphis bicyclists won another victory when federal officials awarded the city $15 million to turn part of the Harahan Bridge into a pedestrian bicycling crossing. This ambitious project will link downtown Memphis with West Memphis, Arkansas.

The promotion of bicycling infrastructure in the city has also meant an economic boost, and Memphis plans on using the new, expanded lane network as an economic development tool. How seriously the city now takes bicycling safety can be seen in the fact that the Mayor has created a special position called Bike Pedestrian Coordinator for the city.

None of this change has come without protest. Many motorists are already complaining about the lack of parking space in the city after the expansion of biking infrastructure.