Dedicating Space for Low-Stress Biking
To make bicycling a way of life for a large share of the population —not just committed cyclists — it’s crucial to offer riders a sense of protection from traffic on busy streets. Dutch cities routinely create bike lanes with physical barriers between riders and cars. Not only does this give bikes and cars more room to breathe, it increases bicyclists’ psychological sense of comfort, which encourages more people to ride.
New York was one of the first U.S. cities to follow suit by creating a physical buffer between bike lanes and moving car traffic. Commuter bicycling in NYC more than doubled between 2006 and 2010 while crash rates have decreased on the re-engineered roadways.
Closer to home
The post-war Dutch city of Rotterdam resembles an American city with wide streets, glass skyscrapers, fast traffic, and aggressive drivers. But 22 percent of trips are made by bike—a number that’s rising 3 percent annually thanks to efforts to physically separate bike lanes from traffic, notes city planner Wim Hinkamp.
(below) Physical separation between moving cars and bicycles helps provide a safe, low-stress experience and encourages more people to ride. Photo: Amsterdamize.com