A solution for bikes and pedestrians

08/17/2014 12:00 AM

10/08/2014 12:14 PM

As Americans walk and bike more, there’s a war for space on our nation’s sidewalks. A simple solution exists.

Protected bike lanes sharply reduce sidewalk biking, resulting in fewer clashes, recent city studies shows.

Some people bike recklessly on sidewalks, just as some people drive recklessly on streets. But the truth is that even reckless bikers wouldn’t be on the sidewalk without a reason.

Nobody prefers to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk next to people on foot, who are inherently unpredictable: they may suddenly stop to tie a shoelace or turn to look in a storefront window.

People bike on sidewalks for two main reasons: because they’re looking for a space that’s physically separated from cars and trucks, or they’re traveling against traffic on a one-way street.

Well-designed, protected bike lanes, which use posts, curbs or parked cars to divide bike and auto traffic, create a safer solution to both of these needs. In project after project, adding a protected bike lane to a street has sharply cut sidewalk biking even as it greatly increased bike traffic.

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