19 November 2012

Who Rides The Lanes?

Whatever their flaws, dedicated bike lanes seem to increase the number of cyclists, particularly commuters and utility cyclists.  At least, that's what I'd conclude from my own observations, however representative they may or may not be.

I, along with WE Bike, are going to do some research on the topic.  We'd like to know not only whether (and, if so, by how much) the number of cyclists increases after bike laned are constructed or set aside.  Also, if the number does indeed increase, we'd be curious to know what types of cyclists are increasing in number.  Are they mainly commuters, recreational cyclists or some other kinds of riders?  Also--as you might expect from WE Bike--we'd like to know whether the number of female cyclists increases as a result of lanes opening.  

From Cyclr

Why does that last question matter?  Well, even though the number of female cyclists has certainly increased, the vast majority of pedalers one sees, at least in this city, are male.  Are there actual or perceived barriers to cycling for women (and girls) that are, at least partially, eliminated when lanes are opened?


  1. The important question is, 'Where are the new cyclists coming from?'

    It's all well and good to bring people into cycling. But when bike lanes have a questionable safety record, if these facilities do bring more people to cycling,it's important that they bring people in who are using a more dangerous mode of transport, not a less dangerous one.

    In other words, it's essential that the increase is coming from motorists. If bike lanes are drawing people who use public transportation, that is not good, since public transportation is much safer than cycling.

  2. Ian--Yes! We really want to turn drivers, rather than users of mass transit, into cycle-commuters.

    That said, while mass transit may indeed be safer than cycling, I think that is a reason to seriously think about the design and purpose of bike lanes, and the environments in which they will be built. Poorly-designed and -constructed lanes are actually worse for cycling than the streets are. Any number of things might entice a driver to become a bike-commuter, but bad experiences with lanes might scare him or her off cycle-commuting--or cycling altogether.