With more health-conscious people choosing to ride bicycles instead of drive cars whenever possible, bicycle lanes have popped up all over the country. But do these lanes actually prevent motor vehicles from hitting you?

People Power Movement declares that bike lanes regularly fail to give cyclists adequate protection. They cite the findings of a recent study to back up their declaration.

Motor vehicles versus bicycles

It goes without saying that your chances of receiving serious injuries in a vehicle-bike crash far exceed those of motor vehicle drivers. Whether or not that enters into drivers’ thinking when they pass a cyclist, the study encompassing 18,500 “car-bike overtaking events” revealed the following:

  • On average, drivers maintain 5.5 feet of space between their vehicle and a cyclist when no bicycle lane exists.
  • They leave only 3.5 feet of space between their vehicle and a cyclist when (s)he is riding in a bicycle lane.
  • The bigger the vehicles, the less room their drivers leave between themselves and a cyclist, whether or not (s)he rides in a bicycle lane.
  • The higher the road’s speed limit, or the narrower its lanes, the less room drivers leave between themselves and a cyclist, whether or not (s)he rides in a bicycle lane.

Illusory safety

Painted bike lanes and bicycle symbols clearly identify a bike lane for what it is and the nature of its purpose. However, that is all painted lines and symbols do. They do not prevent you from weaving out of your lane, nor do they prevent vehicle drivers from weaving or veering into it. Consequently, they offer you no real protection. Only your own vigilance can help you prevent a vehicle-bike crash in which you could sustain life-altering injuries.