A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that shielded bicycle lanes decrease bike accidents and fatalities. Presumably, constructing dedicated bike lanes in Chicago would help reduce bicycle accidents.
The Harvard study compared two different kinds of bicycle lanes: Those that run parallel to roadways, separated by a painted line, and those separated by a permanent, physical barrier. The latter type of lane is called a "cycle track", and Harvard's study found that they save lives.
The researchers found that a cyclist who uses a cycle track instead of a parallel bike lane has a 28 percent less chance of being involved in an accident with a car. 51,000 American cyclists were injured in auto accidents in 2009.
Cycle track lanes are typically separated from vehicular traffic by a parking lane, or involve a space that is raised, similar to how a sidewalk is protected from a road. The Netherlands currently has 18,000 miles of cycle tracks; the United States has only 20. The Harvard study found that the difference in cycle track mileage has a staggering effect on accident rates-bicycle injury rates are 26 times higher in the US than in the Netherlands.
Out of 991 traffic fatalities in Illinois in 2009, 20 were cyclist deaths. The installation of cycle tracks may help reduce bike accidents in Illinois' biggest city: Chicago. Currently, the city has 110 miles of on-street bicycle lanes, but no cycle tracks. Cycling advocates should continue to voice support for the creation of such lanes, as increased safety will also encourage more bicyclists and lessen Chicago's traffic woes.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a motorist while cycling, it is important to contact a reputable personal injury attorney to help you through the legal issues involved.