Why protected lanes?

Protected lanes would prevent 40% of crashes in Cambridge

In Cambridge, nearly 40% of reported bicycle-motor vehicle crashes occur away from intersections – these include doorings, sideswipe crashes, rear end crashes, and head on crashes. These crashes that do not occur at intersections are made either physically impossible or much less likely by the design of protected bike lanes. A bicyclist riding separated from moving cars by a row of parked cars or another physical barrier simply cannot be sideswiped or run over by a moving car, or is at least substantially less likely to be run over, as long as the barrier is in the way.

Regarding doorings, the second most common type of crash reported in Cambridge, the protected bike lane design used in Cambridge that includes a buffer between parked cars and protected bike lane also makes doorings much less likely, since car doors will be opened into the buffer, not the bike lane. Moreover, even if a dooring occurs, the cyclist will be thrown into only the bike lane or sidewalk, not into moving traffic. For example, Amanda Phillips’ death, in which she was doored, thrown into traffic, and run over by a truck, would not have happened if she had been in a protected bike lane, because even if she had been doored, she would not have been thrown under the truck.

Regarding right hooks, the increased distance from cars moves the cyclist out of the car’s blind spot, while also giving everyone more time to react before a crash happens. See the diagram below from the MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Guide.

Protection is necessary for many people who want to ride

A study identified four different types of riders, including one type for people who would never ride. The majority (56%) of riders were in the “Interested but Concerned” group, showing that many people wanted to ride but felt unsafe in the current conditions. A similar survey of 50 metropolitan areas found a similar breakdown.

A survey conducted in Cambridge in 2014 found that the majority of concerned cyclists who only bike some places or were scared to bike in the city are comfortable in a protected bike lane or raised cycle track, but not conventional lanes.

160 crashes happen every year, and even more go unreported

Based on the Cambridge Police Department’s data analysis from 2000-2015, the average crash rate is 160 crashes per year. This means a crash is happening involving a person riding a bicycle and a car almost every other day. An average of 45 people (28%) were injured severely enough to require EMS transport.

Not only are there crashes that are not reported to the police, but also there are plenty of close calls. To show what sort of toll that takes on everyone involved– the person riding, their friends and loved ones, and the person driving– we collected stories from regular people, from men and women, fathers, students, people coming home from dinner or trying to go to work or school as a part of the Scary Moments Project.