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Tom Fleming, St. Louis, had a Letter published in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Sat. Jan. 4, 2014) suggesting that those interested in answering the question “Do bike lanes improve safety?” do an Internet search on that phrase.

He prefaced this by referencing Karen Karabell’s Letter “Bike lanes are more dangerous than regular traffic lanes,” published December 27th, adding “these fine people are a minority of bicyclists.

Well, he’s certainly correct in that statement about Karen Karabell and others like her. Most cyclists have never had any soundly-based bike education and so like me when I first started cycling on-road, will be uninformed, relying on perception of what is safe. Even reading about it rarely changes anyone’s mind because, especially for adults who generally feel much safer driving a car, it’s hard to comprehend how it CAN be safe without dedicated facilities, such as bike lanes, or off-road trails.

Karen Karabell westbound on resurfaced Manchester Rd just after passing Kingshighway BP station

Karen Karabell demonstrating curb lane control on Manchester Ave.-MO Route 100

Karen Karabell is among the small minority of cyclists with both the experience and knowledge about what makes on-road cycling safe. Karen runs CyclingSavvy St. Louis, the local chapter of CyclingSavvy in Orlando, FL. As a CS instructor, Karen offers courses in the St. Louis metro area which teach safe on-road cycling, including important bike handling skills. While CyclingSavvy is a relatively new program it is the best by far for adults interested in using a bicycle safely and proficiently for transportation.

Returning to Tom Fleming’s suggestion, I did a Google search and turned up “Do bicycle lanes improve safety for bicyclists?” on the bicycling info.org website. Since I know something of this organization’s background I’m often leery of what they publish, but this particular document seems to adopt a cautious approach to answering this question. For example, the second paragraph about bike lanes starts as follows:

“While there are data for perceived safety, and surrogate (behavioral) measures — such as bicyclist direction of riding, sidewalk riding, and distance between passing motorists and bicyclists — that suggest improved safety, we don’t have actual measures of safety effects via crash outcomes, and even the surrogate measures are not conclusive.”

That actually seems like a reasonable and measured statement. My answer to this question may be gleaned from these three related blogs I posted recently:

“Bike lanes make roads more dangerous for cyclists” – Part I

“Bike lanes make roads more dangerous for cyclists” – Part II

“Bike lanes make roads more dangerous for cyclists” – Part III

I invite the curious reader to review them and provide considered feedback.

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