Sidewalks and bike lanes are regarded as safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists, but that is not always the case. In fact, the layout of streets can affect the safety of non-vehicle roadway users even when sidewalks and crosswalks are present. 102 pedestrians and cyclists have died on Denver roads since 2012, including 26 in 2016, the most in the four-year period.
When Denver Mayor Michael Hancock took office in 2011, he committed to a “Vision Zero” goal of ending traffic-related deaths in the city, yet the fatalities have risen since then. Although the city has yet to complete its plan for safer streets, statistics from around the country show that improving road designs can be better for both pedestrians and drivers.
If you build it, they will ride
Many public safety and health trends come and go, but biking and walking are likely here to stay. Studies show that the construction of bikes lanes encourages increased ridership and wellbeing among a city’s residents. For every mile of new bike lane, ridership increased 0.4 percent, according to BMJ, a global healthcare knowledge provider.
In the state of New York, construction of bike lanes is estimated to have increased ridership by nearly 10 percent. Greater use of bike lanes then leads to lower levels pollution and better health and wellbeing among residents.
Increased ridership isn’t without injury risks
Although the existence of more bike lanes is a boon to public health, improper design can still pose injury risks. Bike lanes must be physically separated by a curb or barrier from car lanes to reduce injuries, according to BMJ. This model is also known as “complete streets” that suit the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike.
The layout includes sidewalks and refugee islands, but perhaps overlooked are trees, pedestrian countdown signals and narrower lanes, according to Smart Growth America. 30 of 51 metropolitan areas have become less dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists since adopting a “complete streets” design.
Motorists still have the advantage
New design ideas can decrease the likelihood of pedestrian-vehicle or cyclists-vehicle accidents in a city, but they may not reduce their severity. When a car strikes a pedestrian or cyclist, a lack of protective equipment can result in broken bones and traumatic brain injury, especially among children and the elderly.
Where public design fails, a personal injury lawyer can there for injured pedestrians and cyclists who are injured in collisions with motor vehicles.