Car users would prefer separated bike lanes too, study finds

July 19, 2013

Michael Andersen

There’s no question: some car drivers hate complete streets. But a growing body of evidence shows that the majority of urban auto users prefer bike lanes — especially physically separated ones.

The latest proof comes from Rebecca Sanders, a transportation planning scholar at the University of California-Berkeley.

As reported last month by Streetsblog DC, Sanders conducted surveys of people arriving at various locations on San Pablo Avenue in the East San Francisco Bay (pictured above) by foot, car, transit and bike, asking what amenities would make them feel safer.

The replies were startling.

“The most requested item, across the board, was a bicycle lane on the corridor,” Sanders told Streetsblog. “It was the most requested item by drivers, it was the most requested item by pedestrians, and it was the most requested item by bicyclists. That was quite surprising to us.”

This wasn’t just a Bay Area trend, either. Bike lanes placed a “close second,” after crosswalks, in Sanders’ similar Los Angeles survey.

Sanders even found that many car drivers said they’d come to a street more often if it had a bike lane.

Eight percent of those who arrived by car said a bike lane would be in their top five list of amenities that would make them visit a place more frequently, compared to 11 percent who said it’d be trees and landscaping, 11 percent who wanted retail, food and entertainment and 6 percent who wanted street lighting.

The perception among people who use cars that physically separated bike lanes make them feel comfortable holds true whether or not they also use bikes frequently. Among all sorts of drivers, the more that bikes are separated from cars, the more pleasant a street feels:

Looks as if when it comes to our streets, as with so much else, the things that unite us are greater than the things that divide us.

Green lane fact of the day: Even drivers who never ride bikes themselves overwhelmingly report greater comfort around physically separated bike lanes.

See all Protected Bike Lanes blog entries

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