Reported by CJ Paschall

The goal of bicycle lanes is to keep both riders and drivers safe but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says they’re not doing the job. This study is calling into question the safety of street-level protected bike lanes.

Protected bike lanes, those with physical barriers between cyclists and traffic, have become more and more common in cities across the country.

According to the study, bikers in protected lanes were actually more likely to suffer injuries than cyclists in unprotected lanes or those on major roads with no infrastructure at all.

The study attributes the surprising findings to the fact that protected lanes were more likely to be found on busier streets. Busy intersections, construction blockage, and illegally parked cars also highly contributed to the increased risk of injury.

“I do think you certainly feel safer as a cyclist when you have those physical barriers, but the statistics show that everywhere you really have to be mindful and watch out,” said Fox Ware, Community Bikes.

However, the study did show protected bike lanes raised from the roadways on bridges or in greenways were much safer when compared to street-level lanes.

The study’s advice to cities aiming to make cycling safer is to locate protected lanes away from major intersections, bar pedestrians from entering the bike lanes, consider raised bike crossings or locating lanes away from the street.