Bicycling is an increasingly popular transportation method in Massachusetts, however, the increase in bicycling corresponds with a rise in Massachusetts bike accidents. To address the dangers of biking, cities have created bike lanes to make biking safer and more accessible. Although, bike lanes are part of a more significant nationwide safety effort, they often pose risks of their own, especially when the lanes are poorly designed.
According to the National Association of City Transportation, a bike lane is a defined part of a roadway that has been designated for the exclusive use of bicyclists. These lanes are typically marked with distinctive signage or markings. The lanes allow bicyclists to safely ride without traffic interference. However, in most cases, bike lanes do not have any barriers to protect cyclists from encroaching vehicles. These lanes usually run in the same direction as traffic; but in some instances, there may be portions that run in the opposite direction of traffic. It is crucial that cities thoroughly evaluate traffic patterns and provide sufficient buffers and signage to protect bicyclists from traffic, pedestrians, and parked vehicles.
Despite safety measures, bike lanes pose risks because of the inherent danger of bicyclists sharing the roadway with vehicles. In fact, some argue that bikers and motorists fail to appreciate the danger of sharing the road because of the false sense of security that a bike lane may provide. However, many accidents can be avoided if these lanes are appropriately designed and include sufficient signage and barriers.