Last night, a 55 year old man was critically injured by a hit-and-run vehicle at Cedar Springs Road and Reagan Streets. The individual was crossing a 4-lane road in a popular area of Oak Lawn.
Though the accident was tragic, the potential to reduce this man’s risk is possible with an engineering solution that reduces accident rates for all road users (pedestrians, bicycles, and cars), and that is simply to add bike-lanes. New York City has shown accident reductions of 40-50% by all modes when re-engineering their streets with bike lanes (http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/bike_lanes_memo.pdf). How does this occur? The crossing distance and exposure to risk by high-speed vehicles is cut dramatically. Also, the bike-lane adds a “buffer” between cars and pedestrians walking on the sidewalk.
The following article (http://crosscut.com/2009/09/03/transportation/19210/Sharrows-are-a-sham-solution-for-bike-lanes/) by Crosscut in Seattle notes that “bike sharrows” alone are “a sham solution for bike lanes…and do little more than enable politicians to claim more bike miles.”
The reason for this is that the “safety buffer” created for pedestrians and bicycles is completely removed and exposure to risk remains elevated. When the Dallas Bike Plan was developed in 2010-2011, the crucial understanding for this lowering of risk was incorporated into the plans for our City’s revised infrastructure. The recent request to amend these changes by the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce are in direct dispute of known national data for what creates accidents and what allows for a safe street.
Bike lanes are not just for bicyclists, but develop a streetscape that shows real improvement to safety, increased economics, health, and the easing of traffic for all users. Taking steps to water-down this infrastructure is a step backwards for our city and one that has a foundation in past ideas that have proven detrimental to our long-term growth and safety. If we are to remove this safety barrier, what is being put in place to protect area pedestrians and bicyclists from cars and increased high-speed ambulance traffic?