Why do we need bike lanes?
“Many cyclists who currently bike seem perfectly happy mixing with traffic. Why do we need to build expensive bike lanes?”
While it’s true that the few people who currently cycle appear happy enough riding in and amongst traffic, it’s not ideal and certainly doesn’t feel safe.
Research shows there are four types of cyclists:
Strong and fearless (<1%)
Enthused and confident (7%)
Interested but concerned (60%)
No way no how (33%) (okay, so three types of ‘cyclist’ and one non-cycling group)
Currently, in Wellington we have a healthy ‘strong and fearless’ group, and a growing ‘enthused and confident’ group. With better infrastructure we can make riding a bike accessible to the much bigger ‘interested but concerned’ group (which most of us fall into), giving us all real transport choices.
More people on bikes, means less pressure on roads and less congestion – making it easier for those of us who need to drive or use public transport to get where we’re going. Separating bikes from cars also reduces potential conflict (particularly at intersections) and accidents.
Riding a bike is also much more social. You can pop on a bike and park right outside a busy cafe, and it’s easy to stop and chat with friends along the way. You also see more – areas with higher numbers of cyclists feel a lot safer at night for pedestrians. The roads will be a nicer place to be for all of us.
Right now, Wellington has the worst safety record for cyclists in New Zealand. It’s not a record we’re keen to keep. All people make mistakes, but when that mistake can lead to two-tonnes of steel ploughing into a person protected only by a styrofoam helmet, it can have grave consequences. It’s not a situation any of us want to be in.
The road design can help lessen the impact and frequency of accidents. It makes sense to separate big and small, fast and slow. This is why CAW supports separated or ‘protected’ bike lanes, with appropriate, easy to use cycling facilities at intersections. It doesn’t need to be a drastic change, and the result will be a more ‘people’ friendly neighbourhood.