Separated Bike Lanes

= Safer Streets for Everyone

Photo Credit: People for Bikes

What are separated bike lanes?

A separated bike lane is an on-road or roadside cycling facility physically separated from motor vehicle traffic with vertical elements such as bollards, flexible posts, hump delineators, planters, concrete medians or parked cars.

Separated bike lane is an official term recognized by the Federal Highway Administration. Colloquially, these facilities may be called “cycletracks,” “protected bike lanes,” “protected bikeways,” or “green lanes.”

Studies Say:

  • Compared to roads with no cycling facilities, separated bike lanes reduce the risk of cycle-crash by 9X.1
  • In Montreal, 61% more cyclists were counted at intersections with separated bike lanes than intersections without.2

Separated Bike Lanes = More Bikes

Lessons from Green Lanes, the first comprehensive study of separated bike lanes, was published in 2014 by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (Portland State University). Here’s what they found:

89 percent

Of cyclists felt “safer” using a separated bike lane than another facility

171 percent

Maximum increase in ridership on lanes where separation elements were installed

49 percent

Of cyclists ride respective routes more often since separation element were installed

11 percent

Of cyclists were new riders -- they chose to bicycle because of separation elements

This Study Says:

  • Over 60 percent of residents agreed, “I would be more likely to ride a bicycle if motor vehicles and bicycles were physically separated by a barrier.”
  • Over half of motorists felt protected bike lanes had increased road usability for all modes.

More Bikes = Greater Safety

Case Study: New York City

Since 2007, NYCDOT has added 30 Miles of separated bike lanes1


Increase in citywide bicycle count 2008-2013


Decrease in pedestrian injuries


Decrease in all serious traffic injuries


Decrease in motor vehicle occupant injuries

Total traffic injuries (drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists) dropped as much as 50% where separation was added. Bicycle injuries fell dramatically.2


Drop in bike injuries on 9th Ave, NYC


Drop in bike injuries on 8th Ave, NYC


Drop in bike injuries on Prospect Park West, NYC


Rate changes in Portland, Oregon from 1991-20113


Increase in citywide ridership


Drop in bike crash index (rate)

Countries with More Cycling have Fewer Traffic Injuries

How Do Bikes and Separated Bike Lanes Increase Safety?

  • Cyclists gather on improved facilities and new riders join them
  • Crowds are more visible so drivers learn to look out
  • Drivers slow down on narrower lanes
  • Traffic is more predictable when cyclists are separate from cars
  • Cyclists don’t ride on the sidewalk when roads feel safer
  • Dedicated space helps validate cycling as transportation