Cycle lanes make roads MORE dangerous for cyclists because cars overtake bikes 15 inches CLOSER than when there are no painted guidelines

  •  Researchers examined the effect that painted cycle lanes have on motorists 
  • One in three overtakes in higher speed zones were deemed to be ‘close passes’
  •  The painted lanes make motorists less conscious according to the researchers
  • The study followed 60 cyclists who rode their bikes with a device that measured the distance that motor vehicle drivers provide when passing cyclists

Painted cycle lanes do not make roads more safe for cyclists as an alarming number are found reduce the distance motorists gave cyclists, an Australian study claims.

Motorists passing bikes on roads where there were cycle lanes were found to pass an average of 15 inches (40cm) closer than on roads with no cycle lanes.

The study suggests the painted lanes mean that there is less of a conscious requirement for drivers to provide safe additional passing distance.

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Painted cycle lanes do not make roads more safe for cyclists as an alarming number are found reduce the distance motorists gave cyclists. Motorists passing bikes on roads where there were cycle lanes were found to pass closer than on roads with no cycle lanes

The largest of its kind, the study followed 60 cyclists in Melbourne who rode their bicycles on their commutes with a device called a ‘MetreBox’. 

These were installed to quantify the distance that motor vehicle drivers provide when passing cyclists.

More than 18,000 vehicle passing events from 422 trips were recorded were an alarming number of cars came too close in proximity to the cyclists. 

One in three overtakes in high-speed zones were deemed a ‘close pass’ and 124 passing events came within less than 23 inches (60cm) of the cyclist. 

Most Australian States and Territories have either legislated or begun trials of minimum passing distance laws to provide greater safety for cyclists. 

These laws legislate a minimum distance of one metre when the speed limit is 38 mph (60km/h) or less, and five feet (1.5 metres) when the speed limit is greater than 38 mph (60km/h). 

‘We know that vehicles driving closely to cyclists increases how unsafe people feel when riding bikes and acts as a strong barrier to increasing cycling participation,’ said Doctor Ben Beck, who lead the study.

Doctor Beck, who’s also Monash University’s Deputy Head of Prehospital, Emergency and Trauma Research said that more protected cycle lanes need to be created.

He said that the lanes made cyclists more liable to be subjected to close overtakes.

Doctor Ben Beck who’s also Monash University’s Deputy Head of Prehospital, Emergency and Trauma Research said that more protected cycle lanes need to be created

‘Specifically, passing events on roads with a bicycle lane and a parked car were on average 15 inches (40cm) closer than events on roads with no bicycle lane or parked cars,’ he explained.

‘The magnitude of that ­difference is quite substantial. As someone who cycles myself, we all know that a painted lane next to parked cars is not a safe space.’

Research findings suggest that marked on-road bicycle lanes, particularly alongside parked cars, are not the optimal solution for protecting people who ride bikes.

Specifically, passing events that occurred on a road with a bicycle lane and a parked car had an average passing distance that was 15 inches (40cm) less than a road without a bicycle lane or a parked car.

‘Our results demonstrate that a single stripe of white paint is not sufficient to protect people who ride bikes,’ Dr Beck said.

The study said that in situations where the cyclist is in the same lane as the motorist, the driver is required to perform an overtaking manoeuvre. 

Whereas in situations where the cyclist is in a marked bicycle lane, the motorist has a clear lane ahead and not required to overtake. 

‘As a result, we believe that there is less of a conscious requirement for drivers to provide additional passing distance,’ said Dr Beck.

WHAT ARE THE CYCLING RULES IN AUSTRALIA? 

All bikes in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) whether being ridden on or off road, must have:

– a warning device such as a bell or horn

– at least one effective brake

– a red rear reflector

– an approved helmet

It is also required by law that, if riding in the dark or in poor light conditions, a bike must have a front white light and red rear light, both visible for at least 200m.

A bike rider must be at least 16 years old if towinga bike trailor, and the passender must be less than 10 years old. Both must wear helmets

A bike rider cannot ride on a pedestrian only footpath

A bike rider must give way to pedestrians on a shared footpath, and it is NOT required for a pedestrian to move out of a cyclists way.

New bicycle crossing lights (illuminated green bike symbol), allows a cyclist to cross the intersection, even if the lights are yellow or red.

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