Cycle Lanes. Are they fit for their purpose?

If most of the people using cycle lanes do not feel safe on them – surely, they are not fulfilling their purpose.

Experienced cyclists feel safe when using these cycle lanes. But inexperienced cyclists do not, possibly deterring them from cycling altogether. We do so much work on increasing sustainable travel and improving people’s health, but there needs to be drastic change to make people feel safe. It is not just about the quantity of the cycle lanes; they need to be of good quality.

Vancouver has made a grading system to ensure everyone is aiming for the most comfortable cycle lanes possible. This requires cycle lanes to be safe, comfortable for ‘all ages and abilities’ – Hence the name ‘Triple A’.

The ‘Triple A’ structure does not only focus on safety but also comfort. While most cycle lanes are legally safe, it doesn’t mean that people automatically feel safe and able to use them. Physical safety is always vital, but this structure recognises that not all designated cycle lanes are not comfortable for different age groups and even different experiences.

A painted line on a road does not give a lot of comfort to cyclists knowing that some drivers simply ignore them or do not realise that they are there. There is no secret about who would end up in a worse situation between a car and a bike.

The benefit of this infrastructure is that the increased safety and comfort will encourage so many more people to swap to a bike rather than walking to work.

We’ll be hearing a whole lot more about this over the coming few months, as active travel really gets the push that it deserves. In the recovery from COVID-19 getting the country moving again while maintaining social distancing is going to rely on more active travel, and it’s about time too.