young woman riding bicycle on bike lane
04 Nov

How Do Bike Lanes Help the Environment?


It’s generally well accepted that biking is better for the environment since it produces no pollution and consumes no fossil fuels. However, many people choose not to bike, citing safety as a top concern. Bike lanes provide a solution for safety-minded bikers, creating an opportunity for more biking with added safety and specific routes.

Bike lanes are vital because they help increase bicycling trips, which has shown to have a corresponding decrease in car trips. According to AdventureCycling.org, some researchers suspect that the amount of CO2 emissions and fuel reduction could be significant with slight increases in bike commuters, suggesting saving 6-14 million tons of CO2 and 700 million to 1.6 billion gallons of fuel.

The addition of bike lanes to urban areas drastically increases the number of cyclists in that city, not just on the streets with the new bike lanes. Connected research shows that more bike lanes encourage more bike commutes which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves health.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study reporting that cities that added bike infrastructure noted cycling increased up to 48 percent more than cities that did not add bike lanes.

Researchers collected bike data from 106 European cities. They measured the lengths of bike lanes, the number of bikers citywide, and recorded newly built bike paths. The cities that had recently added bike lanes saw an increase of 11 to 48 percent more bikers than cities without new bike lanes.

Even with the weather and public transit changes, the researchers noticed that the increase in bikers remained.

“They increase our physical activity and reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, which all have impacts on health,” said Matthew Raifman, a doctoral student in environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health. From a separate study, Raifman discovered that investments in sidewalk and bike infrastructure more than paid for themselves once health benefits were considered as well.

Sometimes construction or transit strikes cause commuters to seek creative solutions to efficiently arrive at their work destinations, and that includes solo driving, biking, public transport, and carpooling.

“There’s indications from mobility behavior research that as soon as you find another way of getting around, then you might actually stick to it,” Sebastian Kraus, the lead author on the Paris study of pop-up bike lane programs and a doctoral candidate in economics at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin, said. “So I’m confident that if you keep the infrastructure, that people will continue cycling.”

Biking promises a lower risk of cancer and heart disease while bike infrastructure has shown to make cities more equitable since many minority and low-income communities rely on bicycles as their main mode of transportation.

In fact, the Chicago Tribune reported that the largest group of Americans who bike to work daily are those from “households that earn less than $10,000.” And with recent studies focusing on the benefits of bike paths, it’s clear that more Americans would choose to bike to work if given safe routes. Meanwhile, the European Union estimates that biking prevents nearly 16 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions from joining the atmosphere.

Bike path infrastructure is a powerful tool to benefit the environment, human health, and economic well being. At StrongGo, we believe that a greener earth is a safer and more accessible one. StrongGo has developed the highly detectable Trapezoid Delineator to create a barrier-free separation between bicyclists and pedestrians on shared paths. Talk to an industry expert today by emailing csd@stronggo.com!

Sources:
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/01/climate/bikes-climate-change.html
https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/us-bicycle-route-system/benefits-and-building-support/environmental-impact/