Bike-sharing programs are fast becoming a part of the urban landscape in the United States. One association is working to keep city bikers safe.
New York City’s bike-sharing program has plenty of bugs to work out, but it has attracted more than 36,000 annual memberships since its debut two weeks ago.
According to Citi Bike’s blog, riders have taken 212,015 trips using the shared bikes during that time. No serious injuries have been reported thus far.
With more cities debuting and developing bike-shares and becoming more bicycle-friendly in general, the National Association of City Transportation Officials is working to keep urban biking safe. The group released the “Urban Bikeway Design Guide” to provide “state-of-the-practice solutions that can help create complete streets that are safe and enjoyable for bicyclists.”
NACTO worked with urban bikeway planning professionals from 22 member cities as well as with traffic engineers, planners, and academics to create the guide. Recommendations include having well-marked and distinct bike lines, a buffered area between traffic and the bike lane, bicycle signal lights at intersections, and a bicycle “wayfinding system” of comprehensive signage and pavement markings.
The recommendations aren’t the only measures being considered by U.S. cities looking to make the urban landscape more hospitable to bicyclists.
Chicago, which delayed the debut of its bike-sharing system by two weeks for “more extensive testing” of equipment, is toughening up its laws in order to keep bikers safe. According to The New York Times, the Chicago City Council voted to double fines for drivers who open doors in front of bike riders; violators will now have to shell out $300 for an infraction, or $1,000 if the action causes an accident.
Bike-sharing programs in other countries have led to increased safety. BloombergBusinessweek cites a 2011 study finding that Barcelona’s bike-sharing program “saved an average of 12 lives a year” since debuting in 2007, thanks to the health benefits of riding as well as the reduction of automobile exhaust emissions. Those benefits outweighed the risks of traffic accidents, the study found.