The effect of cycle lanes on cycling numbers and safety

Marked on-road cycle lane, Clyde Rd, ChristchurchMarked on-road cycle lanes are a relatively inexpensive means of providing for cycling; however, their use has been questioned in terms of both their safety and their effectiveness in attracting more people to take up cycling. While both questions have been previously researched, the findings were rather inconclusive.

A 2012 research project in Christchurch, New Zealand investigated the relative effects on cycle count and crash numbers of installing a series of on-road painted cycle lanes. Twelve routes installed in Christchurch during the mid-2000s were analysed, together with some control routes that already had cycle lanes. Cycle count data from a series of route locations and dates were used to establish cycling trends before and after installation. These were also compared against cycle crash numbers along these routes during the same periods.

Map of Cycle Lane Study SitesThe results generally show no consistent "step" increase in cycling numbers immediately following installation of cycle lanes, with some increasing and decreasing. Changes on cycling growth rates were more positive, although it is clear that other wider trends such as motor traffic growth are having an effect. Taking into account the control routes and relative changes in volumes, the study also found notable reductions in cycle crashes following installation, typically with a 23% average reduction in crash rates. However, this reduction was not statistically significant at the 95% level.

Glen Koorey co-authored this paper with University of Canterbury Masters student James Parsons and presented this at the 2016 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington DC. You can download the paper and poster. Glen and James also previously presented this work as a poster paper at the 2013 IPENZ Transportation Conference in Dunedin.

Cycle lane study results


Where presented/published

95th Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting, Washington DC, USA