This month, as more cyclists take to the streets, the Philadelphia Streets Department is at work adding, upgrading, and reconfiguring bike lanes to improve bicycle safety.
As PhillyVoice reported, these improvements include:
- Protected bike lanes, which will use permanent physical barriers to separate bicycles from traffic. The advantage of protected bike lanes is that they carve out a space specifically for cyclists, not motorists or pedestrians.
- Parking-protected bike lanes; that is, lanes where parked cars form a physical barrier between the bike lane and the rest of traffic. Parking-protected lanes are thought to reduce the risk of "dooring" accidents compared to conventional bike lanes since cyclists pass the parked cars on the passenger side.
- Paint-buffered bike lanes, which create a designated buffer space between the bike lane and the travel lane for cars. Paint-buffered lanes allow more space for cyclists to pass other bicycles on the left without encroaching into the motor vehicle travel lane.
Each of these improvements has its advantages and disadvantages, and we applaud the city of Philadelphia for considering which solutions will work best in different parts of the city - and it all can't come soon enough, because the stakes for cyclists are high. In April, for instance, a woman was fatally struck while riding her bicycle outside the Art Museum, just days before the city started work on new bike lane improvements. This fall, AIM Academy in Conshohocken will open a new bicycle repair shop in memory of a student who was killed in a bicycle accident in Philadelphia.
It's clear that physical improvements to our roads are needed to protect cyclists. Motorists, too, need to do their part to share the road.
Too many bicycle crashes are caused by careless motorists
Physical barriers between drivers and cyclists are important because when a car crashes into a bicycle, there is only so much anyone can do to mitigate the risk of injury. Helmets guard against some types of head injuries, and other protective gear can provide some defense against other types of injuries, but what's far more important is stopping bicycle accidents from happening in the first place.
That means motorists need to check twice for oncoming bicycles when making a left turn at an intersection, pulling out of a driveway, or making any other maneuver, especially on warm days when more cyclists are out of the road. Drivers and passengers need to check over their shoulders for bicycles before opening car doors into traffic. And distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, and other types of negligence must be avoided because too often, it's cyclists who pay the price for someone else's irresponsible driving.
That's why it's so important to hold negligent drivers accountable when they hit vulnerable road users.
Our law firm stands up for injured cyclists in Philadelphia
The Hanamirian Firm, PC has the experience and resources needed to stand up for injured cyclists and win high-stakes cases. If you've been hurt in a bicycle accident, give us a call or contact us online for a free consultation.