A lack of safe biking tracks might reinforce the car-centric culture that predominates in the United States, Lusk's team said. While more than a quarter of all Dutch commuters get around by bike and 55 percent of Dutch cyclists are women, in the U.S. less than one-half of 1 percent of Americans ride a bike to work and fewer than one-quarter of those riders are women.
Differences in biking infrastructure are also accompanied by starkly different accident rates: cycle injury rates are at least 26 times higher in the U.S. than in the Netherlands, the researchers noted.
In their study, Lusk and her team focused on the safety profile of the urban bike lane system first set up two decades ago in Montreal, Canada.
Injury and crash rates for six cycle tracks in Montreal were compared with one or two alternative street routes per track. Tracks and alternate streets (which lacked biking lanes) were characterized as posing similar "traffic dangers" to riders in terms of the type, number, and speed of cars on the road.
All the cycle tracks featured two-way cycle traffic (going both with vehicular traffic and against it) on one side of the road, from which they were separated by raised pavement, parking lanes, and/or posts. Most of the alternate streets ran parallel to the cycle track roads, and came to the same end-point intersections as the tracks.
Local emergency response and police records were used to assess injury and crash occurrences between 2000 and 2008. Injury severity was not assessed.
The study found that 2.5 times as many bikers used the cycle tracks compared with street routes without separated bike lanes. But even with the increase in bike congestion, injury rates on the cycle tracks remained either lower than or similar to equivalent street routes, depending on the parti
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