Bike lane FAQs
Why do you spend so much money on something that no one uses?
First of all, bike lanes are cheap. Really cheap. The bike lane is one of the most efficient and cheap transportation infrastructures because (1) bike lanes can carry several times more people than a car lane with the same width and (2) bikes are much lighter than cars and thus do not damage the road as much as cars do. The more bike lanes we have, we need to spend much less on road maintenance and the more space will become available for buildings, parks, and anything that enhances the quality of life.
Another important benefit is that bike usage improves the health of people. Bikes are slower than cars and that means they are much less deadly if well-protected, well-connected bike paths are available to everyone. Riding a bike (even an ebike) is also superb exercise and can make people much healthier. Because of this enormous health benefit, any construction of a bike path is estimated to have a big positive return. See Health benefits for more details.
Because of these reasons, building a bike path is estimated to have a huge positive return. (source)
Of course, this is only true when it gets used a lot. This is why building ‘good’ bike lanes and connecting them to a network is so important. If a bike lane does not look safe enough or convenient enough, people will not use it. If a bike lane is isolated and not connected to other bicycle infrastructure, it will again not be used.
Another interesting aspect is that the “traffic” in the bike lanes is deceptive. Because bike lanes are much more efficient, the bike lanes will look emptier when there are the same amount of people moving through, compared with cars on the road.
Will it make traffic worse, right?
As we discussed above, bike lanes are way more space-efficient. That means if it gets used, it will reduce the traffic. Let’s assume the case where we are converting one of two car lanes into a bike lane. If we denote the original capacity of each lane X, then the capacity of these two lanes becomes X + 4X = 5X from 2X, increased 2.5 times.
In other words, if we make good bike lanes, it will greatly reduce the traffic.
See other FAQs: - How to overcome common objections to bike lanes
See also Infrastructure, Urban design