December 21, 2023 2 min read

Seattle, known for its beautiful landscapes and active lifestyle, has seen a surge in cycling as a means of transportation. With more people opting for bikes, the need for safer infrastructure has become paramount. This is where protected bike lanes come into play. But what exactly are protected bike lanes, and how do they improve safety for cyclists?

Protected bike lanes, also known as cycle tracks, are dedicated lanes for cyclists that are physically separated from motor vehicle traffic. They provide a safe space for cyclists to ride, shielded from cars and other vehicles. These lanes are typically separated by physical barriers such as curbs, bollards, or planters, ensuring a clear separation between cyclists and motor vehicles. Additionally, protected bike lanes offer several safety benefits for cyclists. Here are some key advantages:

1. Reduced risk of collisions: By physically separating cyclists from motor vehicle traffic, protected bike lanes significantly reduce the risk of collisions. This separation creates a clear boundary, minimizing the chances of cars veering into the bike lane.

2. Increased visibility: Protected bike lanes often have distinctive markings and signage, making them more visible to both cyclists and motorists. This increased visibility helps drivers anticipate and yield to cyclists, reducing the likelihood of accidents.

3. Improved predictability: With protected bike lanes, cyclists have a designated space to ride, eliminating the need to navigate through traffic. This improves predictability for both cyclists and motorists, reducing the chances of sudden maneuvers or conflicts.

4. Enhanced comfort: The physical separation provided by protected bike lanes creates a more comfortable riding experience for cyclists. They can ride without the constant worry of being in close proximity to fast-moving vehicles, allowing them to focus on the road ahead.

Since 2020, Seattle has been actively investing in the development of protected bike lanes throughout the city. These efforts have yielded positive results in terms of safety and ridership. According to data on accidents involving cars and cyclists, the implementation of protected bike lanes has led to a significant decrease in collisions and injuries.

Studies have shown that cities with well-designed protected bike lanes experience up to a 90% reduction in cyclist injuries. This statistic highlights the effectiveness of protected bike lanes in creating a safer environment for cyclists.
Furthermore, the presence of protected bike lanes has also contributed to an increase in cycling as a mode of transportation. People feel more confident and secure when there are dedicated lanes that prioritize their safety, leading to a higher number of cyclists on the road.

Protected bike lanes are a crucial component of creating a safer and more accessible cycling infrastructure in Seattle. By providing a physical separation between cyclists and motor vehicles, these lanes significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. The implementation of protected bike lanes in Seattle has already shown promising results, with a decrease in collisions and an increase in cycling as a mode of transportation. As the city continues to prioritize the safety of cyclists, the expansion of protected bike lanes will undoubtedly play a vital role in shaping a more bike-friendly Seattle.

A list of current projects can be found here.