Bike paths reduce injuries: study. (Montreal Gazette)
This study is another reason why Cote Saint-Luc needs to develop a cycling network to connect our municipality to the rest of the Montreal network. Plans are now underway to launch the CSL CYCLE initiative this spring. More to follow.
Bike paths reduce injuries: study
BY MICHELLE LALONDE, GAZETTE ENVIRONMENT REPORTER
FEBRUARY 10, 2011
MONTREAL – The risk of injury for cyclists riding on Montreal bike paths is about 28 per cent lower than for cyclists riding on comparable Montreal roads unprotected from traffic, according to a new study published in an international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals.
That riding on separated bike paths is safer than riding in traffic may seem obvious, but there is growing debate in the United States and in some Canadian cities about whether bike paths provide a false sense of security and therefore increase risk, especially at intersections where cyclists are unprotected.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has published a “Guide for the development of bicycle facilities,” which cautions against building two-way paths along, but physically separated from, a parallel road.
The Montreal-based study, done jointly by researchers from McGill, Harvard and Northeastern universities as well as the Universite de Montreal and Montreal’s public health department, was published Wednesday in the Injury Prevention Journal. The study concludes that cycle paths encourage cycling and they lessen, or at least do not increase, crash and injury rates. The construction of cycle paths should not be discouraged in urban areas, the researchers conclude.
The study looked at six physically separated bicycle-exclusive paths, or “cycle tracks”, along Montreal roads (Brebeuf St. between Rachel St. and Laurier Ave., Rachel between St. Urbain and Marquette Sts., Berri St. between Cherrier and Viger Aves., de Maisonneuve Blvd. between Claremont and Wood Aves., Christophe Colomb Ave. between Gouin Blvd. and Jarry St., and Rene Levesque Blvd. between de Lorimier Ave. and St. Hubert St.). Some of these are separated from traffic by raised medians, others by parking lanes or delineator posts.
These were compared with one or two parallel reference streets without cycle tracks that could be considered as alternative routes for cyclists. The reference streets had approximately the same number of intersections, traffic volume and speeds, cross traffic and heavy vehicles.
Overall, 2.5 times as many cyclists used the cycle track streets compared with the reference streets.
For example, Berri between Cherrier and Viger, which has a cycle track, was compared to the same stretch of St. Denis, which does not. Along that 1.4-kilometre stretch over a two-hour period, 763 bikes used the Berri cycle track, while 134 used St. Denis.
Data on injuries were gathered from emergency medical response services between April 1, 1999 and July 31, 2008 for the cycling season (April 1 to Nov. 15). There were 74 injuries reported during that nine-year period on Berri and 27 on St. Denis. Relative risk was then analyzed, taking into account the different levels of use by cyclists, and Berri was found to be 48 per cent as risky as St. Denis.
McGill civil engineering professor Luis Miranda-Moreno, one of the study’s authors, said it shows Montreal is right to provide cycle tracks, but could improve their design to reduce injury rates. “We now have some numbers to show (the city of Montreal) is doing something right, (but) this doesn’t mean there is nothing more to do,” he said.