Sacramento’s New Protected Bikeways

Bicycling is a great alternative to driving for many people in Sacramento, and many more enjoy biking simply for leisure or exercise. However, bicyclists sharing the road with drivers face significant risks, including severe injuries or even death from collisions with passing cars. These injuries could lead to the need for hiring a bicycle accident lawyer. Luckily, the new protected bikeway project in Sacramento, inspired by initiatives in New York City and other parts of the country, aims to reduce the number of bicycle accidents on California roads.

What Is a Protected Bikeway?

In most metropolitan areas with bike lanes, the bike lane is to the right of the traffic lanes next to parking spaces on the street. The new protected bikeway project effectively switches the positions of street parking spaces and the bike lanes, insulating cyclists from passing traffic. Additionally, since bicyclists would pass parked vehicles on the right in these protected bike paths, there is less of a chance of a person in a parked car opening his or her door directly in the path of a cyclist.

The city plans to create bike lanes protected by rows of vehicle parking spaces, planters, bollards, curbs, or grassy median strips to help limit the number of bicycle accidents in the city. The plan comes on the heels of a 2012 initiative in New York City in which the city created a protected bikeway on 9th Avenue that led to 57% fewer injuries to bicyclists, 29% fewer pedestrian injuries, and a 56% overall reduction in injuries to all street users.

California Bicycle Accident Statistics

The new protected bikeway plan is a step in the right direction for California. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 818 bicyclist fatalities in 2015 and 129 occurred in California. That same year, the California Office of Traffic Safety reported 231 bicyclists killed or injured in Sacramento. Due to the high population of California, it is logical to assume that the state would have more cyclists than most other states, and those cyclists are often traveling through very densely populated metropolitan areas.

Potential Injuries in Bicycle Accidents

The new protected bikeway project aims to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities from bicycle accidents in Sacramento. When a car collides with a bicycle, it is likely the driver will suffer little to no harm while the cyclist sustains catastrophic injuries. A bike accident can cause broken bones, lacerations, crushing injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, and a host of other possible injuries.

Other Benefits of Protected Bikeways

Sacramento city planners are designing several types of protected bikeways to allow for better traffic flow in areas with heavy bike traffic while simultaneously keeping cyclists safer. For example, P Street only has a protected bikeway on the left side of the street because the opposite side sees quite a bit of bus traffic with right side loading. P Street is not wide enough for two protected bike lanes, so consolidating it onto one side of the street with two lanes for bicyclists improves traffic flow without sacrificing safety.

On Q Street, the bikeway on one side of the street helps clear traffic from the other side that sees a lot of eastbound vehicle traffic turning right onto 15th Street. On 10th Street between L Street and I Street, the bikeway is on the right side for similar reasons.

Another benefit of these new bikeways is improved visibility for drivers at intersections. City planners have removed one or two vehicle parking spaces to allow drivers to more easily see at intersections and avoid accidents while simultaneously protecting cyclists.

It is important for all Sacramento bicyclists to remember that while the protected bikeway project is definitely a step in the right direction, it does not mean cyclists should be any less cautious on the road. It is always best to ride with an appropriate helmet and stay alert at all times, even when riding on a protected bikeway.