The Effect of Cycle Lanes on Cycle Numbers and Safety
Marked on-road cycle lanes are a relatively inexpensive means of providing for cycling; however, their use in New Zealand has been questioned both in terms of their safety and their effectiveness in attracting more people to take up cycling. While both questions have been previously researched locally, the findings have been rather inconclusive.
A recent Engineering Masters research project investigated the relative effects on cycle count and crash numbers of installing a series of cycle lanes. Twelve routes installed in Christchurch during the mid-2000s were analysed, together with some control sites. Cycle count data from a series of route locations and dates were used to establish cycling trends before and after installation. These were also compared against cycle crash numbers along these routes during the same periods.
The results generally show no consistent "step" increase in cycling numbers immediately following installation of cycle lanes, with some increasing and decreasing. Changes on cycling growth rates were more positive, although it is clear that other wider trends such as motor traffic growth are having an effect. Taking into account the relative changes in volumes and controls, the study also found notable reductions in cycle crashes following installation, typically with a 23% average reduction in crash rates.