Bike lanes are not a waste of money

Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

The commissioners claiming that adding cycle lanes to roads is pointless (Painted bike lanes are waste of money, say cycling commissioners, 18 June) are making a serious error in basing this conclusion on measures of how close drivers are to cyclists when overtaking. When there is a separate lane for cycles, the situation is safer as long as cyclists and drivers keep in their respective lanes, and overtaking drivers may go closer to cycles when they overtake because they recognise that the risk is lower (increased safety resulted when lanes were introduced into highways and drivers learnt to stay in their lanes). The only meaningful comparison is of accident rates. But the real problem, as Chris Boardman points out, is spending money on substandard infrastructure instead of doing a proper job.
Prof Brian Josephson

• Any cyclist will be able to give you chapter and verse on bad cycle lanes that lack continuity, disappear in the most critical places or are simply ill-thought out – inevitably designed by someone who doesn’t cycle. But it is simply not true that all cycle facilities are a waste of money.

Many excellent facilities exist in London, Bristol and Manchester (to name a few) of well-designed, continuous, signed bike lanes, contraflow cycle routes (up one-way streets) and advance stop lines, all of which create better conditions for bike riders. At the very least, bike logos and cycle lanes alert car drivers to the presence of bike riders. But the easiest way to make cycling and walking safer is to remove cars, and if that is not possible, to reduce car speeds to 20mph or lower.

Acknowledging that it is people who walk, ride bikes, and drive cars, not amorphous anonymous masses of pedestrians, cyclists or motorists, is also an essential step in creating a sense of shared responsibility for our own safety and – critically – that of others.
Jeremy Iles
Green Future Associates CIC, Bristol

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