Protected Bike Lanes Increase Safety, Save Money And Protect The Planet, New Report Finds

“Bicycle lanes reduce GHG emissions as effectively as highways create them,”

Investing in networks of protected bicycle lanes has significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower transport costs, prevent road fatalities, and improve the quality of life for people in cities around the globe.

Those are the highlights of a new study released last month that focuses on the benefits of cycling as a safe, affordable, accessible, low-carbon mode of transportation.

“Urban cycling is an often overlooked element of urban transport planning, but this report shows it can unlock climate, environmental, and health benefits,” Sheila Watson, deputy director of the FIA Foundation, said in a statement.

Protected Bicycle Lanes Protect the Climate ” was developed by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s global Cycling Cities campaign and supported by the FIA Foundation.

“It is extraordinary to see that dollar-for-dollar, protected cycle lanes are not just carbon neutral but fully mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions created when the same amount of spending goes on highways,” Watson added. “The case for investment in cycling is not just good financial sense, it is essential for healthier, safer and more equitable cities.”

The report found that networks of protected bicycle lanes in middle-income cities are a cost-effective way of reducing emissions compared to other approaches to decarbonizing transportation. “These networks create more economic value annually than they cost to build, given the transportation cost savings and the public health benefits of increased exercise” and outperform all other infrastructure developments.

Researchers examined the impacts of the extensive networks in Bogotá, Colombia and Guangzhou, China. They estimated that these networks:

  • deliver the equivalent benefits of planting 300,000 to 400,000 new trees every year
  • mitigate almost exactly the same amount of GHG emissions per year created by highway development when comparing dollar-for-dollar spending
  • provide quantifiable economic benefits, paying for themselves in less than a year
  • lead to a ten-fold emissions reduction per dollar spent on infrastructure compared to the development of metro rail systems

According to the report, Bogotá’s network cost an estimated 132 million USD to build, saves travelers 80 million USD per year, and prevents 300 deaths per year — providing an economic value of 230 million USD, for a benefit of 310 million USD per year in total.

The estimate did not include many other economic benefits of cycling, researchers noted.

The report includes a free, user-friendly modeling tool to predict the associated costs and the climate benefits of investing in protected lane networks (available to download here in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets).

“Cities need to be designed for the well-being, safety, and health of people. Having robust networks of protected cycle lanes is key to ensuring more sustainable and inclusive urban mobility,” Heather Thompson, chief executive of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, said in a statement.

“This report presents crucial evidence that extensive networks of protected lanes lead to more cycling, which in turn helps to reduce GHG emissions by reducing cars on the road.,” Thompson said. “Now is the moment for governments and financiers to ensure that more protected cycle lane networks are built as a fast, affordable solution to climate change. The evidence is here – the time to act is now.”

For more information, click here. For the full report, click here.

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