Study to measure impact of protected bike lanes

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Bikes Belong and Portland State University team on groundbreaking research

A new research study is underway at Portland State University (PSU), designed to measure the societal impact of next-generation protected bike lanes, called green lanes. Green lanes are dedicated, inviting spaces for people on bikes in the roadway, protected from cars and separated from sidewalks.

Lessons from the Green Lane, a Comprehensive Evaluation of Protected Cycling Facilities, is collecting quantitative data to examine ridership, safety, and the economic impact of green lanes in six major U.S. cities. The study, which kicked off in September 2012, will run through December 2013.

Because green lanes are relatively new in the U.S., more data is essential to determine their impact on society: Do they encourage more people to ride? Are they safe? How do they affect local businesses, drivers and pedestrians? This study will be the most extensive research project to date on these designs and will provide quantitative answers to these imperative questions.

The researchers will rely on video data collection in each of the cities – Austin, Texas, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, and Washington, DC. They will also design and implement surveys to develop their analyses.

The Bikes Belong Foundation’s Green Lane Project is helping to fund the research through a $75,000 pass-through grant from the Summit Charitable Foundation, an environmentally-focused philanthropic organization based in Washington, D.C. The Green Lane Project works with the six leading cities to catalyze the creation of world-class bicycling facilities in the U.S.

At PSU, Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) researchers Chistopher Monsere, Jennifer Dill and Kelly Clifton are leading the research.

“I’m thrilled to be entrusted with this opportunity to evaluate the progress and the trajectory of a next-generation trend: growing green lane infrastructure,” said Monsere. “We look forward to collaborating with the Green Lane Project to identify and ensure best practices, so that these bike facilities are reaching their full potential and intended use.”

In addition to the funding from the Summit Charitable Foundation, the research study has received $160,000 from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, $20,000 from the Bikes Belong Foundation and in-kind support from Green Lane Project cities to complete the study.

“Through the Summit Charitable Foundation’s support and PSU’s expertise, the Green Lane Project will have access to the most concrete data gathered since the project launched in May 2012,” said Martha Roskowski, director of the Green Lane Project. “We’re looking forward to seeing additional quantitative evidence of the benefits of green lanes for cities.”

A comprehensive report of the study findings will be released in January 2014. Results and feedback based on this study will help to determine the trajectory of the Green Lane Project, after two years in operation.