Protected bike lanes are good for cyclists — and public health

To the editor: About half of car trips in the U.S. are within easy bicycling distance of three miles, but only about 1% of trips are by bike. There is tremendous potential for biking to reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and carbon emissions while improving health. (“The philosophy that has pitted cars against cyclists for the last 40 years is finally dying,” Opinion, July 12)

Tom Babin makes the case that fear of injury by cars is the main reason people do not cycle, and this is supported by many studies. If fear of injury is the problem, then actually protecting bicyclists from traffic is the solution. And painted lanes or “sharrows” do not protect. 

Los Angeles has made important initial steps toward prioritizing cycling. The next step is to get serious about protecting cyclists with a connected network of separated bike facilities. As more cyclists feel comfortable venturing onto the streets, L.A. will reap the environmental, health and even economic benefits.

James Sallis, San Diego

The writer, a professor of family and preventive medicine at UC San Diego, is a researcher on urban planning and exercise.

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To the editor: There’s a simple and cost-effective way to create the protected bike lanes Babin describes: Use parked cars as safety barriers. 

If bike lanes were striped to the right of parked cars (next to the sidewalk) rather than to the left (next to fast-moving traffic) there would be no need to build physical barriers — it could be done for the cost of paint. 

Santa Cruz already does this; L.A. should too.

Linda Williamson, Granada Hills

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To the editor: Great news! Bicyclists are finally evolving into rational participants of the roadways. Now if someone could only educate them on the meaning of red lights and stop signs. 

Cyclists love to talk about their rights (and rightfully so), but they do not discuss their responsibilities. Instead of “Share the road,” the posted signs should read, “Share the rules of the road.”

The progress has been slow, but we’re getting there.

Roderick Stouch, Santa Monica

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