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Madrid Has the Bike Infrastructure Model the U.S. Needs

A happy accident, Madrid may have stumbled onto a bike infrastructure program with great results. Only time will tell if "slow" lanes yield long-term positive results.
August 20, 2020, 7am PDT | Lee Flannery | @leecflannery
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"What would you do if your city built a comprehensive network of generous mobility lanes that were open only to bikes and scooters — but put them in the middle of the roadway, surrounded by fast-moving car traffic on both sides?" asks Kea Wilson. 

In Madrid, vehicular cycling infrastructure is doing just that. Rather than constructing protected bike lanes or painting the streets with new thoroughfares for non-motor vehicles, Madrid implemented "slow" lanes, reducing the once higher-speed lanes of traffic to a more mild 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) per hour to promote biking and alternative modes of transportation. 

Counterintuitively, making space for riders in the middle lanes of vehicular traffic could make them even safer when cycling. We need more data to understand whether the Madrid approach works, says Wilson. 

Madrid saw an increase in bikers, writes Wilson: 

The new lanes were paired with enforcement for drivers who broke the 30 KmPH speed limit in those lanes, as well as a new e-bike share program to encourage would-be riders to conquer the hilly city on two wheels.  in time, the city did experience a gradual increase in the share of bikes on the road, peaking at 6 percent by 2018. (By contrast, fewer than 1 percent of U.S. trips are taken by bicycle.)


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Published on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 in Streetsblog USA
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