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California ahead of the curve with protected bike lanes

One California city has followed the tradition in the Netherlands for establishing protected intersections for bicyclists to decrease the risk of them being struck by cars that are turning. Earlier this month, Davis, California, unveiled America's first protected intersection.

The reason behind the intersections is clear. Bike lanes that are separated physically from the road with a barrier have reduced death and injury rates for cyclists. Yet even with those protections in place, bike riders have to cross intersections beside traffic, even though statistics indicate most collisions happen in intersections from cars turning into the cyclists.

The protected intersections have separate channels for riders. This also makes drivers more aware of bikes and pedestrians when they turn.

The protected intersection has islands in the corners so riders proceeding straight ride to the islands' right side. The shape of the islands causes cars turning right to encounter the cyclists straight ahead. No more need to look over shoulders to see cyclists — drivers are able to see them right in front of them.

Pedestrians are also more visible to drivers with these islands and now have shorter distances to cross the street. Because of the islands, cars have to turn slower, which also lowers the collision risk for cyclists.

The new intersections give bike riders a better option for making left turns. They still can merge to the turning lane, going left across the intersection as the cars do, but now can proceed through the intersection like a pedestrian. Then, when the light turns green, they can cross it perpendicularly.

Despite these progressive changes for cyclists, wrecks can and do occur. If you are injured in a bicycle wreck, your recuperation may be long and your rehabilitation expensive. Taking civil action against the at-fault driver can help you get through this difficult period.

Source: Vox Transportation, "This California city just built the country's first protected intersection for bikes," Joseph Stromberg, Aug. 12, 201

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