Cycling Infrastructure in Washington, DC: Intersection Risk Analysis and Safety Improvements
Brooks, Samuel M
Brandes, Uwe S.
Mayors around the world have set goals for their cities toward the Vision Zero movement to reduce traffic fatalities to zero, but many cities lack the tools and practices to make meaningful progress toward those goals. This paper develops a new model for assessing the safety of cyclists using cycling infrastructure in the city of Washington, DC. When developing plans to improve their transportation networks, U.S. cities are recognizing diversification in the modes used to navigate the urban environment and increased desire for sustainable alternatives to private vehicles. Using data from the District Department of Transportation on cycling accidents, proposed plans for implementation, and first-hand examination of sites, this paper develops a new risk analysis model and uses it to analyze the current design of the city's cycling infrastructure and develop recommendations for improvements needed to increase cyclist safety. This paper discusses the current state of bicycling infrastructure in Washington and established methods of bicycle level of service (BLOS) analysis used to assess infrastructure and finds that 1.) defaulting to guidebook recommendations can result in less than desirable designs, 2.) maintenance of bike lanes must be improved, 3.) a key missing factor to optimum safety of established lanes is enforcement, and 4.) current models for bicycle level of service do not provide enough detail on safety. This paper argues that inadequate attention is paid to the needs of cyclists by drivers and city governments, safety is a fundamental component of true bicycle level of service analyses, designs for bike lanes should not default to guidebook recommendations, and a simple model of intersection risk analysis for cyclists can aid in the identification of infrastructure issues.
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