Dedicated Bike Paths Could Save Lives


Sweden’s extensive cycle path networks not only encourage tourism and trade, but also reduce road crashes. Motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists make up 50 percent of road fatalities globally. Sweden already has one of the world’s lowest rates of road deaths; in cities such as Malmö, where two-cycle lanes and raised dedicated paths are the norm, only 16 cyclists from 2003 to 2012 have been killed in an incident involving a car.

Raised bike tracks, such as those in Malmö, are separated from automobile traffic, often with sloped curbs that allow easy transitioning to street level. The bike paths are part of Sweden’s Vision Zero initiative that calls for safer road systems for commuters of all types, and places equal responsibility for road safety on system design and individual road users. As a result, Sweden has achieved one of the lowest traffic-related fatality rates in the world, with only 30 road deaths per million inhabitants in 2014.

Dedicated bike paths offer cyclists of all ages, skill levels, and economic status an attractive and safer alternative. Raised cycling paths encourage safer cycling and minimize crashes during high volume traffic patterns, at intersections, and on streets with curves that present visual obstruction.

The city of Malmö continues to improve cycling conditions by installing railings at red lights and bike traffic counters. The city is also proposing a 12.5-mile bike superhighway connecting the city of Malmö to the college town of Lund. A $7 million supercykelväg proposal includes two cycling lanes in each direction, separation from automobile traffic, and bicycle service stations.

Many cities across the world are following Sweden’s example to reduce crash risk. The city of Seattle in the United States will implement “the three E’s” strategy, focusing on a goal of zero road fatalities and serious injuries through street design (Engineering), increased police involvement (Enforcement), and advocacy for safer streets (Education).

To learn more about the importance of dedicated bike paths in road safety, read TSR’s Expert Panel White Paper “Investing in Road Safety: A Global Imperative for the Private Sector.”