I wrote about lane width before. My interest in studying lane width are two folds. First of all, we can create space for protected bicycle lanes if we can narrow down some of the wider lanes. Second, reduce lane-width can lead to safer roads for all road users, including drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
In 2014 there were 278,545 cases of speeding violation. That’s equivalent to 762 speeding per day! New evidence shows this is largely due to the fact that many of our lanes are too wide and feel “too slow” if one drive within the speed limit (50km/h). It is a well known and well documented fact that speeding increases the risk of the driver and other road users tremendously. The conventional wisdom of “wider lane is safer” should be questioned.
A detail study by Toronto Transport Planner (Dewan Masud Karim) suggested that the optimally safe lane-width is between 3~3.2 meters. He compared the lane dimension, driving speed and crash records between Toronto, and Tokyo. He discovered humans display a surprisingly narrow “safety comfort zone” while trying to achieve a dynamic equilibrium status within the travel lane width:
Both narrow (less than 2.8m) and wide (over 3.1~3.2m) lanes have proven to increase crash risks with equal magnitude. Safety benefits bottom out around 3.1m (for Tokyo) and 3.2m
(for Toronto). Beyond the “safety valley curve”, wider lanes (wider than 3.3m) adversely affect overall side-impact collisions.
If we follow his recommendation to adjust our lane-width to 3~3.1 meters, we will be able to create protected bicycle lanes in many areas. Below are some locations that we can create space for protected bicycle lanes AND makes the roads safer:
– Toa Payoh Lorong 2:
Current status: 2 lanes each direction, total 7.29 meters.
Possible future: 2 lanes each direction, total 6 meters, creates additional 1.29 meter to existing pavement for protected bicycling/walking.
– Geyland East Ave 2:
Current status: 2 lanes 2 directions, total 11.1 meters.
Possible future: 2 lanes 2 direction, total 6.4 meters, creates additional 4.7 meters to existing pavement for protected bicycling/walking. (2.35 meter each direction)
– East Coast Road (north side)
Current status: 2 lanes, total 8.15 meters
Possible future: 2 lanes, total 6.2 meters and creates additional 1.95 meters to existing pavement for protected bicycling/walking. .
– Circuit Road
Current status: 3 lanes, total 12.25 meters
Possible future: 3 lanes, total 9.3 meters and creates additional 2.95 meters to existing pavement for protected bicycling/walking, enough on both sides of circuit road!
– Simei Street 1
Current status: 1 lane, 5.2 meter each direction
Possible future: 1 lane, 3.2 meter each direction, and creates additional 2 meters to existing pavement for protected bicycling/walking.
The list just go on. To find out more opportunities, just check this google map containing the lane width measurement in various parts of Singapore.
Many years ago, in 2003, there was a debate in the parliament between MP Irene Ng and the then Minster of State for Transport, Dr Balaji Sadasivan. I remember one of the point made by Dr. Sadasivan was that “in land scarce Singapore, there is no space for bicycle”. I believe today, with LTA taking up the leadership role of Active Transport, we will be able to see more opportunities for creating safe space for cycling on existing roads space.
Link to the Lane-width study by Toronto Transport Engineer: