Cycle tracks — physically separated bicycle-exclusive paths along roads — were associated with improved safety from crashes, lowered crime, and heightened economic development in research conducted in Mexico by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Mexican researchers. The research also revealed that the bike facility designs in a developing nation, such as Mexico, may have to be different from designs in a developed nation. The residents in the city of Morelia who ranked and commented on six different types of bicycle facilities suggested that cycle tracks had to have a high concrete island barrier because a driver could drive over a low barrier and park. The residents also suggested that a bus/bike lane would not be safe in Mexico because the bus drivers might be less watchful for bicyclists.
The study was published online Dec. 22, 2017 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
The idea for the study began when lead author Ines Alveano, then a Ph.D. student in Mexico, contacted Anne Lusk, research scientist in the Department of Nutrition. Alveano had been formulating research about bicycling in Morelia and happened to meet Luis Miranda-Moreno, a professor from McGill who had done research about biking with Lusk and suggested Alveano contact Lusk. Alveano and Lusk began working long-distance on the survey and data collection. Alveano was invited to the Department of Nutrition as a visiting student to analyze the data and prepare the manuscript with Lusk and Maryam Farvid, research scientist in the department.
“Improving conditions for biking in developing countries is an important public health issue, and we were happy to have the opportunity to collaborate with Ines on this study in her home country,” said Lusk.
Read a September 2016 Fox News article: Bike lanes are a sound public health investment
Biking on cycle tracks safer than cycling in the road (Harvard Chan School news)
How can we make biking safer and easier? (Harvard Chan School’s This Week in Health podcast)