After a series of bike-auto accidents, including several deaths, the city of Portland, Oregon, took action, installing 14 green bike boxes at city intersections to raise driver awareness of cyclists on the road and to ease some of the hostility. The question is, do boxes actually make any real difference? The short answer, according to research done by Portland State University, is no.
"I would say that it is clearly a majority of respondents that perceive an improvement in safety. The observed data are less clear." - Jennifer Dill, Portland State UniversityWhat Dill is implying is that thus far the analysis of the data hasn't revealed a significant reduction in conflicts when a bike box is put in, only a perception that the boxes make the roads safer. Perhaps that perception is based on the fact that that green bit of roadway is simply a good visual that can remind a motorist to look out for a cyclist.
While further research is still being conducted in Portland, other cities, including Long Beach, California, still have high hopes that the addition may make cyclists feel more secure. Is there another alternative or should cyclists be forever confined to sidewalks and park bike paths?Photo (cc) by Flickr user itdp.