Do bike lanes really keep cyclists safer?

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NEW YORK (CBS) Last month, a 30-year-old woman was killed riding her bike in New York. Police say the cyclist swerved when the door of a parked van opened and she rode into the path of a tractor-trailer that hit her.

The number of people riding bicycles in urban areas is on the rise and so are accidents. Hundreds of riders are killed every year in traffic accidents and deaths are up 25 percent since 2010.

In response, cities have been building more protected bike lanes that separate riders from traffic, with barriers like parked cars or posts. A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at how effective they are.

Lead researcher Jessica Cicchino says lanes completely separated from traffic, like a greenway, are the safest. But risk grows as riders interact with cars.

"We found that protected bike lanes that had a lot of intersections crossing them or a lot of alleys or driveways tended to be the riskiest, as well as two-way protected bike lanes that were along two-way streets," Cicchino said. "And those can be challenging for drivers to turn across."

Devon Ahmed, who rides a bike regularly, is very familiar with this problem.

"I have been hit four or five times in the last year and a half by vehicles turning left," she said.

James Verdesoto rides his bike to work and says pedestrians can also cause crashes.

"A lot of people are not aware that they're walking in bike lanes, and a lot of people are on their cellphones," he said.

The study found overall there were fewer injuries on the old-fashioned painted lanes but that's because they're usually in less hazardous areas.

"It seems that overall, protected bike lanes are doing a good job at preventing the worst kinds of injuries that we're seeing," Cicchino said.

Researchers say cities need to consider where they put protected bike lanes to ensure bike riders stay safe.