Transportation

Cycling: Safety in Numbers

By RTH Staff
Published June 05, 2009

It's really a straightforward relationship. If you build more continuous cycling infrastructure, more people will use their bicycles. If more people use their bicycles, the injury rate goes down:

New data now reveals that there are 185,000 daily cyclists in New York City, an increase of more than one third from just four years ago. This staggering surge is not only a testament to the infrastructure improvements that have been implemented in the last couple of years, but also a contributing factor to the increased safety of cyclists throughout the city.

It's a well established fact that for bikers there is safety in numbers. With more cyclists out and about, more drivers are accustomed to sharing the road. In fact, cycling in New York City is safer now than it has been at any time in recent memory

As the number of cyclists goes up, the actual number of injuries (not just the rate) is going down:

Bicycle Ridership and casualties in NYC, 1998-2008 (Image source: Transalt)
Bicycle Ridership and casualties in NYC, 1998-2008 (Image source: Transalt)

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By David (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2009 at 08:45:51

This echoes the findings of a recent study conducted in Britain which also found that areas with the most cyclists had the lowest accident rates. See here for the coverage: www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/may/07/cycling-safety-york-calderdale

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2009 at 13:26:36

This also echoes what I have been saying for years (http://raisethehammer.org/index.asp?id=608) and is one of the reasons I am against all barriers to cycling, including mandatory helmet laws, licensing, "safety blitzes" that target stop sign running cyclists, etc... anything done under the guise of cyclist safety which also acts as a barrier to cycling actually makes biking less safe.

Lets all get out there and pedal!

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2009 at 19:25:26

Does anyone know if the overall accident rate (ie., cars smashing each other or cars smashing pedestrians) goes down with the number of cyclists?

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By rideyerbike (registered) | Posted June 08, 2009 at 01:07:38

I recently had an argument with a friend who insisted that the safest way to cycle was with complete aberrance of traffic laws. Basically, he argued that cars don't respect, are unwilling to accept, or don't know how to respond to cyclists as fellow road users and therefore cyclists should "fend for themselves" as road users completely independent of other traffic and traffic laws. That way, he argued, drivers will view cyclists as being inherently erratic and unpredictable and thus give them more space and approach them with greater caution. I argued that this would only lead to a continued lack of respect for cyclists from drivers and greater animosity between these different road users. Not to mention the fact that you could get smoked by a car who (because of your erratic riding) doesn't see you coming. Then again, perhaps he has a point...? Nevertheless, I would far rather see better cycling infrastructure such as dedicated bike lanes that make it safer and more attractive for cyclists to get our and share the road with cars, thus bringing about a greater critical mass of cyclists on the streets, which then bring about greater safety. On that note, Hamilton has a LONG way to go to make this a more bicycle friendly city. Currently some of our bike lanes are nothing short of laughable, like the 100m stretch of bike lane that randomly starts just before the rail bridge on Aberdeen (heading west) before abruptly ending shortly after, spitting cyclists out onto a narrow and busy arterial. ...and what's with the lack of bike racks in Hamilton?! I remember biking around downtown in mid January, minus 10 degrees, looking for a place to lock up my bike so I could attent a job interview. Failing to find a bike rack nearby, I ended up locking it up to a sign post half burried beneath a snow bank! end rant.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted June 08, 2009 at 09:20:42

A horn bell or a gong?? I want a gong for my bike..one of those big Chinese looking ones from the kung fu movies that you can hit with a giant mallet lol.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2009 at 16:21:14

The same can be said for automobiles. So lets start building more roads and get that mid-penn highway underway already!

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By arienc (registered) | Posted June 09, 2009 at 09:30:12

Capitalist > The same can be said for automobiles. So lets start building more roads and get that mid-penn highway underway already!

Source please?

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted June 11, 2009 at 20:11:50

Get it on..

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