Friday, September 12, 2008

Bike Accidents Decline As Ridership Rises

An article from Wired: Autopia

More bicycles on the road means more chances for drivers yakking on cell phones or stuffing McFood in their mouths to hit one, right? Wrong.

According to a study by researchers at the University of New South Wales, the number of collisions decreases as the number of bicycles in traffic increases. It sounds like a paradox, they say, but motorists are more likely to drive carefully and respectfully when there are more cyclists on the road.

"It's a virtuous cycle," says Dr Julie Hatfield. "The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle."

The researchers say studies in several countries have shown the incidence of motorists colliding with cyclists or pedestrians actually declines as more people ride or walk. The reason, they say, is simple -- the more cyclists motorists see, the more aware they are of cyclists in general and more safely they drive.

"It's a positive effect but some people are surprised that injury rates don't go up at the same rate of increases in cycling," he says. "It appears that motorists adjust their behavior in the presence of increasing numbers of people bicycling because they expect or experience more people cycling. Also, rising cycling rates mean motorists are more likely to be cyclists, and therefore be more conscious of, and sympathetic towards, cyclists."

The findings run counter to conventional thinking, which holds that more cyclists means more chances for collisions. While the numbers do increase in absolute terms, a city that doubles its cycling numbers can expect a one-third drop in the per-cyclist frequency of a crash.

When that news gets out, it could create a long-term cyclist friendly cycle: If people perceive biking to be safe, more of them will do it. More cyclists means better motorist behavior and greater likelihood of communities passing bike friendly laws, further proving H.G. Wells was right when he said cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.

Photo by Flickr user swankalot.

Makes sense to me. Are you getting your friends to ride more?
We're pretty fortunate in the fact that we live in a fairly bicycle friendly city. (Although there was that one year when 3 BCR members got hit by cars.)

As far as the above picture goes....helmets people!

1 comment:

  1. I knew this was going to happen! Yes - the best thing about all the newbie commuters is that more people finally realize what it's like out on the roads. Spreading the word will help.

    In other news... Grizz, sorry for the insensitive pingpongplaya beat down - really! You stole my line, i.e. "You will not beat me", and my idiot competitiveness kicked in. I intended to slow it down and have fun after the first game, but we quit. Not well played on my part!

    To whom it may concern... I am not a blogger. I do not have a Google blogger account and I don't want one. For those that have blogs and do not allow anonymous comments, I am offended that I can't post. :(


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