Friday, October 15, 2010

More Proof that There's Safety In Numbers For Cyclists

bikes in china photo

Two years ago Lloyd Alter wrote For Bicylists, There is Safety in Numbers noting the work of Chris Rissel, who said "It appears that motorists adjust their behavior in the presence of increasing numbers of people bicycling because they expect or experience more people cycling."

Last year Lloyd asked Is there "safety in numbers"? and quoted Peter Jacobson's 2003 study that concluded that "Where, or when, more people walk or bicycle, the less likely any of them are to be injured by motorists. There is safety in numbers."

Now cycling activist Elly Blue follows up on Grist with more recent data, and notes how the theory is catching on.
new york stats
Graph of the Day: Bike Ridership and Casualties
Ms. Blue explains why it works:
When there are a lot of bicyclists on the road, according to this theory, drivers take notice. They become more attentive, slow down, pass more cautiously, double-check their blind spots, expect the unexpected. They sense that the road has become a more complicated place, and adjust their behavior accordingly. As a result, the road becomes safer, presumably for everyone.
She concludes:
Safety in numbers will prove over time, I suspect, to be the first major theory based on objective data that can break down the double standard we all pedal under. Jacobsen's research calls into question the foundation of a system in which the convenience of driving is exalted above the basic safety and mobility of people walking and bicycling.
More in Grist
bicycle-data.jpg
Click to enlarge Portland study PDF
Cycleicious picks up the story and notes that the data in San Jose, California confirm the theory:
The number of cyclists on the road quadrupled in San Jose California between 2005 and 2008. You'd maybe expect a quadrupling in the number of cyclist fatalities as well, especially since all of those new cyclists are inexperienced and maybe tend to crash more. We see about two to six cyclist fatalities each year in all of Santa Clara County (which encompasses sevens time the area of the city of San Jose) In spite of the huge and visible increase in bikes in San Jose and environs.... there wasn't a corresponding increase in cyclist fatalities.
In Toronto, all the leading candidates for mayor are competing with each other to get rid of bike lanes and get the bikes out of the way, and the front runner says "My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day."

All the data show that he is completely wrong, that it is not the cyclists own fault, and that the more cyclists there are, the safer everybody is.

3 comments:

  1. What you should do, my friend, is come over here to beijing and cycle around a bit. This place is nuts. There are absolutely no rules....and that's I think what makes it safer for cyclists. Everyone: pedestrians, car drivers, horse-cart drivers, cyclists, scooter riders are constantly aware of who is hurtling out of nowhere to hit them. Brian and I rode around a bit this weekend, and despite several gasps of fright, I enjoyed myself. What's great is that they have a whole lane just for cyclists. And scooters. And carts. And the occasional car. Because there are no rules, of course.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Send me some pictures. I would love to see what they have over there. I am still waiting for my name to be called to take my turn over there. Glad to hear that you are getting to bike over there and that you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For 2012, our goal is to convince President sexcam
    Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, but we don't seem to be many improvements in this area now supports basic multitasking.

    Take a look at my page - sex cam

    ReplyDelete