A transportation network is a complex thing. Millions of people walking,biking, and driving in all directions, brushing past each other in various weather and light conditions. Even if everyone is doing their very best, and sadly, they aren't always, there's bound to be some serious accidents. Making things worse is that most cities, especially in North-America, are way too car-centric and treat pedestrians and cyclists are second-class citizens. This makes things more dangerous than they have to be...
But it's not the case everywhere.
Portland is one of the shining examples of what can be done to make the streets as safe as possible for everyone. One notable fact is that in 2013, there hasn't been a single cyclist fatality in the city. Michael Andersen at Bike Portlandwrites:
There were several serious collisions, covered here on the site, including one major hit-and-run that remains unsolved. But the number-one reason Portland is the country’s best big city for biking is that this is, compared to any other large U.S. city and lots of the smaller ones, an extremely safe place to ride a bicycle.
This isn’t a new feat for Portland: the city also avoided any bike-related fatalities in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
In a perfect world this wouldn't be impressive, it would just be normal. But we aren't there yet, so kudos to Portland and all the urban planners, activists, and every day commuters who have worked hard day in and day out to make the streets safer for everyone.
Elected officials and urban planners everywhere need to study success stories like Portland, but also Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Groningen, Houten, etc, and import these best practices to their cities.
To celebrate a great 2013, check out some of the great things that Portland has been doing to improve the city:
The full list of bike corral locations in Portland is available here.