More Cyclists = Safer Cycling

Lower cycling fatalities always seem to follow increasing cycling shares. From Tom Vanderbilt’s How We Drive blog:

Over at BikePortland, there were some interesting numbers from the PDOT: “In 2008, there were 140 “traffic injuries” to individuals on bicycles. That’s down from 196 in 2007 and it’s the lowest number since the survey was taken in 1999. The same goes for pedestrian injuries; there were 123 in 2008, down from 191 in 2007. There was also a major drop in the amount of individuals injured while operating an automobile; the survey reports 4,428 injured, compared to 5,429 in 2007.”

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8 Responses to “More Cyclists = Safer Cycling”

  • Fritz says:

    Yep, is true. More butts on bikes is a proven safety measure for cyclists. The number of injuries and fatalities doesn’t rise at nearly the same rate as the number of cyclists.

  • Alan says:

    It’s interesting that injuries to motorists declined as well. Maybe “safer streets” end up being safer for all parties, not just peds and cyclists…

  • Ron Georg says:


    Vanderbilt’s book “Traffic–why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us)” is recommended reading for anyone who uses the roads. It is a fascinating study of the human condition, and it provides some deep insights into the psycology of driving.
    Thanks for recommending his blog; I’ll have to check that out.
    Happy Trails,

    P.S.–I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Adbusters fan; this message is a true opinion, not some sort of spammy marketing plant.

  • Larey says:

    Great timing – on my commute ride home today I was becoming very irritated at the number of drivers using the bike lane as a loading zone, a partial right turn lane, a couple of drivers that simply stopped in the bike lane for who knows what, and any number of drives who drifted over into the bike lane while doing 45 mph.

    I was thinking of writing a letter to the editor along the lines of “It’s not a bicycle lane if..” and then listing all of things that drivers use it for, but then the thought popped in my head “It’s not REALLY a bike lane if there aren’t ever any bikes in them”.

    If there were more riders than just me then the drivers might start honoring the bike lanes.

  • Adrienne says:

    I have seen a huge difference in the way people drive over the last 5 years here in San Francisco. While I can not prove that it is because of increases in bicycling (although there has been a large increase in ridership in the city), I believe quite firmly that the two are connected. When you get in the habit of looking for cyclists, you start to see other things as well-pedestrians, oncoming traffic….

  • Nate Briggs says:

    Adding to the above, I’ll just note that the improvements in safety appear to mainly to involve changes in speed.

    A “cars only” street will tend to be a fast street, since motorists use each other as a reference for velocity.

    Once you start adding other elements – bicycle riders and pedestrians – speeds start to come back down. You will always have a lunatic fringe who want to go faster and faster and faster. But the majority of motorists – who don’t want the legal inconvenience of hitting something slower moving – tend to also slow down.

    This, to me, has always been the true meaning of “critical mass”. Taming motorists does not really require “Amsterdam levels” of ridership. Just a slight increase in the number of riders seems to influence the behavior of traffic on a busy street.

    Nate (Salt Lake City)

  • Rick says:

    Could it be that when motorist also become cyclist that they are more aware of pedestrians?

  • Claiming the streets | Toban Black says:

    […] increasing the presence of bicycles on the street, we not only increase our safety, but we can also begin to normalize bike commuting in public opinion – look at Copenhagen for […]

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