A new study out from the UK’s Cyclists Touring Club demonstrates that where there are more bicyclists on the road, there is a correspondingly lower collision rate. From the Guardian:
Contradicting the notion that a mass of inexperienced riders taking to the streets brings a spike in injuries and deaths, the research by the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC), the UK’s main cycling organisation, rates local authority areas in England on a scale of A to E according to how safe they are.
The trend is clear, with areas popular for cyclists tending to be safer on average, with the differences sometimes significant. Top of the list is traditionally bike-friendly York, where around one in eight commuters cycle to work and 0.1% are badly hurt in accidents each year. Not far down the road, Calderdale, West Yorkshire, a district centred around Halifax, is at the other end of the scale. Here, fewer than 1 in 120 commuters use bikes, and those that do face a danger level 15 times higher than in York.
Of course, it’s a classic chicken or egg scenario; do more people ride in the areas that have better infrastructure and are safer, or do roads become more safe as the numbers of riders increase? My guess is that it’s a bit of both.