Safety in Numbers

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.

Read the full article in the Guardian

3 Responses to “Safety in Numbers”

  • JB says:

    Here’s another quote from the article:

    “While this is a useful guide, we’re also very keen to stress that even the apparently less safe areas aren’t actually unsafe, and that it’s still much better for your health to cycle than not to cycle, wherever you live,” said Chris Peck, the CTC’s policy coordinator. “It’s important that people are not put off cycling.”

    This touches on the earlier bike safety thread: There’s a range of numbers you can get for bike safety, depending on whether you look at hours or miles, whether you look in high use areas or low use areas. However, the whole range is pretty darn safe. It would be nice, and a worthwhile public policy goal, to make it much safer, but even as it is the benefits outweigh the risks.

  • Perry says:

    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?

    Maybe a little of both, but the latter for sure, IMO. We have a scenic road here is horrible for cyclists. It’s narrow, windy, has many blind spots, and has lots of vehicular traffic on weekends. Yet, it is the safest road to ride on. Why? Lots and lots of cyclists ride it every weekend. Cars slow to a crawl until they can pass safely. No horns blowing, no aggressive drivers, no “accidents.” All because anyone who drives on that road expects to see cyclists and adjusts for the reality.

  • Barry says:

    Maybe it is the older and more mature people that are adding to the rise of cyclists usage that contributes to less dangerous riding techniques and thus lower proportional accident rates.

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