Accident rates – cyclists and pedestrians

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I recently posted an article about “Reducing Motor Vehicle Use”. In that post I commented that more cyclists on the road would lead to motorists being more aware of cyclists.

A recent study out of the US is very interesting. Intuitively one would think that increasing the numbers of cyclists and pedestrians in an area would increase the numbers of those people hit by motor vehicles (ie doubling the number of kilometers traveled by cyclists would double the number of collisions).

The study has show that to be a wrong assumption. The rate of such collisions actually goes down with increases in the number of cyclists and pedestrians. Note that the rate goes down (thus the probability of being hit decreases) although the actual collision numbers go up.

Keypoints of the study (quoted directly):

– 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.

– Motorist behavior evidently largely controls the likelihood of collisions with people walking and bicycling.

– Comparison of pedestrian and cyclist collision frequencies between communities and over time periods need to reflect the amount of walking and bicycling.

– Efforts to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety, including traffic engineering and legal policies, need to be examined for their ability to modify motorist behavior.

– Policies that increase walking and bicycling appear to be an effective route to improving the safety of people walking and bicycling.

My conclusion from this is that it is in our best interests as cyclists and pedestrians to do everything we can to encourage others to ride a bike and walk. It will make us all safer. We should also be doing everything we can to encourage our city to make pedestrian and cycling facilities safer, more convenient and attractive in order to increase the numbers of people using them.

The full study can be accessed here:

http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/9/3/205

Look near the top right of the page for “Full Text (PDF)”. You will have to register with the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in order to access the study but there is no charge.

John.

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