Posted in Blog on May 25, 2013
A study out of Europe shows exactly how updated bicycle infrastructure and policies that protect bicyclists can help reduce the risk of injuries involving bicyclists. In several European countries, the population of bicyclists has grown exponentially, but the number of accident fatalities has not increased. Compare that to the United States, where, in many states, any increase in bicycling almost invariably leads to an increase in the number of injuries involving bicyclists.
A new study released by the European Cyclists Federation finds that an increase in bicyclists actually contributes to lower rates of casualties. The report is titled Safety in Numbers, and backs up its claims with solid facts. For instance, in the Netherlands, there has been a 45% increase in bicycling between 1980 and 2005, and a corresponding 58% increase in fatalities during the same period of time. Similar results were seen in London, where there has been a 91% increase in bicycling since 1990, contributing to a 38% decrease in bicycling accident fatalities.
According to experts, when there are more numbers of bicyclists on the streets, motorists become more respectful, and more aware of bicyclists’ rights. It becomes harder for motorists to claim that they weren’t able to spot a bicycle, because they simply weren’t expecting it.
There are lessons here for state transportation agencies here in the United States. There is no denying that European countries have much better biking infrastructure than in the United States and a much less intense auto-centric culture than in any of the major metropolitan cities in the US. While no one expects Americans to ease off on their love of the automobile anytime soon, transportation agencies can at least invest in stronger bicycling infrastructure and inclusive safe streets programs that can help protect bicyclists.