It may be reasonable to assume that as the popularity of an activity increases, the risks and accidents associated with that activity would increase. With cycling —whether that be in Utah, around the United States, or worldwide— the opposite is true. In fact, as the number of cyclists increases the total number of bicycle accidents decreases, and not just the number of accidents per cyclist.
The Data on “Safety in Numbers”
A recent New York City Study reveals evidence for the claim that more cyclists leads to increased safety. This simple graph shows the number of bicycle riders compared with bicycle casualties. As the number of riders dramatically increased from 2002-2008, the number of casualties over the same time period plummeted.
Another easy point of reference is to compare the rates bicycle casualties/cyclists of the U.S. and European nations. One study found the following:
The Netherlands has witnessed a 45% increase in cycling from 1980-2005 and a 58% decrease in cyclist fatalities.
In comparison with countries such as the Netherlands, the United States has a much lower concentration of bike riders, while continuing to have a much higher casualty and accident rate. In the US, only 1% of all transportation trips are performed with a bicycle; Utah has an even lower percentage than the national average.
Why is there such a significant correlation between more cyclists and greater safety?
According to recent research by the CTC (Cyclists Touring Club), a leading cause for the increase in safety is improved driver awareness. With so many cyclists, motorists have become much more accustomed to seeing, avoiding, and safely driving alongside cyclists. Motorists are also much more likely to be cyclists themselves, and can therefore empathize with other riders when behind the wheel.
Recent Research by the UK’s CTC suggests that:
“A doubling of cycling would lead to a reduction in the risks of cycling by around a third.”
An increase in the number of cyclists in a given area has been shown to put pressure on local legislation to further ensure a safer riding experience. A recent Portland Study showed the correlation between an increase in the number of cyclists and the creation of the following new safety measures (further increasing bike safety)
- greater number of bike lanes
- modifying bridges and other transportation structures for more bicycle accommodations
- tighter speed limits, especially for inner cities
- penalties and enforcement of bicycle safety laws
Christensen and Hymas advocate safe cycling. Being cyclists themselves, they emphasize the great benefit cycling can be for health, enjoyment and the environment, but that safety precautions should always be maintained. If you or someone you know have been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, feel free to call 801.506.0800 to speak to our knowledgeable staff. Let us worry about the legal fees to ensure you are fully compensated while you focus on the healing process.
If you wish to further inform yourself on the laws in Utah for bicycle injury compensation, Christensen and Hymas also offer “The Utah Bicycle Accident Handbook” for free.
Photo Courtesy of Cycling Scotland