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Study: Safer Roads for ... Bicyclists(9 posts)

Study: Safer Roads for ... BicyclistsPdxMark
Dec 27, 2001 4:18 PM
A while ago there were questions asked about bicyclist fatality rates, or something like that. Here are excerpts from a study published at, which is "a non-profit research group that tracks these statistics... the group receives funds from road builders, equipment makers and unions,"...

The complete report is at

and includes a table (Appendix A) at the end listing vehicle, bicyclist, and pedestrian fatalities for 50 or so metro areas.

How does your home-city do?

Here are the excerpts:

While approximately 70 percent of rural traffic fatalities occurred on routes with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour or greater, only approximately 30 percent of urban traffic fatalities occurred on routes with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour or greater. In fact, 47 percent of urban traffic fatalities occurred on roads with posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour or less.

· Pedestrians and bicyclists account for approximately one in four of every urban traffic death. Motorists account for 76 percent of traffic deaths and pedestrians account for 21 percent and bicyclists 3 percent.

Steps to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety:

· Install bike lanes on busier routes by adding a paved shoulder or widening the outside lane of four or more-lane roads to 14 feet to accommodate bicyclists safely.

Areas designated for bike use should be maintained free of potholes, pavement joints or other surface irregularities.
bicyclists only 3% of traffic fatalities?guido
Dec 27, 2001 6:43 PM
I was just telling some of my friends that in about 20 years of riding in urban environments, I've never been hit by a car. I have had accidents with pedestrians and other cyclists on bike paths, one of which put me in the hospital for a week.

John Forester says the majority of bicycle accidents are caused by the cyclist not following the rules of the road, doing things like crossing against the light, traveling against traffic, making left turns from the right lane, and generally not riding as "vehicular traffic."

He also advocates shoulders on roadways rather than off-road bikepaths, citing the dangers of mixing pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

So contrary to widespread public opinion, bicycling appears to actually be quite safe as a mode of transportation--but here's the caveat that well-meaning urban planners should make note of--as long as you stay off the bikepaths.
bicyclists only 3% of traffic fatalities?David Feldman
Dec 28, 2001 5:41 PM
I'd like to know a breakdown of cyclist fatalities:
What percent children?
What percent DUI license-less riding unlit, at night, in a blue Levi jacket and a black ballcap?
What percent adult mentally retarded?
Yes, I know these aren't "nice" questions but these are subgroups of bicycle users.
Is this an American study?Ahimsa
Dec 27, 2001 7:03 PM
Is America the only statistical resource here? Or is this world wide data?

Perhaps I should just read it all, eh? Heh heh heh!

Thanks for the post. I enjoy this sort of thing.

3% probably seems a small # because in America there are so few road cyclists, no?

I'd like to see the same figures for other countries.


Dec 27, 2001 8:01 PM
It says the majority of fatalities in American cities studied was motorists or car passengers, which isn't too hard to predict, owing to the speed of auto traffic enabled by expressways and multi-lane thoroughfares.

One could make the case that 3% is probably more than the percentage of people out there riding. But, assuming that cars seldom hit cyclists, and that cyclists wipe out mostly on road debris, pedestrians and other cyclists, one might conclude that really serious injury or death won't happen, due to the considerably lower speeds upon impact. The human organism is not designed for 40mph crashes inside crumbling metal boxes. Falling off a bike at 20mph isn't nearly as traumatic, assuming the head is protected by a helmet.

I'd like to see the stats of motor vehicle-bicycle accidents in large Asian or European cities. I see no reasons why the US will not become more like those cities, given the "new urbanism," "smart growth," mentality increasingly evident. Designing around cars is choking us off, figuratively and literally.
"new urbanism," "smart growth," .....not heresalmonwheel
Dec 28, 2001 11:50 AM
Improvements in Michigan still seemed to be focused on highway access, keeping traffic flowing, and subsidizing urban sprawl.
This is interesting, and not too far off from what I'd expect.Leisure
Dec 28, 2001 1:08 AM
In fact, I would have expected less than %3 of fatalities in the States would be on bikes because so few people here spend any significant amount of time cycling. I wish they would also survey approximate times that the average American spent in each activity, as that would give a better indication of what the actual risks are involved in each. That would be a difficult survey to pull off accurately, but for the States at least I would still expect that your chances of getting seriously injured or killed (per hour spent in each activity) would still be far higher on a bike. Worldwide figures would also be really helpful, so we could compare areas with higher cycling densities and awareness.
re: Study: Safer Roads for ... Bicyclists yeah right....jrm
Dec 28, 2001 9:43 AM
Thing about the study is that its an analysis of urban vs. rural traffic fatalities First.

Ok, higher vehicle speed doesnt mean more accidents. Roads with speeds 55 or over, have limted access (hiways, freeways, major rural and urban arterials). They are designed for cars, trucks and such to travel at higher speeds, for longer distances, between regional nodes. On these roads most other forms of transportation (ped, bicycles) are not supported by design. Movement of the vehicles using these roads is limted to ingress and engress on and off the road while all traffic moves in the SAME direction.

Roads with speeds less than 40 have direct access ( minor rural and urban collectors and throughfares). They are designed for cars, trucks and such to travel at low speeds over short distances within rural and urban nodes. These roads either support peds & bicyclists or just peds by design. Movement of the vehicles, pedestrains and bicyclists using these roads is limited to ONLY going backwards against the flow of traffic meaning they all can move left, right, and across the road. See what this study fails to tell the public is that while design and behavoir do play a part in accidents, its the movement and interaction of vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists along and across the road that cause fatalities.

The installation of, crosswalks, bike lanes, braeakaway this and that, widened shoulders is fine with me. Cross walk "limit lines" mean nothing to drivers. Its just another thing keeping them from getting from point A to point B, like a red light... Also, drivers of cars and trucks traverse accross, park and block bike lanes all the time. I for one have never hit a sign post...yet and hope i never do. But i guess it sounded like a good idea to the senators wives, child avocates, retired generals who NEVER ride and make up the composure of this "organization" doing the study. Wider shoulders are treated about the same way that bike lanes are. In short what ever improvements are made to a street to accompany other traffic modes, and slow vehicular traffic are seen as a hinderance to drivers..thats IT.

Its becasue of this that i say movement along and across a street along with assumption, distraction KILL more design. If you ride in traffic.. ride DEFENSIVELY, dont assume a driver is going to see you, start, stop or turn on demand..expect the unexpected. Also if you see a distracted driver of a vehicle get the FOCK (hows that for PC language?)away from them. have fun and ride safe.

Yup, its a slow ass day at work today. And tis goign to get worse cuz im anticipating getting my bike from the LBS after work so the day should string out real long...right?
...and of that 3%...Rich Clark
Dec 28, 2001 12:23 PM many were riding at night, against traffic, without lights? Or doing something else stupid, like being drunk?

Other studies have shown that experienced vehicular cyclists are statistically the safest road users, safer than motor vehicle operators.

I've got no problem with the paved shoulder or wide-right-lane approach as long as it's accompanied by a campaign that's aimed at educating road users to the fact that bikes are legal on any road not explicitly posted otherwise. The presence of bike lanes often leads to the belief that bikes are legal only where the lanes exist.

As for maintaining these lanes... yeah, that'll happen.