More bikes = safer streets?
Research continues surfacing that shows that the more bicyclists and pedestrians out on the roads, the safer the roads become. It may seem like the opposite should be true. That more people on the roads would lead to more crashes. But safety in numbers holds true for bicycling and walking, too.
Here's what an article on the Liveable Streets blog summarizes from a 2003 research paper:
*The likelihood of injury to a pedestrian or bicyclist in 68 California cities decreased as the percent of commuters walking or bicycling increased.
*A study of walking, bicycling, and moped use in 47 Danish towns found that walking was safer where there were more walkers and bicycling/moped use was safer where these modes were higher.
*The number of bicyclist fatalities per distance bicycled in 14 European countries decreased as the distance of bicycling per capita increased.
*In 8 European countries where data were available, the number of bicycling and pedestrian fatalities each decreased as per capita biking and walking trips increased, respectively.
*In Britain, bicycling varied up and down with different factors, such as the Arab Oil Embargo and new traffic speed laws, from 1950 to 1999. Whenever bicycling increased, per capita bicycling fatalities decreased, and the inverse was also true.
*In the Netherlands, where bicycling facilities and traffic law changes from 1980 to 1998 have greatly increased the amount of bicyclists and bicycle mileage, per capita bicycle fatalities have fallen equally dramatically.
Some researchers are coining the phenomenon a "virtuous cycle" and pointing to familiarity and empathy as two of the key reasons safety increases. So what do you think? With Portland's explosion in cyclists do you think its safer out there?