This blog is aimed primarily at road bikers, and based on the comments and feedback I get from readers, most fit that description. However, I think it’s also safe to say that lots of road bikers don’t stick exclusively to road riding. They might engage in other types of riding, too, such as commuting or utility biking.
That kind of riding is usually done on city streets, and transportation cycling garners a small share of overall trips — as low as one to three percent in the United States, Canada, the U.K. and Australia. One reason often cited for this is safety. Bicyclists tend to be injured more often in countries where transportation cycling is less common.
A study done in 2008-09 in Canada has gotten some renewed attention here. It’s called the “BICE” study — for “Bicyclists’ Injuries and the Cycling Environment.” The study — of 690 bicyclists who had been hurt in bike crashes — found that the kind of infrastructure available for cyclists is associated with the risk of injuries from bike crashes.
The highest risk infrastructure was a city street with no bike lane and with parked cars. Other high-risk features included train or streetcar tracks, downhill grades, and construction.
Lower-risk features included off-street bike paths, major streets with bike lanes and no parked cars, and residential street bike routes. But the safest bit of cycling infrastructure was the “cycle track.” That’s a segregated bike lane adjacent to a street. They’re not seen much in the United States, but are quite common in the Netherlands.The authors of the study suggest that transportation planners can use the results to help pick cycling structure that will improve safety, and thereby, promote transportation cycling.
The University of British Columbia has a synopsis of the study on its “Cycling in Cities” website, and a complete version of the study can be found as it was published in the American Journal of Public Health.
How is safe cycling infrastructure being incorporated into your area?
The more I’ve commuted in Philly, the more I have an opinion on city planning to include cyclists. Based on the information I’ve received from City Hall, Philly is actively working to include more Safe Cycling features. One of my favorite is the bike lanes on Spruce and Pine – one lane of traffic was converted to be a buffered bike lane. Riding on those streets feels very safe. We also have extensive multi-use paths (which are wonderful but a separate cycle-track would be better to avoid near-misses with runners and pedestrians). My commute spans over 15 miles and includes bike lanes, multi-use paths, and riding on quiet neighborhood streets as well as urban riding (which is very different from suburban riding).