Safety in numbers

Road accidents reduced when cyclists come out in force

“A community that doubles its cycling numbers can expect a drop of a third in the per-cyclist frequency of a crash with a motor vehicle,” says research from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

The study shows that motorists seem to take greater account of cyclists when bike users are a more common sight on the roads. The researchers say this effect is independent of bike-friendly improvements such as lower vehicle speed limits or more bike paths.

The review of safety studies from Australia, Europe and the USA suggests that one good thing will lead to another – the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people will be prepared to cycle. With more cyclists on the road there’s an increase in drivers who are also bike users, making them better aware of fellow biker’s needs.

One of the researchers stressed that transport authorities should also highlight the positive aspects of cycling rather than dwell on the dangers which deter potential cyclists. For example the authorities could promote how, statistically speaking, cycling extends life expectancy and increases fitness.

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