Safety in Numbers: Biking Is Safest in Nations With the Most People on Bikes
Countries with high cycling rates also have low rates of fatalities per
distance biked. Graph: International Transport Forum [PDF
th-and-safety_9789282105955-en#page118> ] via Amsterdamize
The more people get around by bike, the safer it is, according to the
<http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/9/3/205.abstract> "safety in
numbers" rule first popularized by researcher Peter Jacobsen.
This chart from the International Transport Forum [PDF
th-and-safety_9789282105955-en#page118> ] shows how the safety in numbers
effect plays out at the national scale. As you can see, biking is safer in
the countries where people bike the most.
There was, however, some variation country to country. The report noted that
Korea's cycling fatality rates were greater than what its biking rates would
suggest. Researchers speculated that might be due to a rapid recent growth
in cycling. Perhaps, they write, "neither cyclists nor other transport
participants have had time to assimilate each other's presence."
Meanwhile, in some nations with high cycling rates, biking has become even
safer over time. That was the case in Denmark, where cycling rates have been
high but fairly stable for the last decade, but fatality rates have dropped
40 percent during the same period.
The safety in numbers has been observed at the scale of cities too.
Recently, for example, bicycle injury rates in Minneapolis have declined
minneapolis-bike-crash-data/> as total ridership has risen. The same trend
has played out in New York
c/> , as cycling has increased while total injuries and fatalities have not.
Do more people on bikes cause cycling to become safer, or does safer
infrastructure attract more people to bike? There's no conclusive evidence
either way, but the answer is probably a mix of both. Safer infrastructure
entices more people to ride, and more people riding instill greater
awareness on the part of motorists and increase the demand for safer
A model for Stephen Avenue? How a "complete street" works in the real world
There’s a buzzphrase about urban transportation these days. “Complete streets.” You’ve heard it. Cites are making it their goal to change many roads from the way they exist now, basically as smooth delivery platforms for cars, into something that works for everyone, not just drivers.
For many people, myself included, this always seemed like a nice notion that was difficult to visualize. Does it mean adding bike lanes? Expanding sidewalks? More space for street hockey? I think a lifetime in Canada made it difficult for me to truly understand what a complete street was supposed to be. That’s probably why I’ve been, like many Calgarians, nervously anticipating plans to introduce bikes onto Calgary’s pedestrian-only Stephen Avenue Walk later this year, worried about conflicts and potential accidents.
After attending the third Winter Cycling Congress in the Netherlands recently, I can officially say I now get what a complete street really is. I was invited to speak at the event (full disclosure: organizers paid for my plane ticket to attend), which took place in Leeuwarden, a northern city of about 100,000 people that may be most famous as the birthplace of Mata Hari. But what I’ll remember most is seeing a complete street in action. Of course, nobody there called it a complete street. It was just a street. But the way people used the road was a real eye-opener.
This idea didn’t exist on all of the roads. The fast and busy multi-lane roads and highways didn’t look much different than those in North America, except for the presence of weird brands of North American cars (Ford Ka? Wha?), and of course, for the ever-present cycle tracks and bike routes running alongside. You know the Dutch and their bikes. But on roads with slower speeds and less traffic, that separation was thrown out the window. Onto the road, everybody mixed. I mean everybody. People on bikes, cars, trucks, mopeds, strollers. And what was perhaps most surprising to me: they did this on streets nearly devoid of road signage.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Great idea, hippie. Throw everybody together with no rules and somebody’s gonna get killed.” I thought the same thing, especially the first time a car squeezed past me as I strolled down the middle of the road pulling my suitcase. But after a few hours in the city, I got used to the idea, felt safe, a little exhilarated (in a city-nerd kind of way) and I realized that people approached the road in a fundamentally different way. It’s almost as if the idea of a road was different.
Rather than fighting for space, with signage and a handbook telling everyone how to behave, people simply got along. I’m reluctant to say they “shared” the road, because of all the connotations that term has picked up in recent years, but that really was how people behaved. Drivers went slow, and manoeuvred around the eye-popping number of cyclists. Moped drivers slowed (most of the time) for pedestrians. Delivery trucks backed up in the middle of a street, and people simply went around. As one Dutch delegate to the conference said: “It’s based on relationships instead of rules.” What he meant was that people on the street made their way around by communicating with the people around them, with eye contact and social cues and body language. That’s a high falutin’ way of saying that people were just being people.
The roads seemed to function based on patience and respect as well. At one point, a large group of delegates gathered in the middle of the road for a photo and traffic in both ways stopped and, amazingly, waited. Us North Americans felt sheepish about stopping cars and were cringing in anticipation of an assault of car horns that never came. The Dutch carried on arranging people for the photo as if they, well, owned the road.
This doesn’t always work. Near the NHL University building (don’t get excited, Canadians, it has nothing to do with hockey. NHL stands for Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden), the city had recently converted a large section of roadway to a “shared space,” which looked, basically, like a wide road with a bus stop on one side. Our group strolled to the middle of the space and hung out, but cars and buses came by rather quickly for my taste. Another delegate from Leeuwarden confessed the shared space hadn’t been a complete success. It was too wide, he felt, which gave a cue to car drivers that it was safe to go quickly. The city had recently installed a planter in the middle of the road in an attempt to slow the traffic, but he grumbled that it still wasn’t quite right. The point is that what makes shared space and complete streets work is making everybody feel safe and welcome. That doesn’t mean we all have to hold hands around a campfire – most of it comes through design.
What does all of this have to do with Stephen Avenue? I still share some of the consternation about the impact of adding bikes to what has been Calgary’s premier (and only) meaningful pedestrian street, but Leeuwarden showed me how people can get along when they are left to just be people. And without cars there to further complicate things, the process should be smoother still.
I expect there may still be problems from time to time, but hopefully, this move will make one street in Calgary a little more complete.
Please pass along to your networks
Bicycle Valet Winnipeg Manager: Contract Opportunity
About Bicycle Valet Winnipeg
<http://www.bicyclevaletwinnipeg.ca/> Bicycle Valet Winnipeg is a project of Bike Winnipeg that offers a bicycle valet parking service at events around Winnipeg. Bicycle valet parking reduces traffic and parking congestion while encouraging active transportation. The service is free to cyclists and is paid for through contracts with various events and organizations.
Bicycle Valet Winnipeg has been in operation for five years and has successfully established itself as an important service at many public events including sports and entertainment events, community festivals, fundraising events and others. Bicycle Valet Winnipeg has an established network of clients and volunteers, an inventory of equipment, and an established set of services, pricing policies and operating procedures.
About the contract
Bicycle Valet Winnipeg is looking for a Manager who will operate the bicycle valet service as a social enterprise, and who has a passion for active transportation, and a commitment to making Winnipeg a bike-friendly city.
The Manager is the leader of Bicycle Valet Winnipeg and the primary point of contact for sponsors, event promoters, media, volunteers, and the public. The Manager is responsible for all aspects of the enterprise, including negotiating contracts and sponsorship agreements, drafting grant applications, recruiting and coordinating volunteers for events, and ensuring materials are delivered, set-up, torn-down, and returned safely to storage.
This is a contract position and the Manager’s net income will be based on revenue generated through contracts, grants, donations and sponsorships net of expenses. Past experience suggests that the Manager may generate $12,000.00 or more in net income per year. The work of Bicycle Valet Winnipeg is primarily completed during the months of May - November and a flexible work schedule is required as many events occur on the weekend or in the evenings.
Applicants should provide a resume and cover letter describing their skills and experience in the following areas:
* volunteer recruitment and management,
* financial and business management,
* event coordination, and
* working as a self-employed contractor.
Please send resume and cover letter to Jeremy Hull, at jeremy(a)bikewinnipeg.ca <mailto:email@example.com> .
For more information visit: http://bicyclevaletwinnipeg.ca/
Application Deadline: March 6, 2015
*Friendly reminder regarding this Thursday's webinar...*
Green Action Centre and Bike Winnipeg invite you to join us for a local
viewing of the following APBP webinar: *New Tools for Estimating Walking
and Bicycling Demand. *
This webinar viewing takes place in the EcoCentre boardroom (3rd floor, 303
Portage Ave) and will be followed by group discussion of local applications.
RSVPs appreciated but not necessary. Hope to see you then!
* * * * *
New Tools for Estimating Walking and Bicycling Demand
*Thursday, Feb. 26th, 2-3pm, EcoCentre
NCHRP project 08-78 developed new methods for estimating bicycle and
pedestrian demand for planning and project development. The project’s final
report is NCHRP 770, a guidebook that presents an array of methods for a
variety of planning applications, with context and instruction on their
selection and use. This webinar will focus on a new tool outlined in NCHRP
770 that enables practitioners to estimate demand from the interaction of
land use and transportation.
The new *multimodal accessibility tool *allows planners to include all
modes of travel in an analysis that also examines changes in the pattern of
land use or the travel network to determine which strategy, or combination
of strategies, provides the greatest return. This session will review the
limitations of current models for estimating demand, describe the research
behind the development of the new tool, and give examples of how the model
is being used at regional, corridor, and neighborhood levels.
- J. Richard Kuzmyk, Principal, Renaissance Planning Group
[In case you missed this piece, as I did, when it appeared in the print
version of Metro Winnipeg on Feb 3/15.]
Slow down Winnipeg: Lowering the speed limit to 40 km/h is a no-brainer
If this is an average week in Winnipeg at least a half-dozen pedestrians
and a couple of cyclists will end up in hospital after being hit by a car
Yet despite the fact hundreds of residents are being injured or killed
every year, the city has refused to take the most basic step toward
improving road safety: reducing the default speed limit.
Ignoring the issue not only creates a real danger for pedestrians, but it
leaves Winnipeg in the dust on an emerging public policy trend toward
slowing traffic down.
New York, London and Paris all lowered their speed limits last year to
between 32 km/h and 40 km/h. Edinburgh just approved lowering its limit to
32 km/h and San Francisco — already at 40 km/h — is looking at doing the
Within Canada, campaigns are underway to lower speed limits in some Calgary
neighbourhoods, Victoria recently cut the speed to 40 km/h on several
streets, and the Ontario government announced last week it will hold public
consultations on reducing the default speed limit to 40 km/h across the
Politicians like Ottawa’s mayor Jim Watson and Thunder Bay’s mayor Keith
Hobbs have already backed the proposal and said they want lower limits in
“You see some cars going 60 and 70 km/h down a residential street and you
cringe at what could happen — a child hit or killed, a pet, a senior
citizen,” Watson told Metro Ottawa.
But when 40 km/h speed limits were raised at Winnipeg city council in 2013,
the administration dismissed the idea and councillors pretty much shrugged
and moved on.
To be fair, council did approve 30 km/h school speed zones around the same
time, but those might be more confusing than effective. In addition to
providing only part-time protection (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to
Friday, September to June), they also create a patchwork of speed limits in
For example, along Kingsway in River Heights the speed limit changes four
times in seven blocks as the road passes two elementary schools. While
“keep ’em on their toes” is one way to deal with speeders, it might not be
the best option for creating long-term behavioural changes.
A consistent 40 km/h speed limit on all residential streets — secondary
roads, not major thoroughfares — would only delay drivers by a few seconds,
but it would significantly improve safety and quality of life in Winnipeg’s
Let’s hope our civic leaders speed up and get on board the slow-down
*Colin Fast is a communications specialist and freelance journalist in
Winnipeg. He drives at 40 km/h through his neighbourhood and doesn’t care
how much you honk. Find him on Twitter(a)policyfrog.*
Interesting to see that physical inactivity is even way more damaging than
obesity, and that even "healthy weight" individuals would greatly benefit
from walking or cycling. (Okay, nothing shockingly new but it might
* * * * *
*Lack of exercise responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity *
A brisk 20 minute walk each day could be enough to reduce an individual’s
risk of early death, according to new research published today. The study
of over 334,000 European men and women found that twice as many deaths may
be attributable to lack of physical activity compared with the number of
deaths attributable to obesity, but that just a modest increase in physical
activity could have significant health benefits.
See more at:
*** Please share widely ***
*Peg City Car Co-op seeks Member Services Coordinator*
To help with our growing membership and network of carshare vehicles, we
need a dependable person who gets carsharing and how it works. Someone who
is committed to and understands the individual, environmental and community
benefits of "Bike. Walk. Bus. And Sometimes, Drive."
The Member Services Coordinator is the main point of contact for Peg City
Car Co-op members and is responsible for ensuring that members are
satisfied with the carshare service as a practical, convenient and
cost-effective alternative to private vehicle ownership.
*Find details here.*
Deadline for submission:* 9pm, Thursday, March 5th*