When it comes to making biking safer as a whole, it’s all about getting more cyclists on the road and enacting key infrastructural and social changes, according to Streetsblog USA.
Generally speaking, nations with a large cycling population—such as Denmark—typically have both fewer cycling incidents and fewer traffic accidents in general. Countries where cycling is still fairly new or with recent spikes in cycling popularity (such as Korea) still experience higher rates of cycling accidents, according to the International Transport Forum. Researchers speculate that these accidents probably occur because neither cyclists nor other transportation participants have had time to assimilate to each other’s presence. New York has experienced something similar to Korea as cycling has become more popular there in recent years. But as Streetsblog NYC highlighted, as the number of cyclists increase, cycling accident rates are beginning to drop. The more cyclists and walkers there are, the safer cycling and walking become.
By comparison, in Denmark, cycling rates are high but have remained relatively stable over the last ten years. Interestingly, during that last decade, cycling fatality rates have declined by 40 percent. So what does this all mean? While encouraging more cyclists to get out on the road is important, in order to make cycling safer as a whole, key infrastructure and road culture changes – both of which take time – must occur.
Along with more people riding bikes, infrastructure changes (like new bike lanes and helmet laws) and culture changes (like encouraging drivers to share the road with cyclists) must all happen. But you can’t have any of these without the others. Without an influx of cyclists, there’s little need for infrastructure change. And without infrastructure change, a strong cycling population can’t be sustained. To make cycling safer, cyclists need to grow their riding communities while at the same time working to make cycling a greater part of their home cities’ awareness when it comes to infrastructure and road culture.