September 17, 2012
By Elizabeth Fiedler
Fewer bicyclists are getting into accidents in Philadelphia. The drop is in line with data from other parts of the country: the more bike riders on the road, the fewer accidents.
“Since the year 2000 in Philadelphia, according to the census, cycling is up more than 150 percent,” said Andrew Stober, Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities. “There are about 10,000 Philadelphians who report cycling to work nearly everyday. And what we’ve seen in that same time is a significant decline in the number of cyclists that are involved in accidents with motor vehicles. Those are down nearly 50 percent.”
Alex Doty, the Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said he’s pleased with the shift.
“But that fits in with national trends and actually supports a study that was done in Oregon that shows that when you double the number of bicyclists or pedestrians on any given road, you actually reduce the crash risk for each individual by a third,” said Doty.
Doty said it’s not difficult to understand. Cars are more likely to be careful of bicyclists when they see more of them on the street. As a result he said, bikes are safer.
Andrew Stober, Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, agreed.
“That’s consistent with the international experience and its probably related to drivers being more aware of cyclists on the road, better cycling infrastructure,” said Stober.
Stober added that he has seen the change biking to work. He’s noticed cars are looking out for cyclists more.
“It’s another traveler that they expect to see on the street. And I also think at the same time we’re seeing bicyclists’ behavior improve. Particularly as the demographics of cyclists have changed.”
Stober said it’s no longer just young risk-taking men on bikes in Philadelphia.
The Bicycle Coalition continues to partner with the city to encourage cyclists to obey traffic laws – to make it easier for bikers and drivers to share the road safely.