Bike Safety Tuesday: Data Matters

Data is one of the most important components of modern bike safety. Collected by interest groups and local government agencies, this information is organized and displayed to paint a grand, detailed picture of what cycling is really like in a city or town.

Here are three examples of how data is being used to make streets safer for cycling:

Crash Data – Boston began properly gathering and analyzing cyclist crash data in 2010 from Boston Police and EMS. In 2013, the city released its first crash report. The information collected in reported crashes involving cyclists from 2010-2012 included the cause of crash (cyclist ran red light, motorist failed to yield, etc.), the location, and if the cyclist was wearing a helmet. The city and its cycling advocacy organization, Boston Bikes, used the data to shape their programs and actions for 2013. For instance, as 22% of reported crashes were caused by “dooring”, city officials began encouraging taxi companies to post signs in their vehicles alerting passengers to check for cyclists before exiting.

Traffic Data – New innovations make it easier than ever for cities to collect data on bike traffic. Arlington, VA installed a new “bikeometer” last week to count the number of cyclists that pass through one of the busiest intersections in the city. The device displays a real-time count of daily cyclist traffic along with monthly and yearly totals.

Commuter Surveys – Many cities across the country survey residents and commuters to find out how they travel, where they go most, and what they’d like to see for improvements. Calgary, AB recently conducted a survey of residents and found that residents were particularly concerned with the combined lack of bike infrastructure and amount of bike traffic in downtown. The city council’s transportation department is taking quick action and planning on creating a network of two-way cycletracks for a pilot program as early as next summer. The city even believes that area bicycle traffic will double in the first year. Calgary’s plan is a great model for how cities can save money by going straight to the source, the public, to create the most effective infrastructure first.



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