April 22, 2013

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paradigm shift

The University of Calgary recently released a study that found that the greatest injuries were caused by cyclists crashing into vehicles; the faster the vehicle, the greater the injury.

Seems obvious, but perhaps this could lead to a different approach to cycling safety.

The study also pointed out that the lack of helmet use while biking was not as great a risk factor as were collisions. until now, researchers have been focused on helmet protection for children. “Maybe we need more designated bike lanes separated from the roads to ensure safety,” the author of the study.

The research is supported by a Transport Canada study which concluded that mass helmet use has not contributed to a reduction in cyclist fatalities in Canada, which remains at about 60 deaths a year.

So whatever can prevent bicycle/motor vehicle collisions is what counts, and we can now point out that helmets should not be a focus in cycling safety campaigns.


Brad more than 1 year ago


Martin, you're 100% correct. However I would submit that it also doesn't matter because if our goal is to increase bicycle ridership, it's PERCEPTION of safety that matters most. What makes the cyclist FEEL safe, because it's only when we meet that criteria that ridership will truly increase. I've been a regular cycle commuter for years and I too know how to "take the lane" and operate in traffic. That doesn't mean that I enjoy it.
The authors of this study seem to be advocating for a Copenhagen-style of infrastructure of bike routes that are separated from motorized traffic and feel so safe that the majority of riders don't even bother to wear helmets, and parents don't hesitate to throw their kids into cargo bikes (unrestrained) and go for a ride.
Granted, Copenhagen has spent the last 30 years building their wonderful bike infrastructure. The rest of us are just getting started. :)

Matt more than 1 year ago

Bike lanes vs lane control

I guess it doesn't occur to the researchers that educating even young cyclists on how to use a bicycle as a vehicle operator on the road, obeying the rules that apply to all road users, might improve safety? Mature children can be taught such rules, as witness a video I shot back in 1980 which illustrates the point, titled "Safe Cycling 4 Kids: 10-year-old Theresa shows how." It can be viewed here: http://tinyurl.com/cnuydh3.
If I were to shoot this video in 2013 I would instruct the students to control the lane on the four-lane roads shown, none of which had speed limits above 35 mph. On two-lane 25 mph roads I recommend the control and release technique, moving to control the lane when approaching a hazard and then moving back towards the curb once passing is safe.

Martin Pion more than 1 year ago

Research confusion

I would like to see researchers differentiate between bicycle crashes caused by vehicular behavior vs lane or innate behavior instead of putting all in one basket.

Just imagine if car drifting, car stunt accidents, and drunk driving are listed as regular car accidents. It does not make any sense.

Hussam more than 1 year ago

Not protected

The sharrow seems to imply that cars and bike can share the bike lane - that doesn't seem right. Also, the intersection that's so prominent in the photo is completely open, leaving the bike lane an invitation to right hooks across the straight-through bike lane. I fail to see what's protected about this. I also fail to understand how protection can be done without severely restricting the routes available to cyclists, which encourages motorists to classify cyclists as second-class road users. I believe that prejudice is a major contributer to cycle-car crashes in the U.S. See http://cyclingsavvy.org for more critiques applicable to this kind of "solution".

JW Purple more than 1 year ago