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Bicycle safety is an aspect of transportation safety. It is the use of practices designed to reduce risk associated with cycling. Some of this subject matter is hotly debated: for example, the discussions as to whether bicycle helmets or cyclepaths really deliver improved safety. The merits of obeying the rules of the road including the use of bicycle lighting at night are less controversial.
Bicycle crashes[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Bicycle accidents
Defining safety[edit | edit source]
As long ago as the early 1930s there were efforts to clear cyclists off the roads to make way for private cars, then largely a preserve of the elite. These were successful in Germany, then an authoritarian regime, and spread during the war to German-occupied countries such as the Netherlands where civilian motor transport was also crippled by fuel rationing, but was resisted in other countries.
During the mid-part of the twentieth century, the traffic engineering response to the increased use of motor vehicles in the United Kingdom, as in the rest of the industrialised world, was to look for solutions which not only eased the passage of traffic through the streets, but which also protected vulnerable road users from the dangers of the motor car. In the 1940s, an influential proponent of this ideology was Herbert Alker Tripp, an assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police. Tripp argued in his book Town Planning and Road Traffic that: "If we could segregate pedestrians completely from the wheeled traffic, we could of course abolish pedestrian casualties".
This philosophy was also pursued by Colin Buchanan, his 1963 report for the UK Government Traffic in Towns, defined future government policy until the end of the century. Buchanan himself knew that segregation had not been proven to work in the case of cyclists, he famously wrote in his 1958 book Mixed Blessing "The meagre efforts made to separate cyclists from motor traffic have failed, tracks are inadequate, the problem of treating them at junctions and intersections is completely unsolved, and the attitude of the cyclists themselves to these admittedly unsatisfactory tracks has not been as helpful as it might have been".
Primary safety[edit | edit source]
The state of knowledge regarding primary safety has advanced significantly through programmes such as Effective Cycling and the development of Britain's new National Standards for cycle training. In addition to technical improvements in brakes, tyres and bicycle construction generally (for example, it is now rare for a chain to snap and throw the rider when accelerating away from a stop), there are well-understood behavioural models which actively manage the risk posed by others.
Cycling experts such as the UK's John Franklin emphasise the importance of assertive cycling and good road positioning. Franklin advocates the use of road positions that will give cyclists a good view of the road, that will make cyclists visible to other road-users, and will discourage risky behaviour by other road-users; he often advocates the use of a centre-of-lane 'primary riding position' when negotiating hazards.
Rural safety[edit | edit source]
Direct rear impacts with cyclists are a more prominent collision type in arterial/rural road type situations. When they occur in such circumstances they are also associated with significantly increased risk of fatality. Data collated by the OECD indicates that rural locations account for 35% or more of cycling fatalities in Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, and Spain.
Hard shoulders[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Shoulder (road)
The use of appropriately designed segregated space on arterial or interurban routes appears to be associated with reductions in overall risk. In Ireland, the provision of hard shoulders on interurban routes in the 1970s reportedly resulted in a 50% decrease in accidents. It is reported that the Danes have also found that separate cycle tracks lead to a reduction in rural collisions.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Bikers Against Drunk Drivers
- Hazards of outdoor activities
- Vehicular cycling
- Bicycle helmets by country
- Safety in numbers
References[edit | edit source]
- Davis R "Death on the Streets:Cars and the Mythology of Road Safety." Leading Edge 1993
- (2006). The cost of bad design. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
- H.A. Tripp (1942). Town Planning and Road Traffic, E. Arnold.
- Colin Buchanan (1958). Mixed Blessing, L Hill.
- Franklin, J. (2007). Cyclecraft, 4th ed. Norwich: TSO
- Figure IV.7 Pedestrian and cyclist accidents by road type. RS7:Safety of Vulnerable Road Users, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, August 1998
- The bicycle, a study of efficiency usage and safety., D.F. Moore, An Foras Forbatha, Dublin 1975
- Collection of Cycle Concepts, Danish Roads Directorate, Copenhagen, 2000
[edit | edit source]
- How to reduce the odds of a collision with other vehicle operators
- Navigating safely through a highway construction project
- Safety Quiz - Is Cycling as dangerous as we think it is?
- Is Bicycling Safe? - If you follow the rules of the road and ride carefully, cycling is actually safer than driving.
- Bike-Boxes at Traffic-Intersections in Portland Oregon, USA
- US Consumer Product Safety Commission Bicycle Guidelines
- The Belgian SHAPES project on commuter cycling