Bicycle safety improving
Bicycle safety came into the media spotlight recently due to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association.
The report states that the number of cyclist fatalities increased 16 percent from 2010 to 2012. What the report failed to take into account is the increase in bicycling during that same period. To that point, the American Community Survey reports that there was a 39 percent increase in everyday bicycle commuters in Colorado during that same period. The rate of bicycle crashes is actually declining and bicycling remains a safe, affordable and healthy transportation choice.
That said, any number of bicyclist fatalities is too many. So while the numbers are not as dire as they may have seemed out of context, bicycle safety is still a concern that needs to be addressed. We need to invest more resources in changes that will prevent bicycle crashes and eliminate fatalities.
Improving biking and walking safety
Historically, Colorado has not allocated transportation safety funding towards bicycle and pedestrian safety, but this may finally change. Resources allocated to other areas of traffic safety have resulted in decreases in fatalities while, as the report shows, bicycle fatalities have increased in recent years. “Bicycle and pedestrian safety” was recently identified as an emphasis area in the forthcoming Strategic Highway Safety Plan. We applaud the Colorado Department of Transportation for this recent work and we will work to see that funding is directed to improving biking and walking safety programs.
Bike sharing on the rise
Bike sharing was not discussed in the report, but some subsequent news stories mentioned bike sharing programs, implying they may have contributed to the increase in fatalities. Bike share programs (such as Colorado’s B-cycle and We-cycle) have become an increasingly popular mode of transportation in recent years, reducing traffic congestion in our cities. In response to the news stories, we want to share that millions of trips have been taken on these bicycles, and out of those millions of trips there have been zero fatalities to date.
Roadway fatalities are preventable. Moving Colorado toward zero deaths on our roads will take a collective effort to take advantage of new road designs, visible safety programs and proven enforcement strategies. Thanks to Bicycle Colorado’s supporters, we are able to push these efforts forward and make Colorado a better place to bike.