With High Ridership, Bike Crashes Spike Slightly

This lane allows for a cyclist to make a left turn without impeding the flow of traffic in the central lane.  On a normal street, left turns with opposite traffic are extremely difficult for cyclists to make currently, as many drivers do not accept the idea that a cyclist can or should hold-up traffic by attempting to make a left turn.

Bike-related crashes spiked a small amount given the higher ridership in the Boston area over the course of the last two years.

Mayor Thomas Menino’s office released the City of Boston Cyclist Safety Report May 15. The report, which analyzed data from the last four years, found that bicycle related crashes were up 2 percent according to the Boston Police Department and 9 percent according to Boston EMS between the period of 2010 and 2012.

Boston Police data shows an increase of 11 bike crashes, from 477 to 488, between 2010 and 2012, and the EMS data shows a spike of 44 crashes, from 477 to 521, during the same period, according to the report.

The discrepancy exists because The Boston Police Department reports crashes only on Boston roads, and EMS reports crashes at which Boston Police may not have been called, according to the report.

During that same period ridership went from 47,600 riders per day in 2010 to 56,644 rides per day in 2012. The ridership increase is an estimate based on a 2000 ridership baseline which is then extrapolated to 2010 using American Community Survey data showing increased trips by year, the report says. As such, the report estimates ridership increased between 16 and 28 percent in the two-year span.

The Hubway bicycle share system was launched during this time, which likely contributed to the increased ridership. Hubway estimates there were 675,000 total rides taken on the system between its launch in July 2011 and winter shutdown in 2012.

There were nine bicycle-related deaths reported between 2010 and 2012, with five taking place in 2012, according to the report.

Other key report findings, provided by the Mayor’s office: 

  • Injured cyclists are less likely to be wearing a helmet than the average cyclists. 
  • A majority of incidents that resulted in injury involved motor vehicles.
  • Cyclist accident incidents involving and/or injuring pedestrians are minimal. Pedestrians comprised only 2-3% of incidents and injuries in all cyclist incidents.
  • Key behavioral factors associated with accidents included cyclists not stopping at red lights or stop signs, cyclists riding into oncoming traffic, drivers not seeing cyclists and drivers/passengers opening doors.
  • Young adults, particularly men between 19 and 31 comprise more than half of all injured cyclists.

The report recommends that the city expand its efforts to provide helmets to riders. Currently, the city makes low cost helmets available at 32 retail locations and farmers’ markets throughout the area, the report says. The report also recommends the city look into one-day distribution options.

Plans are underway to install helmet vending machines this year, according to the report.

The city will increase educational efforts this year as well, including the placement of window stickers on 1,825 Boston taxis warning passengers to not open their doors into passing cyclists.

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