Is Bike Sharing the Safest Way to Ride?

News Spotlight | March 19th – April 1st:
Is Bike Sharing the Safest Way to Ride?

+“Bikesharing and Bicycle Safety,” Mineta Transportation Institute, March 2016

The Mineta Transportation Institute released a fascinating new study in March, “Bikesharing and Bicycle Safety,” that shows that using bike share is safer than riding a personal bike. Most striking, there have been zero fatalities in the United States among the over 90 bicycle share systems, compared to the national general bicycling fatality rate of 21 per 100,000,000 trips. The authors also analyzed the crash and ridership statistics from three bicycle share systems: Washington, D.C. (Capital Bike Share), Minneapolis-St. Paul (Nice Ride Minnesota), and San Francisco (Bay Area Bike Share). Capital Bike Share had the highest rate of crashes of the three bike shares, yet it was still just 65% of the national bicycle crash rate.

New York City bike share (CitiBike) user
New York City bike share (CitiBike) user // Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center

Because most public bikesharing kiosks are located in dense urban environments with lower roadway speeds and higher levels of pedestrian activity, motorists are more readily looking out for pedestrians and bicyclists. ~Bikesharing and Bicycle Safety

What makes bike shares safer? The authors identified several characteristics that may contribute.

  1. The design of the bicycles – sturdy and capable of only relatively slow speeds – may inhibit risky behavior. They also have safety features such as lights and reflectors, and are painted brightly, all of which make them easier to be seen by drivers.
  2. Bike share users are less experienced – and may be safer riders, in that they may be more likely to be cautious riders and pay closer attention to rules of the road.
  3. Bike share stations are typically in dense, urban cores whose streets have lower speed limits and whose drivers are more alert for non-motorists. Serious injuries are more likely as automobile speeds increase.

So if you’re hesitant to start bicycling, find your closest bike share and hop on – the health benefits you’ll get still far outweigh the risk.

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