Bike rideshare programs mean more bicycles on city streets and, inevitably, more interactions between cars and bikes. New research shows that these increases actually make cycling safer. While this may seem counterintuitive, researchers explain, both the rate of fatal and injury accidents * and even the absolute number of cyclists seriously injured or killed in traffic crashes drops because having more cyclists on the road increases visibility and motorists’ awareness of bicycle riders. When drivers see numerous cyclists on the road, they’re cued to watch for them as they travel. Experts say it boils down to “safety in numbers.”
If you’ve been hit by a car while on your bike and were seriously injured, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. A good bicycle accident lawyer begins dealing directly with the insurance companies so you can focus on recovering and rebuilding your life.
Rideshare bicycles are increasingly common. Cities such as Minneapolis have led the way in offering rideshare bikes and building infrastructure such as protected bike lanes throughout urban areas. Nearly 900 bike share companies now operate globally. In the United States, an estimated 42.5 million station-based and dockless bicycle share trips were taken in 2018.1 Users often borrow bikes for an hour or a one-time use or subscribe to a monthly or annual membership program using a credit card.
Rochester has 200 bikes in its free rideshare program. In 2019, bikes were checked out more than 360 times. After finding that many were left unused, the program offered half of the bicycles in 2020 to community groups and individuals for long-term use. The rest remain available outside the Rochester Public Library from May to mid-October. Additionally, rideshare motorized scooter company Lime plans to introduce electric bikes mid-summer 2020 to downtown Rochester. With an increased interest on the part of the city in adding bikes to street traffic, Rochester has implemented bicycle-centric road features, such as painted bike lanes and green-painted bike “boxes” at intersections.
While bike rideshare programs and increased cycling traffic go hand-in-hand with protected bike lanes and rideshare stations that double as traffic calming infrastructure, an environmental and occupational health researcher, Ghassan B. Hamra of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that adding more cyclists to the streets, even without adding safety measures, is capable of reducing bike crashes.
Hamra looked at Philadelphia’s bike share program, which began in 2015 with about 600 bicycles that were used for 120,000 trips in the first quarter of operation. By 2019, the program had a fleet of about 1,700 bikes, including 400 pedal-assisted electric bikes. No major changes such as numerous protected bicycle lanes were made to infrastructure during the study period, Hamra noted, yet bike injury accidents dropped by 13%.
Similarly, a year after initiation of its bicycle-share program, New York City experienced a 17% decrease in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in the bike-share zone. It’s worth noting that these decreases aren’t only in the rates of injury and death, but also in the absolute numbers of such incidents, despite the rise in number of bicycle riders. Numbers similarly dropped in Minneapolis, Chicago, and Portland after those cities started bike share programs, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).
If you have been injured in a bike versus car accident, contact us today. Suk Law Firm has focused exclusively on personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1988. We’ve recovered more than $125 million on behalf of our clients and are ready to assist you.
Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.
*A note about language:
Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”