Dave Schlabowske
Bike Czar

2014 One of Safest Years

Bicycle crashes are down 23% compared to the first six months of 2013. Why?

By , Bike Federation of Wisconsin - Jul 11th, 2014 01:07 pm
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Click for a larger image.

Click for a larger image.

Knock on wood, in the first six months of this year, only one person riding a bicycle has died as a result of a crash with a motor vehicle. Last year that number was four, and another was killed by this time in July. So I am happy to report 2014 is one of the safest years I can remember in my 15 years of reporting on bicycle safety in Wisconsin. While the best years on record are 2009 and 2011 when we didn’t have any fatal crashes in the first six months, (and yes, even one death is too many) this is pretty good news. Note that the 2014 data is preliminary, but it is unlikely that the bicycle numbers will change.

That is wonderful news, and as regular readers know, the number of crashes has been steadily decreasing, even as bicycling has become more popular and Wisconsin’s population increases. Although it has been getting progressively safer to ride a bicycle in Wisconsin for a long time because of improved facilities as well as our education and awareness programs, I suspect weather gets most of the credit for the big drop this year.

The number of crashes continues to decline, even as our population and the number of people riding bicycles increases.

The number of crashes continues to decline, even as our population and the number of people riding bicycles increases.

Total Crashes and Injuries.

Total Crashes and Injuries.

As you can see by the charts, the total number of crashes is down from 343 in 2013 to 263 so far this year. I’d bet the total crash number is down because with our late spring. I know many people didn’t get the bikes out of the garage until much later than normal this year thanks to our long, cold winter. Many bike shop owners have told me they’ve had a pretty slow first half of the year. Even those with strong web stores say internet sales are down.

You can see that the total number of all crashes (mostly automobiles) remains about the same, as are the number of people killed walking. Motorcycle crashes are also down.

The vast majority of these crashes are motor vehicles.(click for a larger image)

The vast majority of these crashes are motor vehicles. (click for a larger image)

I have an educated guess as to why the total number of fatal bicycle crashes is down significantly more than the total number of crashes. I think the people who were out pedaling around in the snow and rain are more experienced riders who are far less likely to be involved in a serious crash.

No matter the reason, it gives me great pleasure to report some good news. Let’s all do everything we can to make the rest of the year a safe one. The Bike Fed has a dozen Safe Routes to School instructors and Share and Be Aware Ambassadors across the state teaching bicycle safety to kids and adults and encouraging people to share the road and be aware of people bicycling and walking. We are able to do that important work thanks to support from our members and federal grants administered by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, but you can help too by being a roll model. Remember to follow the rules of the road and pay attention whether you are walking, on a bike or behind the wheel.

This article was originally published by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.

Categories: Bike Czar

8 thoughts on “Bike Czar: 2014 One of Safest Years”

  1. Dan Pfeifer says:

    I stopped riding for a significant part of the year because my bike was stolen. I was told it was one of three taken from the same proximity that week.

    No bike, no crashes. [shrug]

  2. David Hoose says:

    I am happy for this record but, frankly, I’m shocked. I’m an avid biker and ride several times each week on city streets and trails and I am amazed at the shameless disregard for the basic rules of the road most bikers practice. Why is it most routinely ignore STOP signs? Is there a biker’s dispensation? Why ignore signaling an intention to turn? Why stay silent when passing another rider? Why run stop lights? In my mind, these are all dangerous ways to drive and they put me and every other bike rider on the street in possible danger. And these action can also contribute to car drivers not giving us respect as operators of other legitimate vehicles sharing the roadways. What can be done?

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @David Hooose No doubt we should all do better to respect the rules of the road. But don’t think those behind the wheel of an automobile follow the rules any better than us on our bikes, because they don’t.

  4. Beer Baron says:

    I’ve heard rumors of bike boulevards coming to Milwaukee. Any truth or update on that?

  5. Mike says:

    Although I agree with @David Hoose, “road bikers” are doing a way better job than the “no helmet, ride on sidewalk, no light at night” type rider. When I hear road bikers, they have helmets on, are on the right side of the lane following about the same number of traffic laws as an average motorist.

  6. Bummer! Buy a new (or used) bike and get back out there Dan.

  7. @David Hoose,

    The short answer is be the change you want to see in others. I follow the rules on my bike, on foot and in a car. This means I always drive the speed limit or lower, stop for people trying to cross the street at crosswalks and remind others to do the same when I am a passenger in their car. I follow a similar philosophy when I ride a bike. I can tell you that neither makes me a popular guy on rides or in a car. Beyond that, in this blog, I shared a pretty extensive list of traffic studies that prove people are no more likely to break the law when on bicycles than in cars, they just break different laws.

  8. @Beer Baron, The City is pushing for a bicycle boulevard on S 37th Street to connect down to the Menomonee Valley Passage. When I last talked to the City Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, she told me they were still considering how to improve the crossing at National Ave. Stay tuned on that. I have also heard rumors of green lanes and Midwest Bikeshare will have a press conference on the morning of Aug. 6th in Red Arrow Park.

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