A Justification for the ‘Jello On The Wall’ Approach to Urban Cycling

Safety in numbers for cyclists

Australian Federal Police patrol the courtyard of Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

Australian Federal Police patrol the courtyard of Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

For many years, anecdotal evidence suggested that the principle of ‘safety in numbers’ also applied to vulnerable road users such as cyclists. For example, Hudson wrote in 1978: “the fact that cyclists’ rights are more respected in towns where cycling is prevalent suggests than an increase in the number of cyclists on all roads would condition car drivers to expect and allow for them”. Peter Jacobsen recently published the first formal analysis showing safety in numbers is a reality for both cyclists and pedestrians.

This paper seeks to determine if Jacobsen’s growth rule (the ‘safety in numbers’ principle) applies to cyclists in Australia, and to examine the effect of interventions such as compulsory helmet legislation in the light of the growth rule.

Read The Actual Report: safeinnumbers_au (PDF)

The Basis for the Frenzy

Why the “rush” for more cycling infrastructure? The author of the report is attempting to analyze the theory that the greater the number of cyclists on the road the safer each will be. Check out the numbers and the methodology in the actual report listed above.