Can ‘Vision Zero’ Be Attained Merely Using Bike Lanes?

Background Reading


The articles begins:

As more people bike in a city, the total number of bicycle-involved collisions often remains flat. Sometimes it rises a little, and sometimes it falls. But the “safety in numbers” bike safety phenomenon is surprisingly consistent: The more people bike, the further the collision rate falls.

Seattle appeared to be the poster child for this. Between 2005 and 2012, problematic* (see below) Census surveys show that the total number of Seattle residents bike commuting increased 116 percent. During the same time period, the total number of bike collisions only increased 31 percent, meaning the bike collision rate per commuter was in free fall.

But collision data from 2013 and preliminary data from 2014 shows that this bike collision rate free fall has stalled. King 5 reported on the problem earlier this week. We obtained the same data set from SDOT, who stressed that the numbers won’t be finalized until this summer as more data comes in from the state.

2014 saw a fairly significant increase in the total number of collisions involving people on bikes, continuing an upward trend from 2013:

Bike-Involved Collisions

Bike-Involved Collisions


Can the type of bicycle infrastructure we are rushing to build actually allow us to achieve ‘Vision Zero‘? Is there a need for increased training amongst drivers and bicyclists on how to use the existing infrastructure? Is it time to rethink the infrastructure design itself? But would it make sense to include automobile drivers in the discussions? I think so. After all they have insights that bicyclists rarely have.

Are cyclists behaving in ways that affect their overall safety? Does that account for the surge? What sorts of things would make cycling safer that have nothing to do with infrastructure and instead are rooted in technology?

Bicycle Heaven Has Never Managed ‘Vision Zero’

One of the bigger mistakes being made is to blame reports that show increases in collisions involving bicycles as being merely propaganda. While others might take delight in showing that this problem exists, it is unlikely that complaining is going to resolve the issues.

Are we being realistic in our expectations? The Dutch and the Danes have never managed to attain ‘Vision Zero‘. And of course we are basing our current bicycle infrastructure designs on theirs. So one would be led to believe that our results should never be more dramatic than theirs, right?