Although it may seem that the more riders/walkers buzzing around, the more likely an accident involving an automobile, the converse is true. Freakonomics recently cited a series of studies compiled by Injury Prevention stating that injury rates of cyclists and pedestrians declines with the number of cyclists and walkers.
Discussion: This result is unexpected. Since it is unlikelythat the people walking and bicycling become more cautious iftheir numbers are larger, it indicates that the behavior ofmotorists controls the likelihood of collisions with peoplewalking and bicycling. It appears that motorists adjust theirbehavior in the presence of people walking and bicycling. Thereis an urgent need for further exploration of the human factorscontrolling motorist behavior in the presence of people walking and bicycling.
Conclusion: A motorist is less likely to collide with a personwalking and bicycling if more people walk or bicycle. Policiesthat increase the numbers of people walking and bicycling appearto be an effective route to improving the safety of people walkingand bicycling
It’s a bit of a catch-22. We need more pedestrians and cyclists to make walking and biking safe. The way some of our nation’s roads are set up, and given the mentality of many motorists, cyclists and pedestrians need to be downright heroic in certain areas to be out there taking back our streets. We can’t rely on these “road warriors” to affect change—we need policy that makes it safer to get out of cars. Once this happens, there will be more walkers and riders, it will get even safer encouraging more participants, and the effect should continue to snowball.
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