As part of Vision Zero, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) have undertaken the city's first comprehensive analysis of cyclist safety since 2006. I would recommend that anyone interested in safer city cycling look it over.
What they've found is that as their bicycle network has massively expanded,
so has ridership.
There were an estimated 164 million bicycle trips in 2015, up from nearly 66 million trips in 2006, an increase of 150%.
And, as ridership has increased, the fatality rate has plummeted.
Fatalities per 100 million bicycle trips are down 71% over a 15 year period. The number killed or severely injured (KSI) was down 73%.
So, what you've always known was true is true. If you want more people to bike and for fewer of them to die, you need to build more and better facilities and add more bikeshare.
The reasons for the improved safety seem to be tied directly to the bicycle facilities. Fatalities have dropped, in part, because more people are riding and few (11%) of those fatalities are on streets with bicycle facilities. Interestingly,
Cyclist KSI declined by 17% within the bike share zone after one year of operation
While it dropped only 4% outside of it, which indicates that the mere presence of bikeshare makes biking safer.
- The majority of cyclist fatalities (65%) and an even greater percentage of cyclist KSI (89%) occurred at intersections.
- A high percentage of cyclist fatalities (27%) involved trucks, when compared to cyclist KSI (5%)
- KSI was down way more in the summer (28%) than it was in the winter (3%) "This seasonal variation in the reduction of cyclist KSI may provide further support that the safety in numbers dynamic is occurring in New York City. If the growth in cycling has been occurring disproportionately during the warmest months of the year—a reasonable assumption—this may help explain why the greatest drop in cyclist KSI between the two periods occurred in the summer."
- Cyclist KSI is higher in the outer boroughs than in Manhattan
The next one is really interesting, because it shows that in a crash between a cyclist and a pedestrian, the cyclists is about 50% as likely to die as the pedestrian is. I've never seen it quantified before.
- From 2006 to 2016 of the 1,677 pedestrian traffic fatalities, seven occurred as a result of pedestrian-bicycle collisions, accounting for 0.4% of all pedestrian traffic fatalities in New York City. During this time period, three cyclists were killed as a result of a crash with a pedestrian. Interestingly, 1.4% of cyclist fatalities (3 out of 214)* were from bike-pedestrian crashes, so pedestrians are a bigger threat to cyclists than cyclists are to pedestrians. (Bike-bike fatalities were 0.5% and single-bike fatalities were 5.1%. The other 93% involved motor vehicles)
Their plan to make things even safer is to build more and better facilities and expand bikeshare (Duh), focus enforcement at high KSI intersections and tailor it to the most dangerous behavior. They also plan education, a possible 3-feet law (like we have in DC), mandatory truck side guards (required in DC) and more data collection.
* 214 is the number of total bike fatalities, which includes 199 bike-motor vehicle crashes, 11 single-bike fatalities, 3 bike-ped fatalities and 1 bike-bike fatality