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Growth in number of New York cyclists has made cycling safer – study

City has also increased investment in cycle infrastructure in recent years

A new study, released yesterday, has concluded that the growing number of cyclists on New York streets is a likely contributor to positive changes in cycling safety. The New York Department of Transport’s 20-year study also found that there had been a drop in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI) in areas covered by the city’s bike-share scheme.

The Safer Cycling: Bicycle Ridership and Safety in New York City study states that the number of cycling trips in the city rose from 51m a year in 1996-2000 to 134m a year in 2011-2015.

In the latter period, there were an average of 12.8 cyclist fatalities per 100 million bicycle trips, compared to 44.2 cyclist fatalities per 100 million trips between 1996 and 2000. This represents a decline of 71 per cent.

This is far from being the first time such a phenomenon has been remarked upon. Back in 2009, broadcaster Jon Snow, the president of Cycling UK, launched the charity’s Safety in Numbers research at Parliament.

The organisation, then known as CTC, said its research suggested that doubling the amount of cycling would lead to a reduction of around a third in the risks associated with riding a bike – partly because riders would become more ‘visible’ to drivers, and also because drivers would be more likely to be cyclists themselves.

The New York Department of Transport study also indicates that the launch of bike-share scheme Citi Bike coincided with a drop in cyclist KSI numbers within the bike share area.

Cyclist KSI declined by 17 per cent within the bike share zone after one year of operation, despite a recorded 8.2 million bike share trips having been made.

It’s worth noting that New York has also increased investment in cycle infrastructure in recent years. Since 2006, the city has added 308 lane miles of conventional bicycle lanes and 74 lane miles of protected facilities.

Annual bicycle trips rose by 150 per cent in this period, while average cyclist fatalities fell from 23.2 per 100 million trips in 2006-2010 to 12.8 per 100 million trips in 2011-2015.

The study found that the vast majority of cyclist fatalities occurred on streets without cycle infrastructure. Between 2006 and 2016, 11 per cent of cyclist fatalities occurred on streets with a bicycle facility.

The vast majority of KSI incidents (89 per cent) occurred at junctions.

Last year, researchers who looked at the city’s cycle infrastructure concluded that bike lanes offered an excellent return on money invested as they simultaneously address multiple public health problems.

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