Comment 117067

By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 19, 2016 at 17:36:15

Some very interesting comments. One of my main goals is to promote cycling safety. The #1 cycling safety factor is infrastructure. #2 is the safety in numbers effect. The more people who are cycling, the safer cycling becomes.

This is because almost all of the danger to cyclists comes from car drivers. Dutch-style protected infrastructure is the best in the world. When it comes to protection, concrete and steel have a good track record for reliability.

Where we do not have protected infrastructure, the safety in numbers effect becomes important for cycling safety. When car drivers routinely and continuously encounter large numbers of cyclists on the streets, they learn to expect and anticipate the presence of cyclists and drive appropriately.

A lot of companies spend a lot of money on marketing and branding because branding works. To negatively brand cycling as something weird, scary or dangerous has the effect of reducing the number of people cycling. This, in turn makes cycling more dangerous by reducing the safety in numbers effect.

A good example of this on a large scale was provided by Australia, which brought in mandatory helmet laws in the early 1990's. The effect of these laws was to reduce the amount of cycling by 30-40 percent overall, and up to 80% in some demographic groups, such as secondary school aged females. This in turn led to a reduction in the safety in numbers effect and to an increase in the rate at which car drivers caused death and injury to cyclists by crushing them.

Other people have done a much better job than I at explaining this. See, for example, Mikael Colville-Andersen's excellent TEDx presentation at:

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