At BCA, we try to avoid engaging or furthering the “bike v. car” debate. It doesn’t do anything for advancing the bicycle movement and its not about one or the other. Rather, its about ensuring that bicyclists can travel safely and conveniently. However, many who bike have likely heard the story from a motorist or two that we are derelicts and scofflaws. There is much out there on the web rebutting the myths about scofflaw bicyclists (yes there are bicyclists who violate the rules of the road but of course motorists, especially in Anchorage, have an uncanny ability to run reds, blow stop signs and travel at speeds far exceeding the speed limit). BCA aims to educate both bicyclists and motorists about the need to follow the rules of the road.
A few days ago, the University of Toronto released an interview on it’s website with Dr. Chris Cavacuiti. Here’s an excerpt:
…While there is a public perception that cyclists are usually the cause of accidents between cars and bikes, an analysis of Toronto police collision reports shows otherwise: The most common type of crash in this study involved a motorist entering an intersection and either failing to stop properly or proceeding before it was safe to do so. The second most common crash type involved a motorist overtaking unsafely. The third involved a motorist opening a door onto an oncoming cyclist. The study concluded that cyclists are the cause of less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents in this study.
The available evidence suggests that collisions have far more to do with aggressive driving than aggressive cycling.
Also of interest given the fact that the Anchorage Bicycle Plan is in the process of being adopted, he noted that:
Research shows, perhaps not surprisingly, that countries and communities with more investment in cycling infrastructure have higher levels of cycling and lower accident and fatality rates among vulnerable road users—cyclists and pedestrians.
This sentiment was expressed by several of the experts who gave presentations at this spring’s Alaska Bike Summit, sponsored by BCA. If you build it they will ride, and they will be safer. Add to that the fact that there is safety in numbers and well – it becomes pretty clear that better bike infrastructure in Anchorage will lead to more bicyclists and safer conditions.
Dr. Cavacuiti noted that while the Toronto Collision study was actually designed to look at the cause of bicycle/motorist collisions but not culpability.
He also pointed out some great tips to keep bicyclists safe:
- Know and follow the rules of the road. Always.
- Consider taking a course to learn how to share the road as safely as possible with other vehicles. [BCA offers clinics on how to ride safely in traffic. Please contact us for more information about our educational efforts at [email protected]]
- Find a balance between being a careful rider and being confident enough to claim adequate space on the road within lanes of traffic and around parked cars.
- Remember that motorists will not necessarily understand what the needs of a cyclist are—so educate yourself. There’s a difference between being assertive and aggressive. Self-preservation should be your primary motivation.’
- If you’re planning to become a regular cycling commuter, there will inevitably be times when you may need to ride in the dark or in the rain, so invest in some lights and some reflective clothing and also buy yourself some good quality rain gear. I ride my bike almost all year round and what I’ve come to realize is that there’s really no such thing as bad weather; there are only bad clothing choices!