Observing best practices for safety will undoubtedly save cyclists from injuries as will raising public awareness of drivers’ responsibility to share the roads. The Tampa Bay area is among the most dangerous places in the state for bicyclists and pedestrians. We have a climate that naturally encourages bicycling. So, does more cycling mean more bike accidents? Read on!
Why More Cycling Results in Fewer Fatalities
Although it may seem counterintuitive, a report by the European Commission, Directorate-General of Transport and Energy reveals that countries with more people regularly riding bicycles actually have lower fatality rates than those where fewer people cycle. According to the report, the crash rate is directly affected by the amount of cycling per cyclist, with the fatality rate for cyclists varying inversely to the amount of cycling done by each cyclist.
The report suggests several reasons for the decline in fatal bicycle accidents.
- First, the more a cyclist rides, the more experienced that person becomes in handling the bike in traffic, and
- Second, as drivers become more accustomed to having to share the roads with bicycles, they are more alert to the need to avoid colliding with them and behave more considerately.
- Third reason the report suggests is that when a larger segment of the population relies on cycling, governments tend to provide better and safer cycling facilities.
Benefits of Cycling Far Outweigh the Risks
Furthermore, the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the dangers. In a study of 9,400 male civil servants in sedentary occupations, 70 percent of participants cycled at least an hour a week to work or did at least 25 miles of other cycling per week. They were found to have an incidence of coronary heart disease of 2.5 per 1000 man years, compared with 5.6 incidents per 1000 for non-cycling civil servants.
So while we will continue to inform the public about bicycling accidents, safety tips to avoid collisions and Florida motorists’ responsibility to share the road, we also want to encourage people to get out and ride. Wear a helmet, make yourself visible, and know the rules of the road for a safe and happy cycling experience.
 The full report is available at ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/…/pdf/pedestrians.pdf .