Saftey In Numbers

From today’s Star Tribune:

Although recent fatalities highlight the risks of sharing the road, statistics show there have actually been fewer bicycle crashes and injuries in Minnesota — at a time when more people are riding bikes.

By BILL McAULIFFE, Star Tribune

A string of recent bicycle deaths may make Minnesota seem like a dangerous place for cyclists. But in fact, the safety trend is going the other way as more Minnesotans take to their bikes.

How could that be when the number of deaths this year from bicycle crashes is on pace to supersede the toll in 2008 — when 14 deaths were the most in eight years?

A closer look reveals that the numbers of both bicycle crashes and injuries are down statewide, even as the number of bicyclists is increasing.

There’s safety in those numbers, some say, because it makes drivers constantly aware they’re sharing the road with bicyclists.

“I believe we’re in a state of rapid change, with the number of people using bikes for transportation,” said Tim Springer, executive director for the Midtown Greenway, likely the most popular bicycle commuter corridor in Minnesota.

“Everybody’s on a learning curve — bicyclists and motorists. Fast-forward 10 years and we’ll have a lot more of it figured out. Laws will be different, and behaviors will be different on all sides,” Springer said.

“But it means that in the meantime, we all need to be really careful,” he added. “Things are unclear.”

Cycling swells in Minneapolis

Crashes and injuries are down markedly in Minneapolis, where the number of people who use bikes for transportation continues to swell.

The Midtown Greenway saw a 24 percent increase in ridership in the first four months of this year, compared to the same period of 2008. Ridership from March through December last year was up 32 percent over the same period the year before, said Shaun Murphy, coordinator of a nonmotorized transportation pilot program for the city.

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