It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that if you have more people cycling in the city streets of Philly, then there will be fewer accidents involving cyclists. It may help to clarify that we mean that there will be fewer serious accidents. Having a lot of people cycling will definitely increase some of the minor scrape and nicks, but as far as broken bones, hospitalization and deaths, those kinds of numbers (when they involve cyclists) will decrease.
When you have more people riding bikes, that means fewer people will be in cars. Fewer cars on the roads make for safer roads, particularly for cyclists. If a cyclist hits another cyclist, even at relatively high speeds, the damage that is going to be caused should be minimal. Take the same driver behind the wheel of a car though, at the same speed, and the damage to the cyclist is sure to be much more severe.
We cannot expect Philly to give up its cars altogether, at least not for now, but we may see a shift from the percentage of residents driving cars to decrease as cyclist numbers increase. This doesn’t happen accidently, though. People need to be made aware of the benefits of riding a bike while they are also made aware of the risks of driving a car.
The statistics show that as the number of riders increase and cycling is taken up by more of the population, the number of serious accidents and fatalities involving cyclists decrease. It makes perfect sense too, and even when there are lots of cyclists on the road, the chance of a serious accident happening is minimal.
Cyclists move at a slower speed than motorists do, the majority of the time. That gives them more of a chance to react to a problem and to avoid an accident. Cyclists also tend to have better reaction speed than motorists, because of the kind of travelling they do. It hones their senses and helps them to be more focused.
The biggest hurdle for a city like Philly to overcome in moving many of its residents from cars to bikes is how safe residents feel on the streets while cycling. If they see cyclists being treated poorly by motorists and they see how little space there is for the cyclists, then they may not be inclined to get out of their car and join them. Why put themselves in that kind of danger? Motorists have to see how safe it is to ride a bike, and that can happen by improving the road conditions in the city for cyclists.
Philly resists will benefit if bike lanes are larger, more clearly marked and safer. They will benefit if there is plenty of parking for bikes and bike sharing programs are being well funded. They will start to see how safe it is to be on bikes instead of in cars, and the shift can start to happen for more motorists to become cyclists. That’s going to make safer roads for everyone.